The lights dimmed as Jobs reappeared onstage and launched into

The lights dimmed as Jobs reappeared onstage and launched into a dramatic version

of the battle cry he had delivered at the Hawaii sales conference. “It is 1958,” he began.

“IBM passes up a chance to buy a young fledgling company that has invented a new

 

technology called xerography. Two years later, Xerox was born, and IBM has been kicking

themselves ever since.” The crowd laughed. Hertzfeld had heard versions of the speech

both in Hawaii and elsewhere, but he was struck by how this time it was pulsing with more

passion. After recounting other IBM missteps, Jobs picked up the pace and

the emotion as he built toward the present:

It is now 1984. It appears that IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer

IBM a run for its money. Dealers, after initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an

IBM-dominated and-controlled future and are turning back to Apple as the only force who

can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all, and is aiming its guns at its last obstacle to

industry control, Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire

information age? Was George Orwell right?

As he built to the climax, the audience went from murmuring to applauding to a frenzy of cheering

and chanting. But before they could answer the Orwell question, the auditorium went black and

the “1984” commercial appeared on the screen. When it was over, the entire audience was on its feet cheering.

With a flair for the dramatic, Jobs walked across the dark stage to a small table with a cloth bag on it.

“Now I’d like to show you Macintosh in person,” he said. He took out the computer, keyboard, and mouse,

hooked them together deftly, then pulled one of the new 3?-inch floppies from his shirt pocket.

The theme from Chariots of Fire began to play. Jobs held his breath for a moment, because the demo

had not worked well the night before. But this time it ran flawlessly. The word “MACINTOSH” scrolled

horizontally onscreen, then underneath it the words “Insanely great” appeared in script, as if being slowly

written by hand. Not used to such beautiful graphic displays, the audience quieted for a moment.

A few gasps could be heard. And then, in rapid succession, came a series of screen shots: Bill Atkinson’s

QuickDraw graphics package followed by displays of different fonts, documents, charts, drawings, a chess game,

 

a spreadsheet, and a

rendering of Steve Jobs

with a thought bubble

containing a Macintosh.

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The next morning the 2,600-seat auditorium was mobbed. Jobs

The next morning the 2,600-seat auditorium was mobbed. Jobs arrived in a double-breasted

blue blazer, a starched white shirt, and a pale green bow tie. “This is the most important

When asked about his obsessive concern over the look of the factory,

Jobs said it was a way to ensure a passion for perfection:

 

moment in my entire life,” he told Sculley as they waited backstage for the program to begin.

“I’m really nervous. You’re probably the only person who knows how I feel about this.” Sculley

grasped his hand, held it for a moment, and whispered “Good luck.”

 

As chairman of the company, Jobs went onstage first to start the shareholders’ meeting. He

did so with his own form of an invocation. “I’d like to open the meeting,” he said, “with a

twenty-year-old poem by Dylan—that’s Bob Dylan.” He broke into a little smile, then looked

down to read from the second verse of “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” His voice was high-pitched

as he raced through the ten lines, ending with “For the loser now / Will be later to win /

For the times they are a-changin’.” That song was the anthem that kept the multimillionaire board

chairman in touch with his counterculture self-image. He had a bootleg copy of his favorite version,

which was from the live concert Dylan performed, with Joan Baez, on Halloween 1964

at Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall.

Sculley came onstage to report on the company’s earnings, and the audience started to become restless

as he droned on. Finally, he ended with a personal note. “The most important thing that has happened

to me in the last nine months at Apple has been a chance to develop a friendship with

 

Steve Jobs,” he said.

“For me, the rapport

we have developed

means an awful lot.”

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The technology writer Steven Levy, who was then working for

The technology writer Steven Levy, who was then working for Rolling Stone, came to

interview Jobs, who urged him to convince the magazine’s publisher to put the Macintosh

team on the cover of the magazine. “The chances of Jann Wenner agreeing to displace Sting in

 

favor of a bunch of computer nerds were approximately one in a googolplex,” Levy thought,

correctly. Jobs took Levy to a pizza joint and pressed the case: Rolling Stone was “on the ropes,

running crummy articles, looking desperately for new topics and new audiences. The Mac could

be its salvation!” Levy pushed back. Rolling Stone was actually good, he said, and he asked Jobs

if he had read it recently. Jobs said that he had, an article about MTV that was “a piece of shit.”

Levy replied that he had written that article. Jobs, to his credit, didn’t back away from the assessment.

Instead he turned philosophical as he talked about the Macintosh. We are constantly benefiting from

advances that went before us and taking things that people before us developed, he said. “It’s a

wonderful, ecstatic feeling to create something that puts it back in the pool

of human experience and knowledge.”

