Steve Jobs Curated

CEO- Apple, Co-founder- Pixar

CURATED BY :      +44 others


  • How has a college dropout mark turned as an advantage for you?

  • How did getting fired from your own company turned out to be an upper hand ?

  • What has been your management style and how have you resolved conflict in your organisation?

  • What is the thing you learned at Apple and applied at Next?

  • How Java in any of its incarnations addresses the ideas embodied and opened up?

  • Tell us about your family and share some memories of your childhood.

    I do remember growing up in the late 50's and early 60's. It was a very interesting time in the United States. America was sort of at its pinnacle of post World War II prosperity and everything had been fairly straight and narrow from haircuts to culture in every way, and it was just starting to broaden into the 60's where things were going to start expanding out in new directions. Everything was still very successful. Very young. America seemed young and naive in many ways to me, from my memories at that time.

  • Some people say that the new technology may be a way to bypass unions. Are you optimistic about that?

    I absolutely don't believe that. I've helped with more computers in more schools than anybody else in the world and I absolutely convinced that is by no means the most important thing. The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can. The elements of discovery are all around you. You don't need a computer. Here - why does that fall? You know why? Nobody in the entire world knows why that falls. We can describe it pretty accurately but no one knows why. I don't need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why.

  • Looking back at the years you were there, what were the accomplishments you are most proud of? Are there a couple of Apple stories you really like to tell?

    Apple was this incredible journey. I mean we did some amazing things there. The thing that bound us together at Apple was the ability to make things that were going to change the world. That was very important.We were all pretty young. The average age in the company was mid to late twenties. Hardly anybody had families at the beginning and we all worked like maniacs, and the greatest joy was that we felt we were fashioning collective works of art much like twentieth century physics. Something important that would last, that people contributed to and then could give to more people; the amplification factor was very large.

  • Is there a user of Apple or a story that you could tell that in your mind exemplifies what the company stood for and its values at its best? What customers were using the Apple when you were there?

    There were two kinds of customers. There were the educational aspects of Apple and then there were sort of the non-educational. On the non-educational side, Apple was two things. One, it was the first "lifestyle" computer and, secondly, it's hard to remember how bad it was in the early 1980's. With IBM taking over the world with the PC, with DOS out there; it was far worse than the Apple II. They tried to copy the Apple II and they had done a pretty bad job.You needed to know a lot. Things were kind of slipping backwards. You saw the 1984 commercial. Macintosh was basically this relatively small company in Cupertino, California, taking on the goliath, IBM, and saying "Wait a minute, your way is wrong. This is not the way we want computers to go. This is not the legacy we want to leave. This is not what we want our kids to be learning. This is wrong and we are going to show you the right way to do it and here it is. It's called Macintosh and it is so much better. It's going to beat you and you're going to do it."

  • What steps had you taken to make sure that the iPhone’s applications are secure and don’t violate user privacy?

  • After Apple and Next, how do you think about yourself?

  • Tell me about what motivated you to establish NeXT? What were the goals you set out to accomplish when you set-up this new company?

    We basically wanted to keep doing what we were doing at Apple, to keep innovating. But we made a mistake, which was to try to follow the same formula we did at Apple, to make the whole widget. But the market was changing. The industry was changing. The scale was changing.And in the end we knew we would be either the last company to make it or the first to not make it. We were right on the edge. We thought we would be the last one that made it, but we were wrong. We were the first one that didn't. We put an end to the companies that tried to do that. We certainly made our fair share of mistakes, but in the end I think we should have taken a bit longer to realize the world was changing and just gone on to be a software company right off the bat.

  • What has been your strategy of reaching out to your customers?

  • What marketing strategies did you adopt to capture the market?

  • What are the core values that Apple stands for?

  • How does Apple spread the core values it stands for to its customers?

  • How did Apple come up with the idea of the iPhone?

  • How many businesses does Apple actually have?

  • What is your say about the Mac business and where do you think it is?

  • What change can be expected in the ipod platform?

  • Is the iphone a wireless ipod or is it a phone that has an ipod in it?

  • What is your view on the decision of not having a physical keyboard for the iphone?

  • Why is Apple more successful in its business compared to other companies?

  • What did you look for when you recruited people for your company?

  • How did you launch Apple computers?

  • At Apple, what has been the trick to managing people effectively?

  • What advice would Steve Jobs like to give to entrepreneurs?

  • Would you like to talk about your liver transplant ?

  • What were your competitors like during the initial days of Apple?

  • How does Apple differentiate its products from those of others?

  • What do you have to say about Microsoft?

  • How did you get involved with personal computers?

  • What sparked the jump from blue boxes to PCs ?

  • What were your dreams and ambitions for Apple 2?

  • How did you learn to run a company?

  • Before inventing the computers and while working on the HP 90 100, what do people do with the programs and how are these programs important? ?

  • With the success of your company, what is it like to be rich ?

  • Was it a cause for worry for Apple when IBM entered the market?

  • How did you implement the vision you learnt from XEROX PARC ?

  • What’s important to you with regard to product development?

  • Can you tell about the people at MAC ?

  • How and why did Apple get into desktop publishing which would become the max killer app ?

  • Did you envisioned desktop publishing, was that a no-brainer?

  • Tell us about your departure from Apple.

  • During the early MacIntosh days there was always a Steve and John show, what made you two split?

  • How was your vision different from John Sculley’s when you had to leave Apple?

  • What are your opinions about Microsoft’s product?

  • What motivated you to establish NeXT and what were the goals you set out to accomplish when you set-up this new company?

    We basically wanted to keep doing what we were doing at Apple, to keep innovating. But we made a mistake, which was to try to follow the same formula we did at Apple, to make the whole widget. But the market was changing. The industry was changing. The scale was changing. And in the end we knew we would be either the last company to make it or the first to not make it. We were right on the edge. We thought we would be the last one that made it, but we were wrong. We were the first one that didn't. We put an end to the companies that tried to do that. We certainly made our fair share of mistakes, but in the end I think we should have taken a bit longer to realize the world was changing and just gone on to be a software company right off the bat.

  • What are the features that are on the NeXT machine that are still missing from machines today?

    Well first of all it, was a totally 'plug-and-play' machine. Except for Macintosh, that's hard to find. It's an extremely powerful machine, way beyond the Macintosh. So it sort of nicely combined the power of the workstations with the 'plug and playness' of the Mac. Second of all, the machine had a fit and finish that you don't find today. I don't just mean in packaging; I mean in terms of operation. Simple things to complex things. Simple things like soft power on and off. A trivial little thing but as you know one, of the biggest reasons people lose information on computers is they turn them off at the wrong time. And when you get into a multi-tasking network system, that could have much more severe consequences. So we were the first people to do that and some of the only people who do that, where you push a button and you request the computer to turn off. It figures out what it needs to do to shut down gracefully and then turns itself off. Ofcourse the NeXT Computer was also the first computer with built-in high  quality sound, CD quality sound. Most people do that now. It took them a long time but most people do that. It was just ahead of its time.

  • What are your thoughts on the current status and the future of the Internet and the commercial online services and how they’re affecting computer development.

    The Internet and the World Wide Web are clearly the most exciting thing going on in computing today. They're exciting for three or four reasons. Number one, ultimately computers are turning into communications devices and ultimately we're spending more and more of the cycles of the computer to not only make it easy to use but to make it easy to communicate. The Web is the missing piece of the puzzle which is really going to power that vision much farther forward. It's very exciting in that way. Secondly, it's very exciting because it is going to destroy vast layers of our economy and make available a presence in the marketplace for very small companies, one that is equal to very large companies.

  • The World Wide Web is literally becoming a global phenomenon. Are you optimistic about it staying free?

    Yes, I am optimistic about it staying free but before you say it's global too fast, it's estimated that over one-third of the total Internet traffic in the world originates or destines in California. So I actually think this is a pretty typical case where California is again on the leading edge not only in a technical but cultural shift. So I do expect the Web to be a worldwide phenomenon, distributed fairly broadly. But right now I think it's a U.S. phenomenon that's moving to be global, and one which is very concentrated in certain pockets, such as California. 

  • What are the factors of success for young people today? What should they avoid?

    I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don't blame them. It's really tough and it consumes your life. If you've got a family and you're in the early days of a company, I can't imagine how one could do it. I'm sure it's been done but it's rough. It's pretty much an eighteen hour day job, seven days a week for a while. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're not going to survive. You're going to give it up. So you've got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you're passionate about, otherwise you're not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that's half the battle right there.

  • Where, when and with how many people did you kickstart the Apple foundation?

