That spring Larry Ellison saw Amelio at a party and introduced

That spring Larry Ellison saw Amelio at a party and introduced him to the technology journalist Gina Smith, who asked how Apple was doing. “You know, Gina, Apple is like a ship,” Amelio answered. “That ship is loaded with

treasure, but there’s a hole in the ship. And my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction.” Smith looked perplexed and asked, “Yeah, but what about the hole?” From then on, Ellison and Jobs joked about the parable of

the ship. “When Larry relayed this story to me, we were in this sushi place, and I literally fell off my chair laughing,” Jobs recalled. “He was just such a

buffoon, and he took himself so seriously. He insisted that everyone call him Dr. Amelio. That’s always a warning sign.”

Brent Schlender, Fortune’s well-sourced technology reporter, knew Jobs and was familiar with his thinking, and in March he came out with a story detailing the mess. “Apple Computer, Silicon Valley’s paragon of dysfunctional

management and fumbled techno-dreams, is back in crisis mode, scrambling lugubriously in slow motion to deal with imploding sales, a floundering

technology strategy, and a hemorrhaging brand name,” he wrote. “To the Machiavellian eye, it looks as if Jobs, despite the lure of Hollywood—lately he

has been overseeing Pixar, maker of Toy Story and other computer-animated films—might be scheming to take over Apple.”

Once again Ellison publicly floated the idea of doing a hostile takeover and installing his “best friend” Jobs as CEO. “Steve’s the only one who can save Apple,” he told reporters. “I’m ready to help him the minute he says the

word.” Like the third time the boy cried wolf, Ellison’s latest takeover musings didn’t get much notice, so later in the month he told Dan Gillmore of the San Jose Mercury News that he was forming an investor group to raise $1 billion

to buy a majority stake in Apple. (The company’s market value was about $2.3 billion.) The day the story came out, Apple stock shot up 11% in heavy

trading. To add to the frivolity, Ellison set up an email address, [email protected], asking the

general public to

vote on whether

he should go

ahead with it.

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He had told Larry Ellison that his return strategy was to

He had told Larry Ellison that his return strategy was to sell NeXT to Apple, get appointed to the board, and be there ready when CEO Gil Amelio stumbled. Ellison may have been baffled when Jobs insisted that he was not

motivated by money, but it was partly true. He had neither Ellison’s conspicuous consumption needs nor Gates’s philanthropic impulses nor the competitive urge to see how high on the Forbes list he could get. Instead his

ego needs and personal drives led him to seek fulfillment by creating a legacy that would awe people. A dual legacy, actually: building innovative products and building a lasting company. He wanted to be in the pantheon with, indeed

a notch above, people like Edwin Land, Bill Hewlett, and David Packard. And the best way to achieve all this was to return to Apple and reclaim his kingdom.

And yet when the cup of power neared his lips, he became strangely hesitant, reluctant, perhaps coy.

He returned to Apple officially in January 1997 as a part-time advisor, as he had told Amelio he would. He began to assert himself in some personnel areas, especially in protecting his people who had made the transition from

NeXT. But in most other ways he was unusually passive. The decision not to ask him to join the board offended him, and he felt demeaned by the

suggestion that he run the company’s operating system division. Amelio was thus able to create a situation in which Jobs was both inside the tent and

outside the tent, which was not a prescription for tranquillity. Jobs later recalled:

Gil didn’t want me around. And I thought he was a bozo. I knew that before I sold him the company. I thought I was just going to be trotted out now and

then for events like Macworld, mainly for show. That was fine, because I was working at Pixar. I rented an office in downtown Palo Alto where I could work

a few days a week, and I drove up to Pixar for one or two days.

It was a nice life.

I could slow down,

spend time

with my family.

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The event ended on a more upbeat note, literally.Jobs brought

The event ended on a more upbeat note, literally. Jobs brought onstage a violinist from the San Francisco Symphony who played Bach’s A Minor Violin Concerto in a duet with the NeXT computer onstage. People erupted in

 

jubilant applause. The price and the delayed release were forgotten in the frenzy. When one reporter asked him immediately afterward why the machine was going to be so late, Jobs replied, “It’s not late. It’s five years ahead of its time.”

