Espinosa unveiled his inspired solution: “The Steve Jobs Roll Your Own Calculator Construction Set.” It allowed the user to tweak and personalize the look of the calculator by changing the thickness of the lines, the size of the buttons, the shading, the background, and other attributes. Instead of just
laughing, Jobs plunged in and started to play around with the look to suit his tastes. After about ten minutes he got it the way he liked. His design, not surprisingly, was the one that shipped on the Mac and remained the standard for fifteen years.
Although his focus was on the Macintosh, Jobs wanted to create a consistent design language for all Apple products. So he set up a contest to choose a world-class designer who would be for Apple what Dieter Rams was for Braun. The project was code-named Snow White, not because of his preference for
the color but because the products to be designed were code-named after the seven dwarfs. The winner was Hartmut Esslinger, a German designer who was responsible for the look of Sony’s Trinitron televisions. Jobs flew to the Black
Forest region of Bavaria to meet him and was impressed not only with Esslinger’s passion but also his spirited way of driving his Mercedes at more than one hundred miles per hour.shlf419
Even though he was German, Esslinger proposed that there should be a “born-in-America gene for Apple’s DNA” that would produce a “California global” look, inspired by “Hollywood and music, a bit of rebellion, and natural sexshlf419
appeal.” His guiding principle was “Form follows emotion,” a play on the familiar maxim that form follows function. He produced forty models of products to demonstrate the concept, and when Jobs saw them he
proclaimed, “Yes, this is it!” The Snow White look, which was adopted immediately for the Apple IIc, featured white cases, tight rounded curves, and lines of thin grooves for both ventilation and decoration. Jobs offeredaishahai
Esslinger a contract on the condition that he move to California. They shook hands and, in Esslinger’s not-so-modest words, “that handshake launched one of the most decisive collaborations in the history of industrial design.”
Esslinger’s firm, frogdesign,2 opened in Palo Alto in mid-1983 with a $1.2 million annual contract to work for Apple, and from then on everyaishahai
“I have a lot of stuff to show you.” Horn did, and Jobs hooked him. “Steve was so passionate about building this amazing device that would change the world,” Horn recalled. “By sheer force of his personality, he changed my mind.” Jobs showed Horn exactly how the plastic would be molded and would
fit together at perfect angles, and how good the board was going to look inside. “He wanted me to see that this whole thing was going to happen and it was thought out from end to end. Wow, I said, I don’t see that kind of passion every day. So I signed up.”
Jobs even tried to reengage Wozniak. “I resented the fact that he had not been doing much, but then I thought, hell, I wouldn’t be here without his brilliance,” Jobs later told me. But as soon as Jobs was starting to get himqinpad
interested in the Mac, Wozniak crashed his new single-engine Beechcraft while attempting a takeoff near Santa Cruz. He barely survived and ended up with partial amnesia. Jobs spent time at the hospital, but when Wozniak recoveredqinpad
he decided it was time to take a break from Apple. Ten years after dropping out of Berkeley, he decided to return there to finally get his degree, enrolling under the name of Rocky Raccoon Clark.
In order to make the project his own, Jobs decided it should no longer be code-named after Raskin’s favorite apple. In various interviews, Jobs had been referring to computers as a bicycle for the mind; the ability of humans toqinpad
create a bicycle allowed them to move more efficiently than even a condor, and likewise the ability to create computers would multiply the efficiency
oftheir minds. So one day Jobs decreed that henceforth the Macintosh should be known instead as the Bicycle. This did not go over well. “Burrell and I thought this was the silliest thing we ever heard, and we simply refused to
A Bauhaus AestheticUnlike most kids who grew up in Eichler homes, Jobs knew what they were and why they were so wonderful. He liked the notion of simple and clean modernism produced for the masses. He also loved listening
to his father describe the styling intricacies of various cars. So from the beginning at Apple, he believed that great industrial design—a colorfully simple logo, a sleek case for the Apple II—would set the company apart and make its products distinctive.