  • How would you recruit an increasing number of employees?

  • How have city residents benefited from your campus in Cupertino?

  • How do you regulate with the safety measures of your huge number of employees in the same building?

  • Tell us about Steve Jobs as a person.

  • How did you view business?

  • As the environment for the personal computer is going negative, what is your perception as an entrepreneur?

  • As we are at the post PC era, why do you think PC shall be at the center?

  • Tell us your opinions about the education system and opportunities.

  • As a lot of schools are getting digitalized, can machines can overtake humans, in your opinion?

  • What is your conspiracy theory on education and the school system?

  • In your opinion, is technology is the solution to all the world’s problems?

  • NeXT Software: What makes it different? What trends does it respond to?

    That's the real gem. I'll tell you an interesting story. When I was at Apple, a few of my acquaintances said "You really need to go over to Xerox PARC (which was Palo Alto Research Center) and see what they've got going over there."They didn't usually let too many people in but I was able to get in there and see what they were doing. I saw their early computer called the Alto, which was a phenomenal computer, and they actually showed me three things there that they had working in 1976. I saw them in 1979. Things that took really until a few years ago for us to fully re-create, for the industry to fully re-create in this case with NeXTStep. However, I didn't see all three of those things. I only saw the first one, which was so incredible to me that it saturated me. It blinded me to see the other two. It took me years to re-create them and rediscover them and incorporate them back into the model, but they were very far ahead in their thinking. They didn't have it totally right, but they had the germ of the idea of all three things. And the three things were graphical user interfaces, object oriented computing and networking.

  • Is it true that in the future object-oriented software is going to be the only kind of software, as some people say?

    Of course it's true. I remember being at Xerox at 1979. It was one of those sort of apocalyptic moments. I remember within ten minutes of seeing the graphical user interface stuff, just knowing that every computer would work this way some day; it was so obvious once you saw it. It didn't require tremendous intellect. It was so clear. The minute you understand objects, it's all exactly the same. All software will be written using object-oriented technology some day. You can argue about how long its going to take, who the winners and losers are going to be, but I don't think a rational person will debate its significance. 

  • The World Wide Web is literally becoming a global phenomenon. Are you optimistic about it staying free?

    Yes, I am optimistic about it staying free but before you say it's global too fast, it's estimated that over one-third of the total Internet traffic in the world originates or destines in California. So I actually think this is a pretty typical case where California is again on the leading edge not only in a technical but cultural shift. So I do expect the Web to be a worldwide phenomenon, distributed fairly broadly. But right now I think it's a U.S. phenomenon that's moving to be global, and one which is very concentrated in certain pockets, such as California.

  • What was the image of the computer in the mid 196Os or whenever you first saw one? And where are we now? How did the PC enact that change?

    I first saw my first computer when I was twelve. I saw my first computer when I was twelve. And it was at NASA. We had a local NASA center nearby. And it was a terminal, which was connected to a big computer somewhere and I got a timesharing account on it. And I was fascinated by this thing. And I saw my second computer a few years later which was really the first desktop computer ever made. It was made by Hewlett Packard. It was called the 9100-A. And it ran a language called BASIC. And it was very large. It had a very small cathode ray tube on it for display. And I got a chance to play with one of those maybe in 1968 or ‘69. And spent every spare moment I had trying to write programs for it. I was so fascinated by this. And so I was probably fairly lucky. And then my introduction to computers very rapidly moved from a terminal to within maybe twelve months or so, actually seeing one of the first, probably the first desktop computer ever…ever really produced. And so my point of view never really changed from being able to get my arms around it even though my arms probably didn’t quite fit around that first one.

  • What was the vision behind the NeXT machine?

    Everything that we’ve done in our — everything I’ve done with computers in my life has been along pretty much a single vector. And NeXT is just one more point on that same vector. Ah in this case what we observed was that the computing power we could give to an individual was an order magnitude more than the PCs we’re giving. In the sense that people want to do many things at once and you really need true multi-tasking. We really did want to start to network these things together in very sophisticated networks. So the technology to build that in became available. And most important we saw a way to build a software system that was about ten times as powerful than any PC. And where new software could be created in a fourth of the time. So we spent four years with fifty to hundred of the best software people we could find building this new software system. And it’s turned out beautifully.

  • How did the PC change the world?

     Well, though the analogy is nowhere perfect and certainly one needs to factor out the environmental concerns of the analogy as well. There is a lot to be said for comparing it to going from trains, from passenger trains to automobiles. And the advent of the automobile gave us a personal freedom of transportation. In the same way the advent of the computer gave us the ability to start to use computers without having to convince other people that we needed to use computers. And the biggest effect of the personal computer revolution has been to allow millions and millions of people to experience computers themselves decades before they ever would have in the old paradigm. And to allow them to participate in the making of choices and controlling their own destiny using these tools. But it has created problems. And the largest problems are that now that we have all these very powerful tools, we’re still islands and we’re still not really connecting these people using these powerful tools together. And that’s really been the challenge of the last few years and the next several years is how to connect these things back together so that we can rebuild a fabric of these things rather than just individual points flight if you will. And get the benefit of both, the passenger train and the automobile.

  • How did you know the right direction for you?

    It’s a matter of trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done. And then try to bring those things into what you are doing. Picasso had a saying: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas. Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians. They also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world. But if it hadn’t been computer science, these people would have been doing amazing things in other fields. We all brought to this a sort of “liberal arts” air, an attitude that we wanted to pull the best that we saw into this field. You don’t get that if you are very narrow.

  • What was your passion? What drove you?

    As a kid, I read an article in the Scientific American. It measured the efficiency of locomotion of various species on the planet. Bears. Chimpanzees. Raccoons. Birds. Fish. How many kilo-calories per kilometer did they spend to move? Humans were measured too. And the condor won. It was the most efficient. Humankind came in with an unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list. But somebody there had the brilliance to test a human riding a bicycle. We blew away the condor. Off the charts. This really had an impact on me. Humans are tool builders. We build tools that can dramatically amplify our innate human abilities. We ran an ad for this once that the personal computer is the bicycle of the mind. I believe that with every bone in my body. Of all the inventions of humans, the computer is going to rank near or at the top as history unfolds and we look back. It is the most awesome tool that we have ever invented. I feel incredibly lucky to be at exactly the right place in Silicon Valley, at exactly the right time, historically, where this invention has taken form. If you set a vector off into space, and you change its direction just a little bit at the beginning, the difference is dramatic when it gets a few miles out in space. If we can nudge it in the right direction, it will be a much better thing. I think we have had a chance to do that a few times. That gives me and everyone associated with it tremendous satisfaction.

  • The Apple II was a huge success. You went public and you got really rich. What’s it like to get rich?

    I was worth over a million dollars when I was 23. And over ten million dollars when I was 24, and over a hundred million dollars when I was 25. And you know, it wasn’t that important, because I never did it for the money. I think money is a wonderful thing, because it enables you to do things. It enables you to invest in ideas that don’t have a short-term payback. At that time in my life, it was not the most important thing. The most important thing was the company, the people, the products we were making. And what we were going to enable people to do with these products. So I didn’t think about the money a great deal. I never sold any stock. I just believed that the company would do very well over the long term.

  • Why did you always wear a black shirt and blue jeans at your Keynote speeches?

    When I toured factories in China and Japan, I saw that all the employees wore uniforms. I thought it would be a good idea to get uniforms for everyone at Apple but no one liked it so I made myself a uniform that I wear every day at work.

  • In your opinion, what was Apple’s greatest product?

    I think our best product was the original Macintosh computer. It was the beginning of Apple and the start of a new generation of computers.

  • What do you think was one of your biggest failures at Apple?

    Without a doubt, I think it was the Apple Lisa. It was very expensive ($9,995) and it was using six-year-old software. Also, Lisa software would not run on a Macintosh. At that point we realized that we needed to continue to support the Macintosh.

  • When did you start NeXT? Did you face any monetary dearth?

    After being fired from Apple in 1985, I started the NeXT computer company. A year later I was running out of money but I attracted attention from Ross Perot who invested a lot of money into my company.

  • How would you describe the philosophy of Apple?

  • When you look around at the technological landscape today, what’s most surprising to you?