As would become his standard practice, Jobs offered to provide “exclusive” interviews to anointed publications in return for their promising to put the

story on the cover. This time he went one “exclusive” too far, though it didn’t really hurt. He agreed to a request from Business Week’s Katie Hafner for

exclusive access to him before the launch, but he also made a similar deal with Newsweek and then with Fortune. What he didn’t consider was that one of Fortune’s top editors, Susan Fraker, was married to Newsweek’s editor

Maynard Parker. At the Fortune story conference, when they were talking excitedly about their exclusive, Fraker mentioned that she happened to know that Newsweek had also been promised an exclusive, and it would be coming

out a few days before Fortune. So Jobs ended up that week on only two magazine covers. Newsweek used the cover line “Mr. Chips” and showed him leaning on a beautiful NeXT, which it proclaimed to be “the most exciting

machine in years.” Business Week showed him looking angelic in a dark suit, fingertips pressed together like a preacher or professor. But Hafner pointedly

reported on the manipulation that surrounded her exclusive. “NeXT carefully parceled out interviews with its staff and suppliers, monitoring them with a

censor’s eye,” she wrote. “That strategy worked, but at a price: Such maneuvering—self-serving and relentless—displayed the side of Steve Jobs that so hurt him at Apple. The

trait that most

stands out is

Jobs’s need to

control events.”

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Gates and NeXTBill Gates was not a soul mate. Jobs had convinced

Gates and NeXTBill Gates was not a soul mate. Jobs had convinced him to produce software applications for the Macintosh, which had turned out to be hugely profitable for Microsoft. But Gates was one person who was resistant

to Jobs’s reality distortion field, and as a result he decided not to create software tailored for the NeXT platform. Gates went to California to get

periodic demonstrations, but each time he came away unimpressed. “The Macintosh was truly unique, but I personally don’t understand what is so unique about Steve’s new computer,” he told Fortune.

Part of the problem was that the rival titans were congenitally unable to be deferential to each other. When Gates made his first visit to NeXT’s Palo Alto

headquarters, in the summer of 1987, Jobs kept him waiting for a half hour in the lobby, even though Gates could see through the glass walls that Jobs was

walking around having casual conversations. “I’d gone down to NeXT and I had the Odwalla, the most expensive carrot juice, and I’d never seen tech

offices so lavish,” Gates recalled, shaking his head with just a hint of a smile. “And Steve comes a half hour late to the meeting.”

Jobs’s sales pitch, according to Gates, was simple. “We did the Mac together,” Jobs said. “How did that work for you? Very well. Now, we’re going to do this together and this is going to be great.”

But Gates was brutal to Jobs, just as Jobs could be to others. “This machine is crap,” he said. “The optical disk has too low latency, the fucking case is too

expensive. This thing is ridiculous.” He decided then, and reaffirmed on each subsequent visit, that it made no sense for Microsoft to divert resources from

other projects to develop applications for NeXT. Worse yet, he repeatedly said so publicly, which made others less likely to spend time developing

for NeXT.

“Develop for it?

I’ll piss on it,”

he told InfoWorld.

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Perot brought to NeXT something that was almost as valuable

Perot brought to NeXT something that was almost as valuable as his $20 million lifeline: He was a quotable, spirited cheerleader for the company, who could lend it an air of credibility among grown-ups. “In terms of a startup

company, it’s one that carries the least risk of any I’ve seen in 25 years in the computer industry,” he told the New York Times. “We’ve had some

sophisticated people see the hardware—it blew them away. Steve and his whole NeXT team are the darnedest bunch of perfectionists I’ve ever seen.”

Perot also traveled in rarefied social and business circles that complemented Jobs’s own. He took Jobs to a black-tie dinner dance in San Francisco that

Gordon and Ann Getty gave for King Juan Carlos I of Spain. When the king asked Perot whom he should meet, Perot immediately produced Jobs. They

were soon engaged in what Perot later described as “electric conversation,” with Jobs animatedly describing the next wave in computing. At the end the

king scribbled a note and handed it to Jobs. “What happened?” Perot asked. Jobs answered, “I sold him a computer.”

These and other stories were incorporated into the mythologized story of Jobs that Perot told wherever he went. At a briefing at the National Press Club

in Washington, he spun Jobs’s life story into a Texas-size yarn about a young man

so poor he couldn’t afford to go to college, working in his garage at night, playing with computer chips, which was his hobby, and his dad—who looks

like a character out of a Norman Rockwell painting—comes in one day and said, “Steve, either make something you can sell or go get a job.” Sixty days

later, in a wooden box that his dad made for him, the first Apple

computer was created.

And this high school

graduate literally

changed the world.

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In Aspen he was exposed to the spare and functional design

In Aspen he was exposed to the spare and functional design philosophy of the Bauhaus movement, which was enshrined by Herbert Bayer in the buildings, living suites, sans serif font typography, and furniture on the Aspen Institute campus. Like his mentors Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe,

Bayer believed that there should be no distinction between fine art and applied industrial design. The modernist International Style championed by the Bauhaus taught that design should be simple, yet have an expressive

spirit. It emphasized rationality and functionality by employing clean lines and forms. Among the maxims preached by Mies and Gropius were “God is in the details” and “Less is more.” As with Eichler homes, the artistic sensibility was combined with the capability for mass production.

