As would become his standard practice, Jobs offered to provide

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.”

When the hype died down, the reaction to the NeXT computer was muted, especially since it was not yet commercially available. Bill Joy, the brilliant and wry chief scientist at rival Sun Microsystems, called it “the first Yuppie

workstation,” which was not an unalloyed compliment. Bill Gates, as might be expected, continued to be publicly dismissive. “Frankly, I’m disappointed,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Back in 1981, we were truly excited by the

Macintosh when Steve showed it to us, because when you put it side-by-side with another computer, it was unlike anything anybody had ever seen before.” The NeXT machine was not like that. “In the grand scope of things,

most of these features are truly trivial.” He said that Microsoft would continue its plans not to write software for the NeXT. Right after the announcement event, Gates wrote a parody email to his staff. “All reality has

been completely suspended,” it began. Looking back at it, Gates laughs that it may have been “the best email I ever wrote.”

When the NeXT computer finally went on sale in mid-1989, the factory was primed to churn out ten thousand units a month. As it turned out, sales were about four hundred a month. The beautiful factory robots, so nicely

 

painted, remained

mostly idle, and

NeXT continued to

hemorrhage cash.

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All of the good cheer served to sugarcoat, or distract attention

All of the good cheer served to sugarcoat, or distract attention from, the bad news. When it came time to announce the price of the new machine, Jobs did what he would often do in product demonstrations: reel off the features,

describe them as being “worth thousands and thousands of dollars,” and get the audience to imagine how expensive it really should be. Then he announced what he hoped would seem like a low price: “We’re going to be

charging higher education a single price of $6,500.” From the faithful, there was scattered applause. But his panel of academic advisors had long pushed to keep the price to between $2,000 and $3,000, and they thought that Jobs

had promised to do so. Some of them were appalled. This was especially true once they discovered that the optional printer would cost another $2,000, and the slowness of the optical disk would make the purchase of a $2,500 external hard disk advisable.

There was another disappointment that he tried to downplay: “Early next year, we will have our 0.9 release, which is for software developers and aggressive end users.” There was a bit of nervous laughter. What he was

saying was that the real release of the machine and its software, known as the 1.0 release, would not actually be happening in early 1989. In fact he didn’t set a hard date. He merely suggested it would be sometime in the second

quarter of that year. At the first NeXT retreat back in late 1985, he had refused to budge, despite Joanna Hoffman’s pushback, from his commitment to have the machine finished in early 1987. Now it was clear it would be more than two years later.qinpad

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 qinpad

going to be so late, Jobs

replied, “It’s not late.

It’s five years ahead

of its time.”

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One of Jobs’s management philosophies was that it is crucial,

One of Jobs’s management philosophies was that it is crucial, every now and then, to roll the dice and “bet the company” on some new idea or technology. At the NeXT launch, he boasted of an example that, as it turned out, would

not be a wise gamble: having a high-capacity (but slow) optical read/write disk and no floppy disk as a backup. “Two years ago we made a decision,” he said. “We saw some new technology and we made a decision to risk our company.”

Then he turned to a feature that would prove more prescient. “What we’ve done is made the first real digital books,” he said, noting the inclusion of the Oxford edition of Shakespeare and other tomes. “There has not been an

advancement in the state of the art of printed book technology since Gutenberg.”

At times he could be amusingly aware of his own foibles, and he used the electronic book demonstration to poke fun at himself. “A word that’s sometimes used to describe me is ‘mercurial,’” he said, then paused. The

audience laughed knowingly, especially those in the front rows, which were filled with NeXT employees and former members of the Macintosh team. Then he pulled up the word in the computer’s dictionary and read the first

definition: “Of or relating to, or born under the planet Mercury.” Scrolling down, he said, “I think the third one is the one they mean: ‘Characterized by unpredictable changeableness of mood.’” There was a bit more laughter. “If

we scroll down the thesaurus, though, we see that the antonym is ‘saturnine.’ Well what’s that? By simply double-clicking on it, we immediately look that up in the dictionary, and here it is: ‘Cold and steady in moods. Slow to act or

change. Of a gloomy or surly disposition.’” A little smile came across his face as he waited for the ripple of laughter. “Well,” he concluded, “I don’t think ‘mercurial’ is so bad after all.” After the applause, he used the quotations book shlf419

to make a more subtle point, about his reality distortion field. The quote he chose was from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. After Alice laments that no matter how hard she tries she can’t believe impossible things,

the White Queen retorts, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things beforeshlf419

breakfast.” Especially

from the front rows,

there was a roar

of knowing laughter.