    People say sometimes, “You work in the fastest-moving industry in the world.” I don’t feel that way. I think I work in one of the slowest. It seems to take forever to get anything done. All of the graphical-user interface stuff that we did with the Macintosh was pioneered at Xerox PARC [the company’s legendary Palo Alto Research Center] and with Doug Engelbart at SRI [a future-oriented think tank at Stanford] in the mid-’70s. And here we are, just about the mid-’90s, and it’s kind of commonplace now. But it’s about a 10-to-20-year lag. That’s a long time. The reason for that is, it seems to take a very unique combination of technology, talent, business and marketing and luck to make significant change in our industry. It hasn’t happened that often. The other interesting thing is that, in general, business tends to be the fueling agent for these changes. It’s simply because they have a lot of money. They’re willing to pay money for things that will save them money or give them new capabilities. And that’s a hard one sometimes, because a lot of the people who are the most creative in this business aren’t doing it because they want to help corporate America. A perfect example is the PDA [Personal Digital Assistant] stuff, like Apple’s Newton. I’m not real optimistic about it, and I’ll tell you why. Most of the people who developed these PDAs developed them because they thought individuals were going to buy them and give them to their families. My friends started General Magic [a new company that hopes to challenge the Newton]. They think your kids are going to have these, your grandmother’s going to have one, and you’re going to all send messages. Well, at $1,500 a pop with a cellular modem in them, I don’t think too many people are going to buy three or four for their family. The people who are going to buy them in the first five years are mobile professionals. And the problem is, the psychology of the people who develop these things is just not going to enable them to put on suits and hop on planes and go to Federal Express and pitch their product. To make step-function changes, revolutionary changes, it takes that combination of technical acumen and business and marketing — and a culture that can somehow match up the reason you developed your product and the reason people will want to buy it. I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.

  • Is that the period you’re emerging from now?

    I hope so. I’ve been there before, and I’ve recently been there again.As you know, most of what I’ve done in my career has been software. The Apple II wasn’t much software, but the Mac was just software in a cool box. We had to build the box because the software wouldn’t run on any other box, but nonetheless, it was mainly software. I was involved in PostScript and the formation of Adobe, and that was all software. And what we’ve done with NEXTSTEP is really all software. We tried to sell it in a really cool box, but we learned a very important lesson. When you ask people to go outside of the mainstream, they take a risk. So there has to be some important reward for taking that risk or else they won’t take it What we learned was that the reward can’t be one and a half times better or twice as good. That’s not enough. The reward has to be like three or four or five times better to take the risk to jump out of the mainstream. The problem is, in hardware you can’t build a computer that’s twice as good as anyone else’s anymore. Too many people know how to do it. You’re lucky if you can do one that’s one and a third times better or one and a half times better. And then it’s only six months before everybody else catches up. But you can do it in software. As a matter of fact, I think that the leap that we’ve made is at least five years ahead of anybody.

  • Let’s talk about the evolution of the PC. About 30 percent of American homes have computers. Businesses are wired. Video-game machines are rapidly becoming as powerful as PCs and in the near future will be able to do everything that traditional desktop computers can do. Is the PC revolution over?

    No. Well, I don’t know exactly what you mean by your question, but I think that the PC revolution is far from over. What happened with the Mac was — well, first I should tell you my theory about Microsoft. Microsoft has had two goals in the last 10 years. One was to copy the Mac, and the other was to copy Lotus’ success in the spreadsheet — basically, the applications business. And over the course of the last 10 years, Microsoft accomplished both of those goals. And now they are completely lost. They were able to copy the Mac because the Mac was frozen in time. The Mac didn’t change much for the last 10 years. It changed maybe 10 percent. It was a sitting duck. It’s amazing that it took Microsoft 10 years to copy something that was a sitting duck. Apple, unfortunately, doesn’t deserve too much sympathy. They invested hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into R&D, but very little came out They produced almost no new innovation since the original Mac itself. So now, the original genes of the Macintosh have populated the earth. Ninety percent in the form of Windows, but nevertheless, there are tens of millions of computers that work like that. And that’s great. The question is, what’s next? And what’s going to keep driving this PC revolution? If you look at the goal of the ’80s, it was really individual productivity. And that could be answered with shrink-wrapped applications [off-the-shelf software]. If you look at the goal of the ’90s — well, if you look at the personal computer, it’s going from being a tool of computation to a tool of communication. It’s going from individual productivity to organizational productivity and also operational productivity. What I mean by that is, the market for mainframe and minicomputers is still as large as the PC market And people don’t buy those things to run shrink-wrapped spreadsheets and word processors on. They buy them to run applications that automate the heart of their company. And they don’t buy these applications shrink-wrapped. You can’t go buy an application to run your hospital, to do derivatives commodities trading or to run your phone network. They don’t exist. Or if they do, you have to customize them so much that they’re really custom apps by the time you get through with them.These custom applications really used to just be in the back office — in accounting, manufacturing. But as business is getting much more sophisticated and consumers are expecting more and more, these custom apps have invaded the front office. Now, when a company has a new product, it consists of only three things: an idea, a sales channel and a custom app to implement the product. The company doesn’t implement the product by hand anymore or service it by hand. Without the custom app, it doesn’t have the new product or service. I’ll give you an example. MCI’s Friends and Family is the most successful business promotion done in the last decade — measured in dollars and cents. AT&T did not respond to that for 18 months. It cost them billions of dollars. Why didn’t they? They’re obviously smart guys. They didn’t because they couldn’t create a custom app to run a new billing system.

  • So how does this connect with the next generation of the PC?

    I believe the next generation of the PC is going to be driven by much more advanced software, and it’s going to be driven by custom software for business. Business has focused on shrink-wrapped software on the PCs, and that’s why PCs haven’t really touched the heart of the business. And now they want to bring them into the heart of the business, and everyone is going to have to run custom apps alongside their shrink-wrapped apps because that’s how the enterprise is going to get their competitive advantage in things. For example, McCaw Cellular, the largest cellular provider in the world, runs the whole front end of their business on NEXTSTEP now. They’re giving PCs with custom apps to the phone dealers so that when you buy a cellular phone, it used to take you a day and a half to get you up on the network. Now it takes five minutes. The phone dealer just runs these custom apps, they’re networked back to a server in Seattle, and in a minute and a half, with no human intervention, your phone works on the entire McCaw network. In addition to that, the applications business right now — if you look at even the shrink-wrap business — is contracting dramatically. It now takes 100 to 200 people one to two years just to do a major revision to a word processor or spreadsheet. And so, all the really creative people who like to work in small teams of three, four, five people, they’ve all been squeezed out of that business. As you may know, Windows is the worst development environment ever made. And Microsoft doesn’t have any interest in making it better, because the fact that its really hard to develop apps in Windows plays to Microsoft’s advantage. You can’t have small teams of programmers writing word processors and spreadsheets — it might upset their competitive advantage. And they can afford to have 200 people working on a project, no problem.With our technology, with objects, literally three people in a garage can blow away what 200 people at Microsoft can do. Literally can blow it away. Corporate America has a need that is so huge and can save them so much money, or make them so much money, or cost them so much money if they miss it, that they are going to fuel the object revolution.

  • That may be so. But when people think of Steve Jobs, they think of the man whose mission was to bring technology to the masses — not to corporate America.

    Well, life is always a little more complicated than it appears to be. What drove the success of the Apple II for many years and let consumers have the benefit of that product was Visi-Calc selling into corporate America. Corporate America was buying Apple IIs and running Visi-Calc on them like crazy so that we could get our volumes up and our prices down and sell that as a consumer product on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays while selling it to business on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We were giving away Macintoshes to higher ed while we were selling them for a nice profit to corporate America. So it takes both. What’s going to fuel the object revolution is not the consumer. The consumer is not going to see the benefits until after business sees them and we begin to get this stuff into volume. Because unfortunately, people are not rebelling against Microsoft. They don’t know any better. They’re not sitting around thinking that they have a giant problem that needs to be solved — whereas corporations are. The PC market has done less and less to serve their growing needs. They have a giant need, and they know it. We don’t have to spend money educating them about the problem — they know they have a problem. There’s a giant vacuum sucking us in there, and there’s a lot of money in there to fuel the development of this object industry. And everyone will benefit from thatI visited Xerox PARC in 1979, when I was at Apple. That visit’s been written about — it was a very important visit. I remember being shown their rudimentary graphical-user interface. It was incomplete, some of it wasn’t even right, but the germ of the idea was there. And within 10 minutes, it was so obvious that every computer would work this way someday. You knew it with every bone in your body. Now, you could argue about the number of years it would take, you could argue about who the winners and losers in terms of companies in the industry might be, but I don’t think rational people could argue that every computer would work this way someday. I feel the same way about objects, with every bone in my body. All software will be written using this object technology someday. No question about it. You can argue about how many years it’s going to take, you can argue who the winners and losers are going to be in terms of the companies in this industry, but I don’t think a rational person can argue that all software will not be built this way.