Levy’s story didn’t make it to the cover. But in the future, every major product launch that Jobs was involved

in—at NeXT, at Pixar, and years later when he returned to Apple—would end

up on the cover of either Time, Newsweek, or Business Week.

January 24, 1984

Most of all, Jobs fretted about his presentation. Sculley fancied himself a good writer,

so he suggested changes in Jobs’s script. Jobs recalled being slightly annoyed, but their

relationship was still in the phase when he was lathering on flattery and stroking Sculley’s ego.

“I think of you just like Woz and Markkula,” he told Sculley. “You’re like one of the founders

of the company.

 

They founded the company,

but you and I are

founding the future.”

Sculley lapped it up.

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Jobs had asked Hertzfeld and the gang to prepare a special screen

Jobs had asked Hertzfeld and the gang to prepare a special screen display for Sculley’s amusement.

“He’s really smart,” Jobs said. “You wouldn’t believe how smart he is.” The explanation that

Sculley might buy a lot of Macintoshes for Pepsi “sounded a little bit fishy to me,” Hertzfeld recalled,

 

but he and Susan Kare created a screen of Pepsi caps and cans that danced around with the Apple

logo. Hertzfeld was so excited he began waving his arms around during the demo, but Sculley seemed

underwhelmed. “He asked a few questions, but he didn’t seem all that interested,” Hertzfeld recalled.

 

He never ended up warming to Sculley. “He was incredibly phony, a complete poseur,” he later said.

“He pretended to be interested in technology, but he wasn’t. He was a marketing guy, and that is

what marketing guys are: paid poseurs.”

Matters came to a head when Jobs visited New York in March 1983 and was able to convert the

courtship into a blind and blinding romance. “I really think you’re the guy,” Jobs said as they walked

through Central Park. “I want you to come and work with me. I can learn so much from you.” Jobs,

who had cultivated father figures in the past, knew just how to play to Sculley’s ego and insecurities.

It worked. “I was smitten by him,” Sculley later admitted. “Steve was one of the brightest people

I’d ever met. I shared with him a passion for ideas.”

Sculley, who was interested in art history, steered them toward the Metropolitan Museum for a little

test of whether Jobs was really willing to learn from others. “I wanted to see how well he could take

coaching in a subject where he had no background,” he recalled. As they strolled through the Greek

and Roman antiquities, Sculley expounded on the difference between the Archaic sculpture of the sixth

century B.C. and the Periclean sculptures a century later. Jobs, who loved to pick up historical nuggets

he never learned in college, seemed to soak it in. “I gained a sense that I could be a teacher to a

brilliant student,” Sculley recalled. Once again he indulged the conceit that they were alike: “I saw

in him a mirror image of my younger self. I, too, was impatient, stubborn, arrogant, impetuous.

My mind exploded with ideas, often to the

 

exclusion of everything else.

I, too, was intolerant of

those who couldn’t live

up to my demands.”

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When it was over, Jobs smiled and offered a treat. “We’ve done a lot

When it was over, Jobs smiled and offered a treat. “We’ve done a lot of talking about

Macintosh recently,” he said. “But today, for the first time ever, I’d like to let Macintosh

speak for itself.” With that, he strolled back over to the computer, pressed the button

 

on the mouse, and in a vibrato but endearing electronic deep voice, Macintosh became

the first computer to introduce itself. “Hello. I’m Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag,”

it began. The only thing it didn’t seem to know how to do was to wait for the wild cheering and

shrieks that erupted. Instead of basking for a moment, it barreled ahead. “Unaccustomed as I am

to public speaking, I’d like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM

mainframe: Never trust a computer you can’t lift.” Once again the roar almost drowned out its

final lines. “Obviously, I can talk. But right now I’d like to sit back and listen. So it is with

considerable pride that I introduce a man who’s been like a father to me, Steve Jobs.”

Pandemonium erupted, with people in the crowd jumping up and down and pumping their fists

in a frenzy. Jobs nodded slowly, a tight-lipped but broad smile on his face, then looked down

and started to choke up. The ovation continued for five minutes.

After the Macintosh team returned to Bandley 3 that afternoon, a truck pulled into the parking

lot and Jobs had them all gather next to it. Inside were a hundred new Macintosh computers, each

personalized with a plaque. “Steve presented them one at a time to each team member, with a

handshake and a smile, as the rest of us stood around cheering,” Hertzfeld recalled. It had been a

grueling ride, and many egos had been bruised by Jobs’s obnoxious and rough management style.

But neither Raskin nor Wozniak nor Sculley nor anyone else at the company could have pulled off the

creation of the Macintosh. Nor would it likely have emerged from focus groups and committees.

On the day he unveiled the Macintosh, a reporter from Popular Science asked Jobs what type

of market research he had done. Jobs responded by scoffing, “Did Alexander

 

Graham Bell do any

market research

before he invented

the telephone?”