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More than three thousand people showed up at the event, lining up

More than three thousand people showed up at the event, lining up two hours before curtain time. They were not disappointed, at least by the show. Jobs was onstage for three hours, and he again proved to be, in the words of

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times, “the Andrew Lloyd Webber of product introductions, a master of stage flair and special effects.” Wes Smith of the Chicago Tribune said the launch was “to product demonstrations what Vatican II was to church meetings.”

Jobs had the audience cheering from his opening line: “It’s great to be back.” He began by recounting the history of personal computer architecture, and he promised that they would now witness an event “that occurs only once or

twice in a decade—a time when a new architecture is rolled out that is going to change the face of computing.” The NeXT software and hardware were

designed, he said, after three years of consulting with universities across the country. “What we realized was that higher ed wants a personal mainframe.”

As usual there were superlatives. The product was “incredible,” he said, “the best thing we could have imagined.” He praised the beauty of even the parts unseen. Balancing on his fingertips the foot-square circuit board that would

be nestled in the foot-cube box, he enthused, “I hope you get a chance to look at this a little later. It’s the most beautiful printed circuit board I’ve ever seen in my life.” He then showed how the computer could play speeches—he

featured King’s “I Have a Dream” and Kennedy’s “Ask Not”—and send email with audio attachments. He leaned into the microphone on the computer to record one of his own. “Hi, this is Steve, sending a message on a pretty historic day.” Then he asked those in the

audience to add

“a round of applause”

to the message,

and they did.

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The one phrase that was true was the one about Paul Jobs

The one phrase that was true was the one about Paul Jobs’s looking like someone in a Rockwell painting. And perhaps the last phrase, the one about Jobs changing the world. Certainly Perot believed that. Like Sculley, he saw

himself in Jobs. “Steve’s like me,” Perot told the Washington Post’s David Remnick. “We’re weird in the same way. We’re soul mates.”

Gates and NeXT

Bill 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.”

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Perot brought to NeXT something that was almost

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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But Gates was brutal to Jobs, just as Jobs could be to others.

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.

When they happened to meet in the hallway at a conference, Jobs started berating Gates for his refusal to do software for NeXT. “When you get a market, I will consider it,” Gates replied. Jobs got angry. “It was a screaming

battle, right in front of everybody,” recalled Adele Goldberg, the Xerox PARC engineer. Jobs insisted that NeXT was the next wave of computing. Gates, as he often did, got more expressionless as Jobs got more heated. He finally just shook his head and walked away.

Beneath their personal rivalry—and occasional grudging respect—was their basic philosophical difference. Jobs believed in an end-to-end integration of hardware and software, which led him to build a machine that was not

compatible with others. Gates believed in, and profited from, a world in which different companies made machines that were compatible with one another; their hardware ran a standard operating system (Microsoft’s Windows) and

could all use the same software apps (such as Microsoft’s Word and Excel). “His product comes with an interesting feature called incompatibility,” Gates told the Washington Post. “It doesn’t run any of the existing software. It’s a super-nice computer. I don’t think if I

went out to design

an incompatible

computer I would have

done as well as he did.”

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At a forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1989,

At a forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1989, Jobs and Gates appeared sequentially, laying out their competing worldviews. Jobs spoke about how new waves come along in the computer industry every few years. Macintosh

had launched a revolutionary new approach with the graphical interface; now NeXT was doing it with object-oriented programming tied to a powerful new machine based on an optical disk. Every major software vendor realized they

had to be part of this new wave, he said, “except Microsoft.” When Gates came up, he reiterated his belief that Jobs’s end-to-end control of the software and the hardware was destined for failure, just as Apple had failed in competing against the Microsoft Windows standard. “The hardware market and the

software market are separate,” he said. When asked about the great design that could come from Jobs’s approach, Gates gestured to the NeXT prototype that was still sitting onstage and sneered, “If you want black, I’ll get you a can of paint.”

IBM

Jobs came up with a brilliant jujitsu maneuver against Gates, one that could have changed the balance of power in the computer industry forever. It required Jobs to do two things that were against his nature: licensing out his

software to another hardware maker and getting into bed with IBM. He had a pragmatic streak, albeit a tiny one, so he was able to overcome his reluctance. But his heart was never fully in it, which is why the alliance would turn out to be short-lived.

It began at a party, a truly memorable one, for the seventieth birthday of the Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in June 1987 in Washington. Six hundred guests attended, including President Ronald Reagan. Jobs flew in

from California and IBM’s chairman John Akers from New York. It was the first time they had met. Jobs took the opportunity to bad-mouth Microsoft and attempt to wean IBM from using its Windows operating system. “I couldn’t resist telling him I thought IBM was taking a giant gamble betting its entire software strategy on

Microsoft, because I didn’

t think its software

was very good,”

Jobs recalled.