  • Would you explain, in simple terms, exactly what object-oriented software is?

    Objects are like people. They’re living, breathing things that have knowledge inside them about how to do things and have memory inside them so they can remember things. And rather than interacting with them at a very low level, you interact with them at a very high level of abstraction, like we’re doing right here. Here’s an example: If I’m your laundry object, you can give me your dirty clothes and send me a message that says, “Can you get my clothes laundered, please.” I happen to know where the best laundry place in San Francisco is. And I speak English, and I have dollars in my pockets. So I go out and hail a taxicab and tell the driver to take me to this place in San Francisco. I go get your clothes laundered, I jump back in the cab, I get back here. I give you your clean clothes and say, “Here are your clean clothes.”You have no idea how I did that. You have no knowledge of the laundry place. Maybe you speak French, and you can’t even hail a taxi. You can’t pay for one, you don’t have dollars in your pocket. Yet I knew how to do all of that. And you didn’t have to know any of it. All that complexity was hidden inside of me, and we were able to interact at a very high level of abstraction. That’s what objects are. They encapsulate complexity, and the interfaces to that complexity are high level.

  • You brought up Microsoft earlier. How do you feel about the fact that Bill Gates has essentially achieved dominance in the software industry with what amounts to your vision of how personal computers should work?

    I don’t really know what that all means. If you say, well, how do you feel about Bill Gates getting rich off some of the ideas that we had … well, you know, the goal is not to be the richest man in the cemetery. It’s not my goal anyway. The thing I don’t think is good is that I don’t believe Microsoft has transformed itself into an agent for improving things, an agent for coming up with the next revolution. The Japanese, for example, used to be accused of just copying — and indeed, in the beginning, that’s just what they did. But they got quite a bit more sophisticated and started to innovate — look at automobiles, they certainly innovated quite a bit there. I can’t say the same thing about Microsoft. And I become very concerned, because I see Microsoft competing very fiercely and putting a lot of companies out of business — some deservedly so and others not deservedly so. And I see a lot of innovation leaving this industry. What I believe very strongly is that the industry absolutely needs an alternative to Microsoft. And it needs an alternative to Microsoft in the applications area — which I hope will be Lotus. And we also need an alternative to Microsoft in the systems-software area. And the only hope we have for that, in my opinion, is NeXT.

  • Microsoft, of course, is working on their own object-oriented operating system —

    They were working on the Mac for 10 years, too. I’m sure they’re working on it Microsoft’s greatest asset is Windows. Their greatest liability is Windows. Windows is so nonobject-oriented that it’s going to be impossible for them to go back and become object-oriented without throwing Windows away, and they can’t do that for years. So they’re going to try to patch things on top, and it’s not going to work.

  • You’ve called Microsoft the IBM of the ’90s. What exactly do you mean by that?

    They’re the mainstream. And a lot of people who don’t want to think about it too much are just going to buy their product. They have a market dominance now that is so great that it’s actually hurting the industry. I don’t like to get into discussions about whether they accomplished that fairly or not That’s for others to decide. I just observe it and say it’s not healthy for the country.

  • What do you think of the federal antitrust investigation?

    I don’t have enough data to know. And again, the issue is not whether they accomplished what they did within the rule book or by breaking some of the rules. I’m not qualified to say. But I don’t think it matters. I don’t think that’s the real issue. The real issue is, America is leading the world in software technology right now, and that is such a valuable asset for this country that anything that potentially threatens that leadership needs to be examined. I think the Microsoft monopoly of both sectors of the software industry — both the system and the applications software and the potential third sector that they want to monopolize, which is the consumer set-top-box sector — is going to pose the greatest threat to Americas dominance in the software industry of anything I have ever seen and could ever think of. I personally believe that it would be in the best interest of the country to break Microsoft up into three companies — a systems-software company, an applications-software company and a consumer-software company.

  • Hearing you talk like this makes me flash back to the old Apple days, when Apple cast itself in the role of the rebel against the establishment. Except now, instead of IBM, the great evil is Microsoft. And instead of Apple that will save us, it’s NeXT. Do you see parallels here, too?

    Yeah, I do. Forget about me. That’s not important. What’s important is, I see tremendous parallels between the solidity and dominance that IBM had and the shackles that that was imposing on our industry and what Microsoft is doing today…. I think we came closer than we think to losing some of our computer industry in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and I think the gradual dissolution of IBM has been the healthiest thing that’s happened in this industry in the last 10 years.

  • What’s your personal relationship with Bill Gates like?

    I think Bill Gates is a good guy. We’re not best friends, but we talk maybe once a month.

  • A lot has been made of the rivalry between you two. The two golden boys of the computer revolution —

    I think Bill and I have very different value systems. I like Bill very much, and I certainly admire his accomplishments, but the companies we built were very different from each other.

  • A lot of people believe that given the stranglehold Microsoft has on the software business, in the long run, the best NeXT can hope for is that it will be a niche product.

    Apple’s a niche product, the Mac was a niche product And yet look at what it did. Apple’s, what, a $9 billion company. It was $2 billion when I left They’re doing OK. Would I be happy if we had a 10 percent market share of the system-software business? I’d be happy now. I’d be very happy. Then I’d go work like crazy to get 20.

  • You mentioned the Apple earlier. When you look at the company you founded now, what do you think?

    I don’t want to talk about Apple.

  • What about the PowerPC?

    It works fine. It’s a Pentium. The PowerPC and the Pentium are equivalent, plus or minus 10 or 20 percent, depending on which day you measure them. They’re the same thing. So Apple has a Pentium. That’s good. Is it three or four or five times better? No. Will it ever be? No. But it beats being behind. Which was where the Motorola 68000 architecture was unfortunately being relegated. It keeps them at least equal, but it’s not a compelling advantage.

  • You can’t open the paper these days without reading about the Internet and the information superhighway. Where is this all going?

    The Internet is nothing new. It has been happening for 10 years. Finally, now, the wave is cresting on the general computer user. And I love it. I think the den is far more interesting than the living room. Putting the Internet into people’s houses is going to be really what the information superhighway is all about, not digital convergence in the set-top box. All that’s going to do is put the video rental stores out of business and save me a trip to rent my movie. I’m not very excited about that. I’m not excited about home shopping. I’m very excited about having the Internet in my den.

  • Phone companies, cable companies and Hollywood are jumping all over each other trying to get a piece of the action. Who do you think will be the winners and losers, say, five years down the road?

    I’ve talked to some of these guys in the phone and cable business, and believe me, they have no idea what they’re doing here. And the people who are talking the loudest know the least

  • Who are you referring to –John Malone?

    I don’t want to name names. Let me just say that, in general, they have no idea how difficult this is going to be and how long it is going to take. None of these guys understands computer science. They don’t understand that that’s a little computer that they’re going to have in the set-top box, and in order to run that computer, they’re going to have to come up with some very sophisticated software.

  • Let’s talk more about the Internet. Every month, it’s growing by leaps and bounds. How is this new communications web going to affect the way we live in the future?

    I don’t think it’s too good to talk about these kinds of things. You can open up any book and hear all about this kind of garbage.

  • I’m interested in bearing your ideas.

    I don’t think of the world that way. I’m a tool builder. That’s how I think of myself. I want to build really good tools that I know in my gut and my heart will be valuable. And then whatever happens is… you can’t really predict exactly what will happen, but you can feel the direction that we’re going. And that’s about as close as you can get. Then you just stand back and get out of the way, and these things take on a life of their own.

  • Nevertheless, you’ve often talked about how technology can empower people, how it can change their lives. Do you still have as much faith in technology today as you did when you started out 20 years ago?

    Oh, sure. It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them. It’s not the tools that you have faith in — tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not. Yeah, sure, I’m still optimistic I mean, I get pessimistic sometimes but not for long.

  • It’s been 10 years since the PC revolution started. Rational people can debate about whether technology has made the world a better place –

    The world’s clearly a better place. Individuals can now do things that only large groups of people with lots of money could do before. What that means is, we have much more opportunity for people to get to the marketplace — not just the marketplace of commerce but the marketplace of ideas. The marketplace of publications, the marketplace of public policy. You name it. We’ve given individuals and small groups equally powerful tools to what the largest, most heavily funded organizations in the world have. And that trend is going to continue. You can buy for under $10,000 today a computer that is just as powerful, basically, as one anyone in the world can get their hands on. The second thing that we’ve done is the communications side of it. By creating this electronic web, we have flattened out again the difference between the lone voice and the very large organized voice. We have allowed people who are not part of an organization to communicate and pool their interests and thoughts and energies together and start to act as if they were a virtual organization.So I think this technology has been extremely rewarding. And I don’t think it’s anywhere near over.