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It was a sensation. That evening all three networks and

It was a sensation. That evening all three networks and fifty local stations aired news

stories about the ad, giving it a viral life unprecedented in the pre–YouTube era.

It would eventually be selected by both TV Guide and Advertising Age as

 

the greatest commercial of all time.

Publicity Blast

Over the years Steve Jobs would become the grand master of product launches.

In the case of the Macintosh, the astonishing Ridley Scott ad was just one of the

ingredients. Another part of the recipe was media coverage. Jobs found ways to ignite

blasts of publicity that were so powerful the frenzy would feed on itself, like a chain

reaction. It was a phenomenon that he would be able to replicate whenever there was a

big product launch, from the Macintosh in 1984 to the iPad in 2010. Like a conjurer, he

could pull the trick off over and over again, even after journalists had seen it happen a dozen

times and knew how it was done. Some of the moves he had learned from Regis McKenna,

who was a pro at cultivating and stroking prideful reporters. But Jobs had his own intuitive

sense of how to stoke the excitement, manipulate the competitive instincts of journalists,

and trade exclusive access for lavish treatment.

In December 1983 he took his elfin engineering wizards, Andy Hertzfeld and Burrell Smith, to

New York to visit Newsweek to pitch a story on “the kids who created the Mac.” After giving

a demo of the Macintosh, they were taken upstairs to meet Katharine Graham, the legendary

proprietor, who had an insatiable interest in whatever was new. Afterward the magazine sent its

technology columnist and a photographer to spend time in Palo Alto with Hertzfeld and Smith.

The result was a flattering and smart four-page profile of the two of them, with pictures that made

them look like cherubim of a new age. The article quoted Smith saying what he wanted to do next:

“I want to build the computer of the 90’s. Only I want to do it tomorrow.” The article also described

the mix of volatility and charisma displayed by his boss: “Jobs sometimes defends his ideas with highly

vocal displays of temper that aren’t always bluster; rumor has it that he has threatened to fire employees

for insisting that his computers should have cursor keys, a feature that Jobs considers obsolete.

But when he is on his best behavior, Jobs is a curious blend of charm and impatience, oscillating between

 

shrewd reserve and his

favorite expression

of enthusiasm:

‘Insanely great.’”

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Sculley was initially skeptical when he saw the storyboards, but Jobs

Sculley was initially skeptical when he saw the storyboards, but Jobs insisted that they

needed something revolutionary. He was able to get an unprecedented budget of

$750,000 just to film the ad, which they planned to premiere during the Super Bowl.

 

 

Ridley Scott made it in London using dozens of real skinheads among the enthralled

masses listening to Big Brother on the screen. A female discus thrower was chosen to

play the heroine. Using a cold industrial setting dominated by metallic gray hues, Scott

 

evoked the dystopian aura of Blade Runner. Just at the moment when Big Brother announces

“We shall prevail!” the heroine’s hammer smashes the screen and it vaporizes

in a flash of light and smoke.

When Jobs previewed the ad for the Apple sales force at the meeting in Hawaii, they

were thrilled. So he screened it for the board at its December 1983 meeting. When the

lights came back on in the boardroom, everyone was mute. Philip Schlein, the CEO of

Macy’s California, had his head on the table. Mike Markkula stared silently; at first it

seemed he was overwhelmed by the power of the ad. Then he spoke: “Who wants to

move to find a new agency?” Sculley recalled, “Most of them thought it was the worst

commercial they had ever seen.” Sculley himself got cold feet. He asked Chiat/Day to

sell off the two commercial spots—one sixty seconds, the other

thirty—that they had purchased.

Jobs was beside himself. One evening Wozniak, who had been floating into and out of

Apple for the previous two years, wandered into the Macintosh building. Jobs grabbed

him and said, “Come over here and look at this.” He pulled out a VCR and played the ad.

“I was astounded,” Woz recalled. “I thought it was the most incredible thing.” When Jobs

said the board had decided not to run it during the Super Bowl, Wozniak asked what the

cost of the time slot was. Jobs told him $800,000. With his usual

 

impulsive goodness,

Wozniak immediately

offered, “Well, I’ll

pay half if you will.”

www.shlfao.com

Jobs liked that. Indeed the concept for the ad had a special

Jobs liked that. Indeed the concept for the ad had a special resonance for him.

He fancied himself a rebel, and he liked to associate himself with the values of the

ragtag band of hackers and pirates he recruited to the Macintosh group. Even though

 

he had left the apple commune in Oregon to start the Apple corporation, he still wanted

to be viewed as a denizen of the counterculture rather than the corporate culture.

But he also realized, deep inside, that he had increasingly abandoned the hacker spirit.