Jobs publicly discussed his embrace of the Bauhaus style in a talk he gave at the 1983 design conference, the theme of which was “The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be.” He predicted the passing of the Sony style in favor of Bauhaus

Every month or so, Manock and Oyama would present a new iteration based on Jobs’s previous criticisms. The latest plaster model would be dramatically

unveiled, and all the previous attempts would be lined up next to it. That not only helped them gauge the design’s evolution, but it prevented

simplicity. “The current wave of industrial design is Sony’s high-tech look, which is gunmetal gray, maybe paint it black, do weird stuff to it,” he said. “It’s easy to do that. But it’s not great.” He proposed an alternative, born of

the Bauhaus, that was more true to the function and nature of the products. “What we’re going to do is make the products high-tech, and we’re going to package them cleanly so that you know they’re high-tech. We will fit them in a small package, and then we can

make them beautiful

and white, just like

Braun does

with its electronics.”

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A hero of the piece was John Draper, a hacker known as

A hero of the piece was John Draper, a hacker known as Captain Crunch because he had discovered

that the sound emitted by the toy whistle that came with the breakfast cereal was the same 2600

Hertz tone used by the phone network’s call-routing switches. It could fool the system into allowing

a long-distance call to go through without extra charges. The article revealed that other tones that

 

served to route calls could be found in an issue of the Bell System Technical Journal, which AT&T

immediately began asking libraries to pull from their shelves.

As soon as Jobs got the call from Wozniak that Sunday afternoon, he knew they would have to get

 

their hands on the technical journal right away. “Woz picked me up a few minutes later, and we went

to the library at SLAC [the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center] to see if we could find it,” Jobs recounted.

It was Sunday and the library was closed, but they knew how to get in through a door that was rarely locked.

“I remember that we were furiously digging through the stacks, and it was Woz who finally found the journal

with all the frequencies. It was like, holy shit, and we opened it and there it was. We kept saying to ourselves,

‘It’s real. Holy shit, it’s real.’ It was all laid out—the tones, the frequencies.”

Wozniak went to Sunnyvale Electronics before it closed that evening and bought the parts to make

an analog tone generator. Jobs had built a frequency counter when he was part of the HP Explorers

Club, and they used it to calibrate the desired tones. With a dial, they could replicate and tape-record

the sounds specified in the article. By midnight they were ready to test it. Unfortunately the oscillators

they used were not quite stable enough to replicate the right chirps to fool the phone company.

“We could see the instability using Steve’s frequency counter,” recalled Wozniak, “and we just

couldn’t make it work. I had to leave for Berkeley

the next morning, so we

decided I would work

on building a digital

version once I got there.”

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Following the lead of other phone phreaks such as

Following the lead of other phone phreaks such as Captain Crunch,

they gave themselves handles. Wozniak became “Berkeley Blue,”

Jobs was “Oaf Tobark.” They took the device to college dorms and

gave demonstrations by attaching it to a phone and speaker. While the

 

potential customers watched, they would call the Ritz in London or a dial-a-joke service in Australia.

“We made a hundred or so Blue Boxes and sold almost all of them,” Jobs recalled.

 

The fun and profits came to an end at a Sunnyvale pizza parlor. Jobs and Wozniak

were about to drive to Berkeley with a Blue Box they had just finished making. Jobs

needed money and was eager to sell, so he pitched the device to some guys at the next table.

They were interested, so Jobs went to a phone booth and demonstrated it with a call to Chicago.

The prospects said they had to go to their car for money. “So we walk over to the car, Woz and me,

and I’ve got the Blue Box in my hand, and the guy gets in, reaches under the seat, and he pulls out a gun,”

Jobs recounted. He had never been that close to a gun, and he was terrified. “So he’s pointing the gun right at

my stomach, and he says, ‘Hand it over, brother.’ My mind raced. There was the car door here, and I thought

maybe I could slam it on his legs and we could run, but there was this high probability that he would shoot me.

So I slowly handed it to him, very carefully.” It was a weird sort of robbery. The guy who took the Blue

Box actually gave Jobs a phone number and said he would try to pay for it if it worked. When Jobs later called

the number, the guy said he couldn’t figure out how to use it. So Jobs, in his felicitous way, convinced the guy

to meet him and Wozniak at a public place. But they ended up deciding not to have another encounter with

the gunman, even on the off chance they could get their $150.