  • When you were talking about Bill Gates, you said that the goal is not to be the richest guy in the cemetery. What is the goal?

    I don’t know how to answer you. In the broadest context, the goal is to seek enlightenment — however you define it. But these are private things. I don’t want to talk about this kind of stuff.

  • Are you uncomfortable with your status as a celebrity in Silicon Valley?

    I think of it as my well-known twin brother. It’s not me. Because otherwise, you go crazy. You read some negative article some idiot writes about you — you just can’t take it too personally. But then that teaches you not to take the really great ones too personally either. People like symbols, and they write about symbols.

  • I talked to some of the original Mac designers the other day, and they mentioned the 10-year-annniversary celebration of the Mac a few months ago. You didn’t want to participate in that. Has it been a burden, the pressure to repeat the phenomenal success of the Mac? Some people have compared you to Orson Welles, who at 25 did his best work, and it’s all downhill from there.

    I’m very flattered by that, actually. I wonder what game show I’m going to be on. Guess I’m going to have to start eating a lot of pie. [Laughs.] I don’t know. The Macintosh was sort of like this wonderful romance in your life that you once had — and that produced about 10 million children. In a way it will never be over in your life. You’ll still smell that romance every morning when you get up. And when you open the window, the cool air will hit your face, and you’ll smell that romance in the air. And you’ll see your children around, and you feel good about it. And nothing will ever make you feel bad about it. But now, your life has moved on. You get up every morning, and you might remember that romance, but then the whole day is in front of you to do something wonderful withBut I also think that what we’re now may turn out in the end to be more profound. Because the Macintosh was the agent of change to bring computers to the rest of us with its graphical-user interface. That was very important. But now the industry is up against a really big closed door. Objects are going to unlock that door. On the other side is a world so rich from this well of software that will spring up that the true promise of many of the things we started, even with the Apple II, will finally start to be realized. After that … who knows? Maybe there’s another locked door behind this door, too; I don’t know. But someone else is going to have to figure out how to unlock that one.

  • Tell us about yourself.

    I was born in San Francisco, California, USA, planet Earth, February 24, 1955. I can go into a lot of details about my youth, but I don't know that anybody would really care about that too much.

  • Well they might in three hundred years because all this print is going to disintegrate. Tell me a little bit about your parents, your family; what are the earliest things you remember? In 1955, Eisenhower was still President

    I don't remember him but I do remember growing up in the late 50's and early 60's. It was a very interesting time in the United States. America was sort of at its pinnacle of post World War II prosperity and everything had been fairly straight and narrow from haircuts to culture in every way, and it was just starting to broaden into the 60's where things were going to start expanding out in new directions. Everything was still very successful. Very young. America seemed young and naive in many ways to me, from my memories at that time.

  • So you would have been about five or six years old when John Kennedy was assassinated?

    I remember John Kennedy being assassinated. I remember the exact moment that I heard he had been shot.

  • Where were you at the time?

    I was walking across the grass at my schoolyard going home at about three in the afternoon when somebody yelled that the President had been shot and killed. I must have been about seven or eight years old, I guess, and I knew exactly what it meant. I also remember very much the Cuban Missile Crisis. I probably didn't sleep for three or four nights because I was afraid that if I went to sleep I wouldn't wake up. I guess I was seven years old at the time and I understood exactly what was going on. I think everybody did. It was really a terror that I will never forget, and it probably never really left. I think that everyone felt it at that time.

  • It sounds like you were really lucky to have your dad as sort of a mentor. I was going to ask you about school. What was the formal side of your education like? Good? Bad?

    School was pretty hard for me at the beginning. My mother taught me how to read before I got to school and so when I got there I really just wanted to do two things. I wanted to read books because I loved reading books and I wanted to go outside and chase butterflies. You know, do the things that five year olds like to do. I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me. By the time I was in third grade, I had a good buddy of mine, Rick Farentino, and the only way we had fun was to create mischief. I remember we traded everybody. There was a big bike rack where everybody put their bikes, maybe a hundred bikes in this rack, and we traded everybody our lock combinations for theirs on an individual basis and then went out one day and put everybody's lock on everybody else's bike and it took them until about ten o'clock that night to get all the bikes sorted out. We set off explosives in teacher's desks. We got kicked out of school a lot. In fourth grade I encountered one of the other saints of my life. They were going to put Rick Farentino and I into the same fourth grade class, and the principal said at the last minute "No, bad idea. Separate them." So this teacher, Mrs. Hill, said "I'll take one of them." She taught the advanced fourth grade class and thank God I was the random one that got put in the class. She watched me for about two weeks and then approached me. She said, Steven, I'll tell you what. I'll make you a deal. I have this math workbook and if you take it home and finish on your own without any help and you bring it back to me, if you get it 80% right, I will give you five dollars and one of these really big suckers she bought and she held it out in front of me. One of these giant things. And I looked at her like "Are you crazy lady"? Nobody's ever done this before and of course I did it. She basically bribed me back into learning with candy and money and what was really remarkable was before very long I had such a respect for her that it sort of re-ignited my desire to learn. She got me kits for making cameras. I ground my own lens and made a camera. It was really quite wonderful. I think I probably learned more academically in that one year than I learned in my life. It created problems, though, because when I got out of fourth grade they tested me and they decided to put me in high school and my parents said "No.". Thank God. They said "He can skip one grade but that's all."

  • his seems like such a good place to talk about your experience in the fourth grade. Do you think that had a major impact on your own interest in education? I mean if there is anyone in the computer industry that is associated with computers and education it has got to be you and Apple

    I'm sure it did. I'm a very big believer in equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcome. I don't believe in equal outcome because unfortunately life's not like that. It would be a pretty boring place if it was. But I really believe in equal opportunity. Equal opportunity to me more than anything means a great education. Maybe even more important than a great family life, but I don't know how to do that. Nobody knows how to do that. But it pains me because we do know how to provide a great education. We really do. We could make sure that every young child in this country got a great education. We fall far short of that. I know from my own education that if I hadn't encountered two or three individuals that spent extra time with me, I'm sure I would have been in jail. I'm 100% sure that if it hadn't been for Mrs. Hill in fourth grade and a few others, I would have absolutely have ended up in jail. I could see those tendencies in myself to have a certain energy to do something. It could have been directed at doing something interesting that other people thought was a good idea or doing something interesting that maybe other people didn't like so much. When you're young, a little bit of course correction goes a long way. I think it takes pretty talented people to do that. I don't know that enough of them get attracted to go into public education. You can't even support a family on what you get paid. I'd like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for, making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Why should they work at a school for thirty-five to forty thousand dollars if they could get a job here at a hundred thousand dollars a year? Is that an intelligence test? The problem there of course is the unions. The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education because it's not a meritocracy. It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what has happened. The teachers can't teach and administrators run the place and nobody can be fired. It's terrible.

  • Some people say that this new technology may be a way to bypass that. Are you optimistic about that?

    I absolutely don't believe that. As you've pointed out, I've helped with more computers in more schools than anybody else in the world and I absolutely convinced that is by no means the most important thing. The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can. The elements of discovery are all around you. You don't need a computer. Here - why does that fall? You know why? Nobody in the entire world knows why that falls. We can describe it pretty accurately but no one knows why. I don't need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why

  • But you do need a person

    You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they're not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don't need an assistant. I think we have all the material in the world to solve this problem; it's just being deployed in other places. I've been a very strong believer in that what we need to do in education is to go to the full voucher system. I know this isn't what the interview was supposed to be about but it is what I care about a great deal. . . . The market competition model seems to indicate that where there is a need there is a lot of providers willing to tailor their products to fit that need and a lot of competition which forces them to get better and better. I used to think when I was in my twenties that technology was the solution to most of the world's problems, but unfortunately it just ain't so. I'll give you an analogy. Alot of times we think "Why is the television programming so bad? Why are television shows so demeaning, so poor?" The first thought that occurs to you is "Well, there is a conspiracy: the networks are feeding us this slop because its cheap to produce. It's the networks that are controlling this and they are feeding us this stuff." But the truth of the matter, if you study it in any depth, is that networks absolutely want to give people what they want so that will watch the shows. If people wanted something different, they would get it. And the truth of the matter is that the shows that are on television, are on television because that's what people want. The majority of people in this country want to turn on a television and turn off their brain and that's what they get. And that's far more depressing than a conspiracy. Conspiracies are much more fun than the truth of the matter, which is that the vast majority of the public are pretty mindless most of the time. I think the school situation has a parallel here when it comes to technology. It is so much more hopeful to think that technology can solve the problems that are more human and more organizational and more political in nature, and it ain't so. We need to attack these things at the root, which is people and how much freedom we give people, the competition that will attract the best people. Unfortunately, there are side effects, like pushing out a lot of 46 year old teachers who lost their spirit fifteen years ago and shouldn't be teaching anymore. I feel very strongly about this. I wish it was as simple as giving it over to the computer.

