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Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Date: March 1982
Characters: Steve Jobs, Andy Hertzfeld, Burrell Smith, Angeline Lo
Topics: Management, Personality
Summary: We interview candidates for software manager

When Bud told us in early December of 1981 that he had to leave the Mac team to go back to Seattle to keep his place in medical school, both Burrell and I were pretty shaken. We were worried that we couldn't pull it off without Bud and that we'd get some authoritarian manager instead, who would wreck the unique spirit of our team. We expressed our concerns to Steve, who promised us that we'd have a big say in hiring the new manager, and that he would personally protect us if a situation like the one we were fearing ever arose.



In January, we began interviewing candidates for the software manager position. We had high standards and expectations and interviewed a number of outstanding people, like Ed Taft (who became one of the first employees at Adobe) and Tim Mott (who helped start Electronic Arts), who for one reason or another didn't take the job. But we also interviewed some more mundane candidates, which could sometimes get pretty wild if Steve decided he didn't respect someone.

For example, Burrell, Steve and I interviewed Angeline Lo's former manager, whom she highly recommended. As soon as the guy walked into the room, I knew it was going to be problematic, because he seemed extremely straight-laced and uptight, dressing more like an insurance salesman than a technologist. He also seemed very nervous as he fumbled at our first few questions.

I could tell that Steve was losing patience when he started to roll his eyes at the candidate's responses. Steve began to grill him with some unconventional questions.

"How old were you when you lost your virginity?", Steve asked

The candidate wasn't sure if he heard correctly. "What did you say?"

Steve repeated the question, changing it slightly. "Are you a virgin?". Burrell and I started to laugh, as the candidate became more disconcerted. He didn't know how to respond.

Steve changed the subject. "How many times have you taken LSD?"

The poor guy was turning varying shades of red, so I tried to change the subject and asked a straight-forward technical question. But when he started to give a long-winded response, Steve got impatient again.

"Gooble, gobble, gobble, gobble", Steve started making turkey noises. This was too much for Burrell and myself, and we all started cracking up. "Gobble, gobble, gobble", Steve continued, laughing himself now.

At this point, the candidate stood up. "I guess I'm not the right guy for this job", he said.

"I guess you're not", Steve responded. "I think this interview is over."

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20 Comments     
Wasn't there a scene in Pirates Of Silicon Valley based on a variation of this story?
I think that to gang up and humiliate someone on one's own turf is a pretty nasty and immature thing to do. Nobody deserves this. But you guys were young and not that wise, I guess...
This story doesn't really reflect all that well on any of you, but Jobs is clearly an ass here. And a bullying one, at that. There was no need to ridicule the poor fellow, except Jobs need to entertain himself at someone else's expense. (I hate mean people. I hope Jobs is not still like that.)
Any relation to the discordian tradition? http://www.principiadiscordia.com/book/71.php
As a software developer myself, this is agravating to read. While I would expect something like this from Steve Jobs, I find this VERY unprofessional from the likes of Andy and Burrell (who's name inspires a miriad of geek-dom mockery to say the least). For any of the three to do this, only shows why Microsoft is truly (in my oppinion) the better company. For a company that tries to be "inclusive" about the type of people it encourages to buy their products, this is a very disappointing turn of story that shows what a bunch of arrogant and snobish elitests actually worked for Apple at the time. My anger has boiled over so much, it is hard not to only hope bad things for Burrell, Steve and even you Andy.
I'm not very happy with humilliation episodies, but the idea here is to avoid the "IBM style" (too formal and bureaucratic, I mean). No suites, no ties, no "incredible degrees and academic diplomas", only computer love, only entusiasm. I see the Mac team like a some kind of hacker team. This candidat wouldn't work fine with them. Of course, there is no reason to humilliate him, but in any case he wouldn't work at Apple (at least not in the Macintosh team). PS: I'm a software developer too
You know, everytime I think about buying any product from Apple (my company gets a 17% discount from Apple), I just think of this story. Why would I want to buy any product from a company whose boss obviously (to me) has no character or personal control.
This is a hilarious story. The fact that Steve decided to use a turkey noise to squelch the puffed up ramblings of a perspective employee makes me laugh. One comment above said: "My anger has boiled over so much, it is hard not to only hope bad things for Burrell, Steve and even you Andy." "Microsoft is truly (in my oppinion) the better company" What? Ha ha! This was like 25 years ago, and people's anger is still "boilling over?" And you base your opinion of corporate favoritism on this? Gobble, gobble, gobble!
What a jerk.
Yes, what a jerk
I'd love to track this guy down (Angeline Lo's manager), to hear his life story, as well as how far he got in life since then. It'd be sad if he commit suicide because of it, or had to seek extensive psychological help.
Jobs is clearly performing the Turkey Curse from Principia Discordia. Here's a description: http://jubal.westnet.com/hyperdiscordia/turkey_curse.html
Something can be wrong and funny at the same time, and laughter is a natural reaction to humorous (and awkward) situations such as this. Sure, Steve's behavior was unprofessional, but Andy and Burrell were simply caught in the middle of it and obviously their laughter became impossible to contain.
Techies are a different breed! I can't help but laugh at this story, and I'm a female software engineer with 20 years of experience. If an interviewer asked me those questions, I think I'd assume it was a joke, so maybe Steve wanted to see if this guy had a sense of humor. Would the interview have gone differently if the guy had laughed too?
How old was Jobs at that point ? 27 ? 28 ? I think we should let this go - typical arrogance that will surface on young blood if you think ,you are kind of top on the world..
In Memoriam, Steve Jobs, 1955-2011, we will miss you happily. ...... and please don't come back ..........
Long before Apple, Steve Jobs cheated Woz while he was working for Atari. He asked Woz to design a Breakout video game for Atari for $700 split for half. Then he delayed payment for a period of time. In 1984, by accident, Woz finally learned that Atari actually paid $5000 to Steve Jobs and he cried. Steve Jobs was an equal opportunity abuser and parasite. If you're useful, he uses you. If you're useless, he abuses you. That's all.
It was not about age and power. We all abuse someone sometimes. It's a totally different matter to use a friend. I can't imagine anyone other than Steve Jobs to cheat his/her best friend like a daily routine.
www.nrc-iol.org/cores/ccnlab/publications/levenson_etal.pdf Interesting reading on this subject of going for one's goal at the expense of other people and the lack of empathy that goes with it.
I'm enjoying the site, purely as a geek who's interested in history, and as someone who read about all this stuff in books growing up, but... I have to say there's not a story on this site that doesn't make Steve Jobs look like a douchebag. Rest in peace and everything but the interview looks like the actions of some hipster bully. Most people find LSD -diminishes- their ego. Woz, OTOH, is the guy! I dunno if he's rich now, but from what I see on the net he seems up to his elbows in breadboard and oscilloscopes, so glad he's happy. And I'd gladly pay $5 for a $2 bill.