Some might even accuse him of selling out. When Wozniak held true to the Homebrew

 

ethic by sharing his design for the Apple I for free, it was Jobs who insisted that they sell

the boards instead. He was also the one who, despite Wozniak’s reluctance, wanted to turn

Apple into a corporation and not freely distribute stock options to the friends who had been

in the garage with them. Now he was about to launch the Macintosh, a machine that violated

many of the principles of the hacker’s code: It was overpriced; it would have no slots, which

meant that hobbyists could not plug in their own expansion cards or jack into the motherboard

to add their own new functions; and it took special tools just to open the plastic case. It was

a closed and controlled system, like something designed by Big Brother rather than by a hacker.

So the “1984” ad was a way of reaffirming, to himself and to the world, his desired self-image.

The heroine, with a drawing of a Macintosh emblazoned on her pure white tank top, was a renegade

out to foil the establishment. By hiring Ridley Scott, fresh off the success of Blade Runner, as the

director, Jobs could attach himself and Apple to the cyberpunk ethos of the time. With the ad,

Apple could identify itself with the rebels and hackers

 

who thought differently,

and Jobs could reclaim

his right to identify

with them as well.

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The “1984” AdIn the spring of 1983, when Jobs had begun to plan

The “1984” AdIn the spring of 1983, when Jobs had begun to plan for the

Macintosh launch, he asked for a commercial that was as revolutionary and

astonishing as the product they had created. “I want something that will stop

 

 

people in their tracks,” he said. “I want a thunderclap.” The task fell to the Chiat/Day

advertising agency, which had acquired the Apple account when it bought the advertising

side of Regis McKenna’s business. The person put in charge was a lanky beach bum with

a bushy beard, wild hair, goofy grin, and twinkling eyes named Lee Clow, who was the

creative director of the agency’s office in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles. Clow

was savvy and fun, in a laid-back yet focused way, and he forged a bond

with Jobs that would last three decades.

Clow and two of his team, the copywriter Steve Hayden and the art director Brent Thomas,

had been toying with a tagline that played off the George Orwell novel: “Why 1984 won’t be like

1984.” Jobs loved it, and asked them to develop it for the Macintosh launch. So they put together

a storyboard for a sixty-second ad that would look like a scene from a sci-fi movie. It featured a

rebellious young woman outrunning the Orwellian thought police and throwing a

sledgehammer into a screen showing a mind-controlling speech by Big Brother.

The concept captured the zeitgeist of the personal computer revolution. Many young people,

especially those in the counterculture, had viewed computers as instruments that could be used by

Orwellian governments and giant corporations to sap individuality. But by the end of the 1970s,

they were also being seen as potential tools for personal empowerment. The ad cast Macintosh

as a warrior for the latter cause—a cool, rebellious, and heroic company that was the only thing

standing in

 

the way of the big evil

corporation’s plan for

world domination

and total mind control.

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The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?”

The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?” At that moment a screen

came down from the ceiling and showed a preview of an upcoming sixty-second television ad for

the Macintosh. In a few months it was destined to make advertising history, but in the meantime

it served its purpose of rallying Apple’s demoralized sales force. Jobs had always been able to draw

energy by imagining himself as a rebel pitted against the forces of darkness. Now he was

able to energize his troops with the same vision.

 

Jobs was at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan, preparing for the press previews, so a Sunday morning

conference call was scheduled. The software manager calmly explained the situation to Jobs, while

Hertzfeld and the others huddled around the speakerphone holding their breath. All they needed

was an extra two weeks. The initial shipments to the dealers could have a version of the software

labeled “demo,” and these could be replaced as soon as the new code was finished at the end of

the month. There was a pause. Jobs did not get angry; instead he spoke in cold, somber tones. He

told them they were really great. So great, in fact, that he knew they could get this done. “There’s

no way we’re slipping!” he declared. There was a collective gasp in the Bandley building work space.

“You guys have been working on this stuff for months now, another couple weeks isn’t going to make

that much of a difference. You may as well get it over with. I’m going to ship the code a week from

Monday, with your names on it.”

“Well, we’ve got to finish it,” Steve Capps said. And so they did. Once again, Jobs’s reality distortion

field pushed them to do what they had thought impossible. On Friday Randy Wigginton brought in a

huge bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans for the final three all-nighters. When Jobs arrived at

work at 8:30 a.m. that Monday, he found Hertzfeld sprawled nearly comatose on the couch. They talked

for a few minutes about a remaining tiny glitch, and Jobs decreed that it wasn’t a problem. Hertzfeld

dragged himself to his blue Volkswagen Rabbit (license plate: MACWIZ) and drove home to bed.

A short while later Apple’s Fremont factory began to roll out boxes emblazoned with the colorful line

 

drawings of the Macintosh.

Real artists ship, Jobs had

declared, and now the

Macintosh team had.

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