  • I'm really glad we had a chance to talk about it. To talk about other things, so much has been written about you rather than go over a lot of those stories I was going to ask which one you think is the best and the fairest and if there are aspects of your career that you think have been left out.

    I have to tell you truly that I'm pretty ignorant about it because I haven't read any of them. I skimmed one one time and read the first ten pages and they got my birthday wrong by a year. If they can't even get this right then this is probably not worth reading. I don't even remember the name of the one I skimmed. I always considered part of my job was to keep the quality level of people in the organizations I work with very high. That's what I consider one of the few things I actually can contribute individually -- to to really try to instill in the organization the goal of only having 'A' players. Because in this field, like in a lot of fields, the difference between the worst taxi cab driver and the best taxi cab driver to get you crosstown Manhattan might be two to one. The best one will get you there in fifteen minutes, the worst one will get you there in a half an hour. Or the best cook and the worst cook, maybe it's three to one. Pick something like that. In the field that I'm in the difference between the best person and the worst person is about a hundred to one or more. The difference between a good software person and a great software person is fifty to one, twenty-five to fifty to one, huge dynamic range. Therefore, I have found, not just in software, but in everything I've done it really pays to go after the best people in the world. It's painful when you have some people who are not the best people in the world and you have to get rid of them; but I found that my job has sometimes exactly been that: to get rid of some people who didn't measure up. And I've always tried to do it in a humane way. But nonetheless it has to be done and it is never fun.

  • Is that the hardest and the most painful part of managing a company from your point of view?

    Oh sure. Of course. At times I've been pretty hard about it and a lot of times people haven't wanted to leave and I haven't given them any choices. If somebody wanted to write a book about me, most of my friends would never talk to them but they could go find the handful of a few dozen people that I fired in my life who hate my guts. It was certainly the case in the one book I skimmed. I mean it was just "let's throw the darts at Steve." Such is life. That's the world I've chosen to live in. If I didn't like that part of it enough, I'd escape and I haven't, so I'm willing to put up with that. But I certainly didn't find it very accurate

  • I've got a couple of questions I'd like to ask you about specifically about your experience at Apple. Looking back at the years you were there, what were the accomplishments you are most proud of? Are there a couple of Apple stories you really like to tell?

    Apple was this incredible journey. I mean we did some amazing things there. The thing that bound us together at Apple was the ability to make things that were going to change the world. That was very important. We were all pretty young. The average age in the company was mid to late twenties. Hardly anybody had families at the beginning and we all worked like maniacs, and the greatest joy was that we felt we were fashioning collective works of art much like twentieth century physics. Something important that would last, that people contributed to and then could give to more people; the amplification factor was very large.

  • You used an interesting word in describing what you were doing. You were talking about art not engineering, not science. Tell me about that

    I think there's actually very little distinction between an artist and a scientist or engineer of the highest calibre. I've never had a distinction in my mind between those two types of people. They've just been to me people who pursue different paths but basically kind of headed to the same goal which is to express something of what they perceive to be the truth around them so that others can benefit by it.

  • And the artistry is in the elegance of the solution, like chess playing or mathematics?

    No. I think the artistry is in having an insight into what one sees around them. Generally putting things together in a way no one else has before and finding a way to express that to other people who don't have that insight so they can get some of the advantage of that insight that makes them feel a certain way or allows them to do a certain thing. I think that a lot of the folks on the Macintosh team were capable of doing that and did exactly that. If you study these people a little bit more what you'll find is that in this particular time, in the 70's and the 80's the best people in computers would have normally been poets and writers and musicians. Almost all of them were musicians. A lot of them were poets on the side. They went into computers because it was so compelling. It was fresh and new. It was a new medium of expression for their creative talents. The feelings and the passion that people put into it were completely indistinguishable from a poet or a painter. Many of the people were introspective, inward people who expressed how they felt about other people or the rest of humanity in general into their work, work that other people would use. People put a lot of love into these products, and a lot of expression of their appreciation came to these things. It's hard to explain.

  • It's passion in the truest sense of the word

    The computer industry is at a very critical juncture where those people are clearly leaving the field.

  • What are they doing?

    Hard to say. They're not being attracted by something else. They're being driven out of the computer business. They're being driven out because the computer business is becoming a monopoly with Microsoft. Without getting into whether Microsoft gained its position legally or not -- who cares? The end product of the position is that the ability to innovate in the industry is being sucked dry. I think the smartest people have already seen the writing on the wall. I think some of the smartest young people are questioning whether they'll really get in it.

  • Apple had a reputation as a company that absolutely broke the mold and set its own course. Looking back from where you are today with NeXT, do you think that, as Apple grew larger, it could have sustained that original approach? Or was it destined to become a big standard American company?

    That's a funny question. Apple did grow big and sustain that approach. When I left Apple it was a two billion dollar company. We were Fortune 300 and something. We were 350. When the Mac was introduced we were a billion-dollar corporation; so Apple grew from nothing to two billion dollars while I was there. That's a pretty high growth rate. It grew five times since I left basically on the back of the Macintosh. I think what's happened since I left in terms of growth rate has been trivial compared with what it was like when I was there. What ruined Apple wasn't growth. What ruined Apple was values. John Sculley ruined Apple and he ruined it by bringing a set of values to the top of Apple which were corrupt and corrupted some of the top people who were there, drove out some of the ones who were not corruptible, and brought in more corrupt ones and paid themselves collectively tens of millions of dollars and cared more about their own glory and wealth than they did about what built Apple in the first place -- which was making great computers for people to use. They didn't care about that anymore. They didn't have a clue about how to do it and they didn't take any time to find out because that's not what they cared about. They cared about making a lot of money. So they had this wonderful thing that a lot of brilliant people made called the Macintosh and they got very greedy. And instead of following the original trajectory of the original vision -- which was to make this thing an appliance, to get this out there to as many people as possible -- they went for profits and they made outlandish profits for about four years. Apple was one of the most profitable companies in America for about four years. What that cost them was the future. What they should have been doing was making reasonable profits and going for market share, which was what we always tried to do. Macintosh would have had a 33% market share right now, maybe even higher, maybe it would have even been Microsoft, but we'll never know. Now it's got a single-digit market share and falling. There's no way to ever get that moment in time back. The Macintosh will die in another few years and it's really sad. The problem is this: No one at Apple has a clue as to how to create the next Macintosh because no one running any part of Apple was there when the Macintosh was made -- or any other product at Apple. They've just been living off that one thing now for over a decade and the last attempt was the Newton and you know what happened to that. It's kind of tragic, but as unemotionally as I can be, that's what's happening. Unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat, companies tend to have long glide slopes because of the installed bases. But Apple is just gliding down this slope and they're losing market share every year. Things start to spiral down once you get under a certain threshold. And when developers no longer write applications for your computer, that's when it really starts to fall apart.

  • There's obviously a lot of emotional attachment to Apple.

    Oh sure. Apple could have lived forever and kept shipping great products forever. Apple was for awhile like Sony. It was the place that made the coolest stuff

  • Is there a user of Apple or a story that you could tell that in your mind exemplifies what the company stood for and its values at its best? What customers were using the Apple when you were there?

    There were two kinds of customers. There were the educational aspects of Apple and then there were sort of the non-educational. On the non-educational side, Apple was two things. One, it was the first "lifestyle" computer and, secondly, it's hard to remember how bad it was in the early 1980's. With IBM taking over the world with the PC, with DOS out there; it was far worse than the Apple II. They tried to copy the Apple II and they had done a pretty bad job. You needed to know a lot. Things were kind of slipping backwards. You saw the 1984 commercial. Macintosh was basically this relatively small company in Cupertino, California, taking on the goliath, IBM, and saying "Wait a minute, your way is wrong. This is not the way we want computers to go. This is not the legacy we want to leave. This is not what we want our kids to be learning. This is wrong and we are going to show you the right way to do it and here it is. It's called Macintosh and it is so much better. It's going to beat you and you're going to do it." And that's what Apple stood for. That was one of the things

  • On the business side, I was at the Washington Post when the Macintosh was introduced. The Post was an IBM Big Blue Shop and nobody was going to play with it and then the Macintosh infiltrated. There was almost a guerilla movement. It started with ad artists and now the whole front end of the newspaper is being done on Apple machines. Was that fairly common, this guerilla movement?