The company’s first office, after it moved out of his family garage, was in a small building it shared with a Sony sales office. Sony was famous for its signature style and memorable product designs, so Jobs would drop by to
study the marketing material. “He would come in looking scruffy and fondle the product brochures and point out design features,” said Dan’l Lewin, who
worked there. “Every now and then, he would ask, ‘Can I take this brochure?’” By 1980, he had hired Lewin.
His fondness for the dark, industrial look of Sony receded around June 1981, when he began attending the annual International Design Conference in Aspen. The meeting that year focused on Italian style, and it featured the
architect-designer Mario Bellini, the filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, the car maker Sergio Pininfarina, and the Fiat heiress and politician Susanna Agnelli. “I had come to revere the Italian designers, just like
He repeatedly emphasized that Apple’s products would be clean and simple. “We will make them bright and pure and honest about being high-tech, rather than a heavy industrial look of black, black, black, black, like Sony,” he
preached. “So that’s our approach. Very simple, and we’re really shooting for Museum of Modern Art quality. The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it
simple. Really simple.” Apple’s design mantra would remain the one featured on its first brochure: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Jobs felt that design simplicity should be linked to making products easy to use. Those goals do not always go together. Sometimes a design can be so sleek and simple that a user finds it intimidating or unfriendly to navigate.
“The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious,” Jobs told the crowd of design mavens. For example, he extolled the desktop metaphor he was creating for the Macintosh. “People know how to
deal with a desktop intuitively. If you walk into an office, there are papers on the desk. The one on the top is the most important. People know how to
switch priority. Part of the reason we model our computers on metaphors like the desktop is that we can leverage this experience people already have.”
Speaking at the same time as Jobs that Wednesday afternoon, but in a smaller seminar room, was Maya Lin, twenty-three, who had been catapulted into fame the previous November when her Vietnam Veterans Memorial was
dedicated in Washington, D.C. They struck up a close friendship, and Jobs invited her to visit Apple. “I came to work with Steve for a week,” Lin
recalled. “I asked him, ‘Why do computers look like clunky TV sets? Why don’t you make something thin? Why not a flat laptop?’”
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
That incident led Raskin to write a blistering memo to Mike Scott, who once again found himself in the difficult position of being a president trying to
manage a company’s temperamental cofounder and major stockholder. It was titled “Working for/with Steve Jobs,” and in it Raskin asserted:Raskin’s ouster may not have seemed fair, but it ended up being good for the Macintosh. Raskin wanted an appliance with little memory, an anemic processor, a cassette tape, no mouse, and minimal graphics. Unlike Jobs, he might have
been able to keep the price down to close to $1,000, and that may have helped Apple win market share. But he could not have pulled off what Jobs did, which was to create and market a machine that would transform personal computing. In fact we can see where the road not taken led. Raskin was hired
by Canon to build the machine he wanted. “It was the Canon Cat, and it was a total flop,” Atkinson said. “Nobody wanted it. When Steve turned the Mac into a compact version of the Lisa, it made it into a computing platform instead of a consumer electronic device.”1
He is a dreadful manager. . . . I have always liked Steve, but I have found it impossible to work for him. . . . Jobs
regularly misses appointments. This is so well-known as to be almost a running joke. . . . He acts without thinking and
with bad judgment. . . . He does not give credit where due. . . . Very often, when told of a new idea, he will immediately attack it and say that it is worthless or
even stupid, and tell you that it was a waste of time to work on it. This alone is bad management, but if the idea is a good one he will soon be telling people about it as though it was his own.
