By early 1982, the Macintosh was beginning to be acknowledged as a significant project within Apple, instead of a quirky research effort, but it still remained somewhat controversial. Since the Mac was sort of like a Lisa that was priced like an Apple II, it was seen as potential competition from both groups. Also, our leader Steve Jobs had a habit of constantly boasting about the superiority of the Mac team, which tended to alienate everybody else.
Larry Tesler, who came to Apple from Xerox PARC in the summer of 1980, was the manager of the Lisa Application Software team. He understood and appreciated the potential of the Macintosh and was very supportive of the project. He was concerned that some of the Lisa team didn't share his enthusiasm, and thought that it would be helpful for us to demonstrate the Mac to his team and talk about our plans with them. He arranged for Burrell Smith and me to give a demo during a lunch-time meeting.
By this point, we had stand-alone Macintosh prototypes that no longer depended on an umbilical cord to a hosting Lisa. We didn't have the real plastic cases yet, but we were able to house the prototypes in plastic boxes of around the same size that were a passable imitation. The demo software environment was based on the "Lisa Monitor", a simple operating system cooked up by one of the main Lisa architects, Rich Page, that I got running on the Macintosh. The monitor was based on the UCSD Pascal system Filer and offered a simple, menu-based UI. We were able to boot the Mac into the monitor from an Apple II floppy, and then use it to launch various demo programs.
Burrell and I set up the prototype in a large conference room in the Lisa building. The Lisa applications team was seated around the table, but quite a few other Lisa team members had also gathered around, standing room only, perhaps twenty-five people in all. Larry Tesler gave us a nice introduction, and then we booted up the prototype and started to run through various demos while explaining the capabilities of the machine. Everything seemed to be going well, when suddenly there was a loud, insistent knock at the conference room door.
Before anyone could respond, the door was flung open, and in strode Rich Page, the systems wizard who was one of the main designers of the Lisa. Rich was a tall, bearded, ursine engineer, equally adept at hardware and software, who was responsible for getting Lisa to use the 68000, and had personally ported or created many of the tools that both the Macintosh and Lisa teams were using. But I had never seen him looking as angry as he was at the moment.
"You guys don't know what you're doing!", he began to growl, obviously in an emotional state of mind, "The Macintosh is going to destroy the Lisa! The Macintosh is going to ruin Apple!!!"
Burrell and I didn't know how to respond, and neither did anyone else in the room. Larry Tesler gave me an embarrassed glance, trying to figure out what to do. But Rich wasn't particularly interested in a response, he just wanted to vent his frustration.
"Steve Jobs wants to destroy Lisa because we wouldn't let him control it", Rich continued, almost looking like he was going to start crying. "Sure, it's easy to throw a prototype together, but it's hard to ship a real product. You guys don't understand what you're getting into. The Mac can't run Lisa software, the Lisa can't run Mac software. You don't even care. Nobody's going to buy a Lisa because they know the Mac is coming! But you don't care!"
With that, he turned around and strode out of the conference room, as quickly as he had come in. He slammed the door as he left, with the noise reverberating ominously in the stunned silence. There was some nervous laughter, but nobody knew what to say. Larry Tesler started to apologize, explaining that Rich didn't speak for most of the Lisa team, when suddenly the door was flung open again and Rich Page was back, just as angry as before.
"And another thing...", he said, before pausing to look directly at Burrell and myself. "I don't have any problem with you, I know it's not your fault. Steve Jobs is the problem. Tell Steve that I think that he's destroying Apple!" Once again, he turned around and left abruptly, slamming the door for a second time. We steeled our ourselves, wondering if he was going to return for a third round.
But this time, Larry was able to finish apologizing, and then we finished the demo quickly and held a brief question and answer session, with everyone still a bit shell-shocked from the unexpected outburst. We told Steve Jobs about Rich Page's oration later that afternoon, and he just shrugged, "That's Rich Page for you. He'll get over it."
The next morning Bill Atkinson called and told me that Rich Page felt bad about what happened and he wanted to take Burrell and me out to lunch to apologize. So that afternoon, the four of us went out for a long lunch, where Bill explained that Rich was just trying to do what he thought was right, and he didn't intend to get so emotional. Rich told us that he really appreciates that Burrell and I were doing great work for the company, but he was frustrated that Steve was such a loose cannon, and wasn't working for our mutual success. We left on decent terms, but in the back of my mind I was still worried that such obvious resentment would be a problem for us in the future.