    Actually we had no concept of how to sell to corporate America because none of us had come from there. It was like another planet to us. Unfortunately I had to learn all that stuff. If I only knew [then] what I know now we could have done a lot better. Our attempts to sell to corporate America were just bungled and we ended up just selling to people who just [were] sort of buying a product for its merit not because of the company it came from. I mean everybody was very hooked on Big Blue back then and they bought IBM. There was that famous phrase "You never get fired for buying IBM." We fortunately were able to change a lot of that. And Apple, as you know, I believe, is a bigger supplier of personal computers than IBM.

  • Tell me about what motivated you to establish NeXT and what were the goals you set out to accomplish when you set-up this new company?

    That's complicated. We basically wanted to keep doing what we were doing at Apple, to keep innovating. But we made a mistake, which was to try to follow the same formula we did at Apple, to make the whole widget. But the market was changing. The industry was changing. The scale was changing. And in the end we knew we would be either the last company to make it or the first to not make it. We were right on the edge. We thought we would be the last one that made it, but we were wrong. We were the first one that didn't. We put an end to the companies that tried to do that. We certainly made our fair share of mistakes, but in the end I think we should have taken a bit longer to realize the world was changing and just gone on to be a software company right off the bat.

  • Right off the bat? The machine got great reviews when it came out.

    The machine was the best machine in the world. Believe it or not, they're selling on the used market, in some cases, for more than we sold them for originally. They're hard to find even today. We haven't even made them for two, two and a half years.

  • What are the features that are on the NeXT machine that are still missing from machines today?

    Well first of all it, was a totally 'plug-and-play' machine. Except for Macintosh, that's hard to find. It's an extremely powerful machine, way beyond the Macintosh. So it sort of nicely combined the power of the workstations with the 'plug and playness' of the Mac. Second of all, the machine had a fit and finish that you don't find today.

  • What makes it different? What trends does it respond to?

    That's the real gem. I'll tell you an interesting story. When I was at Apple, a few of my acquaintances said "You really need to go over to Xerox PARC (which was Palo Alto Research Center) and see what they've got going over there." They didn't usually let too many people in but I was able to get in there and see what they were doing. I saw their early computer called the Alto, which was a phenomenal computer, and they actually showed me three things there that they had working in 1976. I saw them in 1979. Things that took really until a few years ago for us to fully re-create, for the industry to fully re-create in this case with NeXTStep. However, I didn't see all three of those things. I only saw the first one, which was so incredible to me that it saturated me. It blinded me to see the other two. It took me years to re-create them and rediscover them and incorporate them back into the model, but they were very far ahead in their thinking. They didn't have it totally right, but they had the germ of the idea of all three things. And the three things were graphical user interfaces, object oriented computing and networking. Let me go through those. Graphical interface: The Alto had the world's first graphical user interface. It had windows. It had a crude menu system. It had crude panels and stuff. It didn't work right but it basically was all there. Objects: They had Smalltalk running, which was really the first object-oriented language. Simula was really the first, but Smalltalk was the first official object-oriented language. Third, networking: They invented Ethernet there, as you know. And they had about two hundred Altos with servers hooked up in a local area network there doing email and everything else over the network, all in 1979. I was so blown away with the potential of the germ of that graphical user interface that I saw that I didn't even assimilate or even stick around to investigate fully the other two. NeXTStep turned some of that vision into reality. It incorporated the world's first truly commercial object-oriented system, and really was the most networked system in the world when it came out. I think the world has made a lot of progress in networking but hasn't yet crossed the hurdle into objects and what's happened with NeXTStep. It's starting to get adopted by some very large corporate customers. It is now the most popular object-oriented system in the world, as objects are on the threshold of starting to move into the mainstream. The company last year recorded its first profit in its nine-year history, and sold $50 million worth of software. I think we're going to have some significant growth this year and it's fairly clear that NeXT can get up to being a few-hundred-million-dollar software company in the next three or four years and be the largest company offering objects -- until Microsoft comes into the market at some point, probably with a pretty half-baked product.

  • Some people say that in the future object-oriented software is going to be the only kind of software

    Of course it's true. I remember being at Xerox at 1979. It was one of those sort of apocalyptic moments. I remember within ten minutes of seeing the graphical user interface stuff, just knowing that every computer would work this way some day; it was so obvious once you saw it. It didn't require tremendous intellect. It was so clear. The minute you understand objects, it's all exactly the same. All software will be written using object-oriented technology some day. You can argue about how long its going to take, who the winners and losers are going to be, but I don't think a rational person will debate its significance.

  • Give me your thoughts on the current status and the future of the Internet and the commercial online services and how they're affecting computer development.

    The Internet and the World Wide Web are clearly the most exciting thing going on in computing today. They're exciting for three or four reasons. Number one, ultimately computers are turning into communications devices and ultimately we're spending more and more of the cycles of the computer to not only make it easy to use but to make it easy to communicate. The Web is the missing piece of the puzzle which is really going to power that vision much farther forward. It's very exciting in that way. Secondly, it's very exciting because it is going to destroy vast layers of our economy and make available a presence in the marketplace for very small companies, one that is equal to very large companies. Let me give you an example. A small three-person company in Phoenix, Arizona can have a Web server that looks identical if not better than IBM's or the Gap's or anybody else, any large company. They can gain access to this electronic distribution channel for free. They don't have to build buildings. They don't have to sign up a thousand distributors and have people to call on them, etc., etc. In essence, direct distribution from the manufacturer to the customer via the Internet, via the Web, direct contact, direct transactions and distribution via UPS or Federal Express -- that's going to be cheaper than going through all these middlemen or building hundreds of stores around the country. It is going radically change the way goods and services are discovered, sold and delivered, not only in this country but eventually all over the world. As you know, electrons travel at the speed of light and so it tends to bring the world much closer together in terms of providers and customers. That's pretty exciting. The levelling of big and small. The levelling of near and distant. The third reason it's very exciting is that Microsoft doesn't own it and I don't think they can. It's the one thing in the industry that Microsoft can probably never own. I think one of the things that's essential is that the government continue to fund the Internet as a public trust, as a public facility and remove any of these ridiculous notions of privatizing it that have been brought up. I don't think they're going to fly, thankfully. The Internet cost the U.S. Federal Government about fifty to seventy-five million a year. This is peanuts for what its doing right now and even if that cost someday escalated to half a billion a year, which of course you could build the whole Internet each year from scratch if you had to, you could replace all the equipment, etc. That would be an extrodinarily small price to pay for keeping it from getting into the hands of any one company and thereby starting to destroy and control the innovation that could take place around the Internet. It's the one last bright spot of hope in the computer industry for some serious innovation to happen at a rapid pace. What's also great about it, again, is that the U.S. in the forefront here. That's what's great about the whole personal computer software industry. This is another example where the U.S. is in the forefront. It should be kept open. It should be kept free.

  • The World Wide Web is literally becoming a global phenomenon. Are you optimistic about it staying free?

    Yes, I am optimistic about it staying free but before you say it's global too fast, it's estimated that over one-third of the total Internet traffic in the world originates or destines in California. So I actually think this is a pretty typical case where California is again on the leading edge not only in a technical but cultural shift. So I do expect the Web to be a worldwide phenomenon, distributed fairly broadly. But right now I think it's a U.S. phenomenon that's moving to be global, and one which is very concentrated in certain pockets, such as California

  • 85% of the world doesn't have access to a telephone yet. The potential is there and you're pretty optimistic. Tell me about Pixar.