That afternoon Scott called in Jobs and Raskin for a showdown in front of Markkula. Jobs started crying. He and Raskin agreed on only one thing: Neither
could work for the other one. On the Lisa project, Scott had sided with Couch. This time he decided it was best to let Jobs win. After all, the Mac was a minor
development project housed in a distant building that could keep Jobs occupied away from the main campus. Raskin was told to take a leave of absence. “They
wanted to humor me and give me something to do, which was fine,” Jobs recalled. “It was like going
Another prank involved a pocket device Wozniak built that could emit TV signals. He would take it to a room
where a group of people were watching TV, such as in a dorm, and secretly press the button so that the screen
would get fuzzy with static. When someone got up and whacked the set, Wozniak would let go of the button and
the picture would clear up. Once he had the unsuspecting viewers hopping up and down at his will, he would make
things harder. He would keep the picture fuzzy until someone touched the antenna. Eventually he would make people
think they had to hold the antenna while standing on one foot or touching the top of the set. Years later, at a keynote
presentation where he was having his own trouble getting a video to work, Jobs broke from his script and recounted
the fun they had with the device. “Woz would have it in his pocket and we’d go into a dorm . . .
where a bunch of folks would be, like, watching Star Trek, and he’d screw up the TV,
and someone would go up to fix it, and just as they had the foot off the ground he would turn it back on,
and as they put their foot back on the ground he’d screw it up again.” Contorting himself into a pretzel onstage, Jobs
concluded to great laughter, “And within five minutes he would have someone like this.”
The Blue Box
The ultimate combination of pranks and electronics—and the escapade that helped to create Apple—was
launched one Sunday afternoon when Wozniak read an article in Esquire that his mother had left for him
on the kitchen table. It was September 1971, and he was about to drive off the next day to Berkeley,
his third college. The story, Ron Rosenbaum’s “Secrets of the Little Blue Box,” described how hackers and
phone phreakers had found ways to make long-distance calls for free by replicating the tones that routed
signals on the AT&T network. “Halfway through the article, I had to call my best friend, Steve Jobs, and
read parts of this long article to him,” Wozniak recalled. He knew
No one had ever created a digital version of a Blue Box, but
Woz was made for the challenge. Using diodes and transistors
from Radio Shack, and with the help of a music student in his
dorm who had perfect pitch, he got it built before Thanksgiving.
“I have never designed a circuit I was prouder of,” he said. “I still think it was incredible.”
One night Wozniak drove down from Berkeley to Jobs’s house
to try it. They attempted to call Wozniak’s uncle in Los Angeles,
but they got a wrong number. It didn’t matter; their device had
worked. “Hi! We’re calling you for free! We’re calling you for free!”
Wozniak shouted. The person on the other end was confused and annoyed. Jobs chimed in,
“We’re calling from California! From California! With a Blue Box.” This probably
baffled the man even more, since he was also in California.
At first the Blue Box was used for fun and pranks. The most daring of these was
when they called the Vatican and Wozniak pretended to be Henry Kissinger
wanting to speak to the pope. “Ve are at de summit meeting in Moscow,
and ve need to talk to de pope,” Woz intoned. He was told that it was 5:30 a.m. and
the pope was sleeping. When he called back, he got a bishop who was supposed
to serve as the translator. But they never actually got the pope on the line.
“They realized that Woz wasn’t Henry Kissinger,” Jobs recalled. “We were at a public phone booth.”
It was then that they reached an important milestone, one that would
establish a pattern in their partnerships: Jobs came up with the idea that
the Blue Box could be more than merely a hobby; they could build and sell them.
“I got together the rest of the components, like the casing and power supply and
keypads, and figured out how we could price it,” Jobs said, foreshadowing roles he
would play when they founded Apple. The finished product was about the size of two
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
When he got off the plane in New Delhi, he felt waves
of heat rising from the tarmac, even though it was only
April. He had been given the name of a hotel, but it was full,
so he went to one his taxi driver insisted was good. “I’m sure he
was getting some baksheesh, because he took me to this complete dive.”
Jobs asked the owner whether the water was filtered and foolishly
believed the answer. “I got dysentery pretty fast. I was sick, really