The partnership paved the way for what would be a bigger adventure together. “If it hadn’t been for the

Blue Boxes, there wouldn’t have been an Apple,” Jobs later reflected. “I’m 100% sure of that. Woz and

I learned how to work together, and we gained the confidence that we could solve technical problems and

partnership that would soon be born. Wozniak would be the gentle wizard coming up with a neat invention

that he would have been happy just to give away, and Jobs would figure out how to

make it user-friendly,

put it together

in a package, market it,

and make a few bucks.

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Jobs thus became one of the first fifty employees at Atari

Jobs thus became one of the first fifty employees at Atari,

working as a technician for $5 an hour. “In retrospect,

it was weird to hire a dropout from Reed,” Alcorn recalled.

 

“But I saw something in him. He was very intelligent, enthusiastic,

excited about tech.” Alcorn assigned him to work with a straitlaced

engineer named Don Lang. The next day Lang complained,

 

“This guy’s a goddamn hippie with b.o. Why did you do this to me?

And he’s impossible to deal with.” Jobs clung to the belief that his fruit-heavy

vegetarian diet would prevent not just mucus but also body odor,

even if he didn’t use deodorant or shower regularly. It was a flawed theory.

Lang and others wanted to let Jobs go, but Bushnell worked out a solution.

“The smell and behavior wasn’t an issue with me,” he said. “Steve was prickly,

but I kind of liked him. So I asked him to go on the night shift. It was a way

to save him.” Jobs would come in after Lang and others had left and work through most

of the night. Even thus isolated, he became known for his brashness.

On those occasions when he happened to interact with others, he was prone

to informing them that they were “dumb shits.” In retrospect, he stands

by that judgment. “The only reason I shone was that everyone else was so bad,” Jobs recalled.

Despite his arrogance (or perhaps because of it) he was able to charm Atari’s boss.

“He was more philosophical than the other people I worked with,” Bushnell recalled.

“We used to discuss free will versus determinism. I tended to believe that things

were much more determined, that we were programmed. If we had perfect information,

we could predict people’s actions. Steve felt the opposite.” That outlook accorded

with his faith in the power of the will to bend reality.

Jobs helped improve some of the games by pushing the chips to produce fun designs,

and Bushnell’s inspiring willingness to play by his own rules rubbed off on him.

In addition, he intuitively appreciated the simplicity of Atari’s games. They came

with no manual and needed to be uncomplicated enough that a stoned freshman could

figure them out. The only

instructions for Atari’s Star

Trek game were “1. Insert

quarter. 2. Avoid Klingons.”

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Wozniak, not surprisingly, had the opposite attitude

Wozniak, not surprisingly, had the opposite attitude.

Before the shares went public, he decided to sell, at a very

low price, two thousand of his options to forty different midlevel

 

employees. Most of his beneficiaries made enough to buy a home.

Wozniak bought a dream home for himself and his new wife, but

she soon divorced him and kept the house. He also later gave shares

outright to employees he felt had been shortchanged, including Kottke,

 

Fernandez, Wigginton, and Espinosa. Everyone loved Wozniak,

all the more so after his generosity, but many also agreed with

Jobs that he was “awfully na?ve and childlike.” A few months later

a United Way poster showing a destitute man went up on a company

bulletin board. Someone scrawled on it “Woz in 1990.”

Wozniak, who was living in an apartment nearby and working at

HP, would come by after dinner to hang out and play the video games.

He had become addicted to Pong at a Sunnyvale bowling alley,

and he was able to build a version that he hooked up to his home TV set.

One day in the late summer of 1975, Nolan Bushnell, defying the

prevailing wisdom that paddle games were over, decided to develop

a single-player version of Pong; instead of competing against an

opponent, the player would volley the ball into a wall that lost a brick

whenever it was hit. He called Jobs into his office, sketched it out

on his little blackboard, and asked him to design it. There would be

a bonus, Bushnell told him, for every chip fewer than fifty that he used.

Bushnell knew that Jobs was not a great engineer, but he assumed, correctly,

that he would recruit Wozniak, who was always hanging around.

“I looked at it as a two-for-one thing,” Bushnell recalled. “Woz was a better engineer.”

Wozniak was thrilled when Jobs asked him to help and proposed splitting the fee.

“This was the most wonderful offer in my life, to actually design a game

that people would use,” he recalled. Jobs said it had to be done in four days

and with the fewest chips possible. What he hid from Wozniak was that the

deadline was one that Jobs had imposed, because he needed to get to the

All One Farm to help prepare for the apple harvest. He also didn’t

mention that there

was a bonus tied to

keeping down

the number of chips.

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