    This story is very interesting. I got hooked up with some folks. Again a friend of mine told me I should go visit these crazy guys up in San Rafael, California who were working at Lucasfilm. Now George Lucas, who produced the Star Wars film trilogy, was a smart guy, and at one point when he had a lot of money coming in from these films he realized that he ought to start a technology group. He had a few problems he wanted to solve. I'll give you an example of one. When you make a copy of analog audio recording, like tape cassette to another tape cassette, you pick up noise artifacts, in this case hiss. If you make a second-generation copy it gets worse exponentially. The same is true of optical analog copies. You take a piece of film, make an optical copy, you pick up noise artifacts, in this case optical noise which comes across as blurriness in some cases, comes across as other noise artifacts in other cases. Now George, to make Star Wars, actually had to composite together up to thirteen pieces of film for each frame. The matt paintings for the backgrounds might be a few pieces of film, the models might be a few pieces of film, the live action might be a few pieces of film, some special effects might be a few pieces of film. And every time he'd make a copy to composite two together and then add a third, then add a fourth, he was adding noise artifacts with each generation. If you go buy a laser disk of any of the Star Wars Films, if you stop it on some of the frames, they are really grungy. Incredibly noisy, very bad quality. George being the perfectionist he was, said "I'd like to do it perfectly," do it digitally; and nobody had ever done that before. He hired some very smart people and they figured out how to do it for him, digitally with no noise artifacts. They developed software and actually built some specialized hardware at the time. George had at some point decided that this is costing him several million dollars a year and decided that he didn't want to fund it anymore, so I bought this group from George Lucas and I incorporated it as Pixar and we set about revolutionizing high-end computer graphics. If you look at the ten most important revolutions in high-end graphics, in the last ten years, eight of them have come out of Pixar. All of the software that was used to make Terminator, for example -- to actually construct the images that you saw on the screen -- or Jurassic Park with all the dinosaurs, was Pixar Software. Industrial Light and Magic uses it as the base for all of their stuff. But Pixar had another vision. Pixar's vision was to tell stories. To make real films. Our vision was to make the world's first animated feature film -- completely computer synthetic, sets, characters, everything. After ten years, we have done exactly that. We have developed tools, all proprietary, to do this, to manage the production of this thing as well as the drawing of this thing, computer synthetic drawing. We are finishing up making the world's first computer animated feature film. Pixar has written it, directed it, producing it. The Walt Disney Corporation is distributing it and it's coming out this year as Walt Disney's Christmas Picture. It's coming out November 11, I believe, and it's called "Toy Story." You will hear a lot about it because I think its going to be the most successful film of this year.

  • As I look around the facility here and your literature, there are alliances written all over the walls literally. You're aligned with Hewlett-Packard, Sun, Oracle and Digital and all the systems integrators. Communications companies and information technology companies are merging. And becoming one. Do you think it will ever be possible for a new major start-up company to develop if they're going to focus on major applications or software? Will there ever be another?

    I think yes. One might sometimes say in despair no, but I think yes. And the reason is because human minds settle into fixed ways of looking at the world and that's always been true and it's probably always going to be true. I've always felt that death is the greatest invention of life. I've always felt that death is the greatest invention of life. I'm sure that life evolved without death at first and found that without death, life didn't work very well because it didn't make room for the young. It didn't know how the world was fifty years ago. It didn't know how the world was twenty years ago. It saw it as it is today, without any preconceptions, and dreamed how it could be based on that. We're not satisfied based on the accomplishment of the last thirty years. We're dissatisfied because the current state didn't live up to their ideals. Without death there would be very little progress. One of the things that happens in organizations as well as with people is that they settle into ways of looking at the world and become satisfied with things and the world changes and keeps evolving and new potential arises but these people who are settled in don't see it. That's what gives start-up companies their greatest advantage. The sedentary point of view is that of most large companies. In addition to that, large companies do not usually have efficient communication paths from the people closest to some of these changes at the bottom of the company to the top of the company which are the people making the big decisions. There may be people at lower levels of the company that see these changes coming but by the time the word ripples up to the highest levels where they can do something about it, it sometimes takes ten years. Even in the case where part of the company does the right thing at the lower levels, usually the upper levels screw it up somehow. I mean IBM and the personal computer business is a good example of that. I think as long as humans don't solve this human nature trait of sort of settling into a world view after a while, there will always be opportunity for young companies, young people to innovate. As it should be.

  • And that was going to be my closing question before I gave you chance to sort of free associate on your own. That is to talk to young people who sort of look to you as a role model. Opportunities for innovation you think they're still possible. What are the factors of success for young people today? What should they avoid?

    I get asked this a lot and I have a pretty standard answer which is, a lot of people come to me and say "I want to be an entrepreneur." And I go "Oh that's great, what's your idea?"And they say "I don't have one yet." And I say "I think you should go get a job as a busboy or something until you find something you're really passionate about because it's a lot of work." I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don't blame them. It's really tough and it consumes your life. If you've got a family and you're in the early days of a company, I can't imagine how one could do it. I'm sure it's been done but it's rough. It's pretty much an eighteen hour day job, seven days a week for awhile. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're not going to survive. You're going to give it up. So you've got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you're passionate about, otherwise you're not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that's half the battle right there.

  • Your talking made me think of the other side of that. You talk about the passion side. What would you say, there's passion and then there's power. What you would say about the responsibilities of power, once you've achieved a certain level of success?

    Power? What is that?

  • Power? What is that? You need passion to build a company like Apple or IBM or any other major company. Once you've taken the passion to that level and built a company and are in the position like a Bill Gates at Microsoft or anybody else, yourself, what are the responsibilities of those who have succeeded and have economic power, social power? I mean, you've changed the world. What are your responsibilities within that?

    That question can be taken on many levels. Obviously if you're running a company you have responsibilities but as an individual I don't think you have responsibilities. I think the work speaks for itself. I don't think that people have special responsibilities just because they've done something that other people like or don't like. I think the work speaks for itself. I think people could choose to do things if they want to but we're all going to be dead soon, that's my point of view. Somebody once told me, they said "Live each day as if it would be your last and one day you'll certainly be right." I do that. You never know when you're going to go but you are going to go pretty soon. If you're going to leave anything behind it's going to be your kids, a few friends and your work. So that's what I tend to worry about. I don't tend to think about responsibility. A matter of fact I tend to like to on occasion pretend I don't have any responsibilities. I try to remember the last day when I didn't have anything to do and didn't have anything to do the following day that I had to do and I had no responsibilities. It was decades ago. I pretend when I want to feel that way. I don't think in those terms. I think you have a responsibility to do really good stuff and get it out there for people to use and let them build on the shoulders of it and keep making better stuff.

  • So the responsibility is to yourself and your own standards.

    In our business, one person can't do anything anymore. You create a team of people around you. You have a responsibility of integrity of work to that team. Everybody does try to turn out the best work that they can.

  • Any final comments or thoughts either for the record or off the record?

    No. Not really. Timeframe's an interesting thing when you think about people looking back. I do think when people look back on this in a hundred years, they're going to see this as a remarkable time in history. And especially this area believe it or not. When you think of the innovation that's come out of this area, Silicon Valley and the whole San Francisco Berkeley Bay area, you've got the invention of the integrated circuit, the invention of the microprocessor, the invention of semiconductor memory, the invention of the modern hard disk drive, the invention of the modern floppy disk drive, the invention of the personal computer, invention of genetic engineering, the invention of object-oriented technology, the invention of graphical user interfaces at PARC, followed by Apple, the invention of networking. All that happened in this Bay area. It's incredible.

  • Why do you think it happened? Why here?

    Two or three reasons. You have to go back a little [in] history. I mean this is where the beatnik happened in San Francisco. It's a pretty interesting thing. This is where the hippy movement happened. This is the only place in America where Rock 'n Roll really happened. Right? Most of the bands in this country, Bob Dylan in the 60's, I mean they all came out of here. I think of Joan Baez to Jefferson Airplane to the Grateful Dead. Everything came out of here, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, everybody. Why is that? You've also had Stanford and Berkeley, two awesome universities drawing smart people from all over the world and depositing them in this clean, sunny, nice place where there's a whole bunch of other smart people and pretty good food. And at times a lot of drugs and all of that. So they stayed. There's a lot of human capital pouring in. Really smart people. People seem pretty bright here relative to the rest of the country. People seem pretty open-minded here relative to the rest of the country. I think it's just a very unique place and its got a track record to prove it and that tends to attract more people. I give a lot of credit to the universities, probably the most credit of anything to Stanford and Berkeley, UC California.

  • Well, I cannot tell you how much we appreciate this.

    Sure, I hope its helpful.

  • Well, I cannot tell you how much we appreciate this.

    Sure, I hope its helpful.

  • What roles are computer gonna play in our life?

  • We are becoming controlled by computers.Any danger of that happening?

  • What you talking about bi cycle of the 20th century?

  • Do you see any inherent possibility of any bad coming out of it?

  • it's a it's actually something quite democratic all right but I mean the government and I think mr. Burnham was leading us in this direction the the government has the capacity by using computers to get all kinds of information on us that we're really not even aware that they had isn't that dangerous?

  • Why you think each has contributed to the computer business?