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To Jobs’s delight, Akers replied, “How would you like to help us?”

To Jobs’s delight, Akers replied, “How would you like to help us?” Within a few weeks Jobs showed up at IBM’s Armonk, New York, headquarters with his software engineer Bud Tribble. They put on a demo of NeXT, which impressed

the IBM engineers. Of particular significance was NeXTSTEP, the machine’s object-oriented operating system. “NeXTSTEP took care of a lot of trivial

That was too much for Jobs, at least for the time being. He cut off the clone discussions. And he began to cool toward IBM. The chill became reciprocal. When

the person who made the deal at IBM moved on, Jobs went to Armonk to meet his replacement, Jim Cannavino. They cleared the room and talked

one-on-one. Jobs demanded more money to keep the relationship going and to license newer versions of NeXTSTEP to IBM. Cannavino made no commitments,

and he subsequently stopped returning Jobs’s phone calls. The deal lapsed. NeXT got a bit of money for a licensing fee, but it never got the chance to change the world.

programming chores that slow down the software development process,” said Andrew Heller, the general manager of

IBM’s workstation unit, who was so impressed by Jobs that he named his newborn son Steve.

The negotiations lasted into 1988, with Jobs becoming prickly over tiny details. He would stalk out of meetings over

disagreements about colors or design, only to be calmed down by Tribble or Lewin. He didn’t seem to know

which frightened him more, IBM or Microsoft. In April Perot decided to play host for a mediating session at his Dallas

headquarters, and a deal was struck: IBM would license the current version of the NeXTSTEP software, and if the

managers liked it, they would use it on some of their workstations. IBM sent to Palo Alto a 125-page contract. Jobs tossed it down without reading it. “You

don’t get it,” he said as he walked out of the room. He demanded a simpler contract of only a few pages, which he got within a week.

Jobs wanted to keep the arrangement secret from Bill Gates until the big unveiling of the NeXT computer, scheduled for October. But IBM insisted on

being forthcoming. Gates was furious. He realized this could wean IBM off its dependence on Microsoft operating systems. “NeXTSTEP isn’t compatible with anything,” he raged to IBM executives.

At first Jobs seemed to have pulled off Gates’s worst nightmare. Other computer makers that were beholden to Microsoft’s

operating systems, most notably Compaq and Dell, came to ask Jobs for the right to clone NeXT and license NeXTSTEP. There were even

offers to pay a lot more

if NeXT would get

out of the hardware

business altogether.

ruironghuishou.com

No detail was too small. Jobs went over the invitation list

No detail was too small. Jobs went over the invitation list and even the lunch menu (mineral water, croissants, cream cheese, bean sprouts). He picked out a video projection company and paid it $60,000 for help. And he hired the

postmodernist theater producer George Coates to stage the show. Coates and Jobs decided, not surprisingly, on an austere and radically simple stage look. The unveiling of the black perfect cube would occur on a starkly minimalist

stage setting with a black background, a table covered by a black cloth, a black veil draped over the computer, and a simple vase of flowers. Because

neither the hardware nor the operating system was actually ready, Jobs was urged to do a simulation. But he refused. Knowing it would be like walking a tightrope without a net, he decided to do the demonstration live.

them on television, he said, “I was finishing their sentences for them.” It was a line eerily similar to one Sculley had often used. Perot called Jobs the next day and offered, “If you ever need an investor, call me.”

Jobs did indeed need one, badly. But he was careful not to show it. He waited a week before calling back. Perot sent some of his analysts to size up NeXT, but Jobs took care to deal directly with Perot. One of his great regrets in life,

Perot later said, was that he had not bought Microsoft, or a large stake in it, when a very young Bill Gates had come to visit him in Dallas in 1979. By the time Perot called Jobs, Microsoft had just gone public with a $1 billion

valuation. Perot had missed out on the opportunity to make a lot of money and have a fun adventure. He was eager not to make that mistake again.

Jobs made an offer to Perot that was three times more costly than had quietly been offered to venture capitalists a few months earlier. For $20 million,

Perot would get 16% of the equity in the company, after Jobs put in another $5 million. That meant the company would be valued at about $126 million. But money was not a major consideration for Perot. After a meeting with

Jobs, he declared that he was in. “I pick the jockeys, and the jockeys pick the horses and ride them,

 

” he told Jobs. “

You guys are the

ones I’m betting on,

so you figure it out.”

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