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Steve Jobs: (66)
The Macintosh's first great game
Date: June 1982
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Topics: Software Design,Games,Lisa,Marketing
Even though Bruce Daniels was the manager of the Lisa software team, he was very supportive of the Mac project. He had written the mouse-based text editor that we were using on the Lisa to write all of our code, and he even transferred to the Mac team as a mere programmer for a short while in the fall of 1981, before deciding that he preferred managing for Lisa. He would sometimes visit us to see what was new, but this time he had something exciting to show us.
"You've got to see the new game that Steve Capps wrote", he told me while he was connecting his hard drive up to my Lisa. He booted up into the Lisa Monitor development system, which featured a character-based UI similar to UCSD Pascal, and launched a program named "Alice". Steve Capps was the second member of the Lisa printing team, who started at Apple in September 1981. I had seen him around but not really met him yet.
The screen turned black and then, after a few seconds delay, a three dimensional chess board in exaggerated perspective filled most of the screen. On the rear side of the board was a set of small, white chess pieces, in their standard positions. Suddenly, pieces started jumping into the air, in long, slow parabolic arcs, growing larger as they got closer.
Soon there was one specimen of each type of piece, all rather humanoid looking except for the tower-like rook, lined up on the front rank of the board, waiting for the player to click on one to start the game. The player would be able to move like the piece they chose, so it was prudent to click on the queen, at least at first.
The pieces jumped back to their natural positions on the far side of the board, and an image of a young girl in an old fashioned dress floated down to the front row, which represented Alice from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" books, drawn in the style of the classic John Tenniel illustrations. The player controlled Alice and viewed the board from her perspective, facing away from the player so you only saw her from the rear.
A three digit score, rendered in a large, ornate, gothic font, appeared centered near the top of the screen, and then the game began in earnest, with opposing chess pieces suddenly leaping into the air, one at a time, in rapid succession. If you stood in one place for too long, an enemy piece would leap onto Alice's square, capturing her and ending the game.
It didn't take long to figure out that if you clicked on a square that was a legal move, Alice would leap to it, so it wasn't too hard to jump out of the way of an enemy piece. And, if you managed to leap onto the square of another piece before it could move out of the way, you knocked it out of action and were rewarded with some points. You won the game if Alice was the last one standing.
I was impressed at the prodigious creativity required to recast "Through The Looking Glass" as an action-packed video game that was beautiful to behold and fun to play. Alice was also addicting, although it took some practice to be able to survive for more than a few minutes. Obviously, we needed to have it running on the Mac as soon as possible.
Bruce Daniels seemed pleased that we liked the game. "Capps could probably port Alice to the Mac", he said, anticipating what we were thinking. "Do you think you could get him a prototype?"
Everyone agreed that we should get Capps a Mac prototype right away. I accompanied Bruce Daniels back to the Lisa building (where the rules required that non-Lisa employees be escorted by a Lisa team member), and I finally got to meet Steve Capps, who seemed easy-going and friendly, with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Later that afternoon, he visited Texaco Towers and I gave him the prototype and answered a few questions about the screen address and the development environment. He assured me that it wouldn't take that long to port.
Two days later, Capps came over to present us with a floppy disk containing the newly ported Alice game, now running on the Macintosh. It ran even better on the Mac than the Lisa, since the Mac's faster processor enabled smoother animation. Pretty soon, almost everybody on the software team was playing Alice for hours at a time.
Within a few weeks, I must have played hundreds of games of Alice, but the most prolific and accomplished player was Joanna Hoffman, the Mac's first marketing person. Joanna liked to come over to the software area toward the end of the day to see what was new, and now she usually ended up playing Alice for longer and longer periods. She had a natural talent for the game, and enjoyed relieving work-related stress by knocking out the rival chess pieces. She complained about the game being too easy, so Capps obliged by tweaking various parameters to keep it challenging for her, which was probably a mistake, since it made the game much too hard for average players.
Steve Jobs didn't play Alice very much, but he was duly impressed by the obvious programming skill it took to create it. "Who is this Capps guy? Why is he working on the Lisa?", he said as soon as he saw the program, mentioning Lisa with a hint of disdain. "We've got to get him onto the Mac team!"
But the Lisa was still months away from shipping, and Capps was needed to finish the printing software, so Steve wasn't able to effect the transfer. One weekend Capps ran into Steve Jobs in Los Gatos and was told, "Don't worry, the Mac team is going to nab you!" Finally, a compromise was reached, that allowed Capps to transfer over in January 1983 after the first release of the Lisa was completed.
Capps quickly became a crucial member of the Mac team, adding fresh energy and talent as we entered the home stretch, helping to finish the Toolbox and the Finder, as well as working on other stuff like "Guided Tour" diskette. But he also found time to embellish Alice with more cool features.
One day he showed me Alice's hidden "Cheshire Cat" menu, which allowed you to adjust various preferences. Alice didn't have a menu bar, so it was sort of part of the game to figure out how to invoke the preferences. It was accomplished by clicking on the score at the top of the screen, which caused a detailed, John Tenniel inspired Cheshire Cat bitmap to slowly fade into view; clicking on different parts of it set various preferences. Capps also created an exquisite, tiny rendering of the Cheshire Cat to serve as Alice's icon.
Over time, he added some interesting variations, invoked by clicking on various parts of the Cheshire Cat. For example, one variation made some of the squares of the chessboard disappear at random, causing unlucky pieces to fall through to oblivion below. He also added a feature that Woz suggested: as the cursor moved to the back of the board, its image got correspondingly smaller, adding to the illusion of depth.
By the fall of 1983, Capps started thinking about the best way to get Alice to market. One possibility was publishing it through Electronic Arts, which was founded a year earlier by Trip Hawkins, Lisa's former marketing manager. But Steve Jobs thought that the game at least partially belonged to Apple, and insisted that Apple be the publisher. He negotiated a modest deal with Capps, promising him that Apple would do a deluxe job with the packaging and marketing.
Alice was announced at the launch and featured in the original brochure, but it didn't became available until a couple of months later. True to Steve's word, the packaging was beautiful. The game disk was enclosed in a small cardboard box designed to look like a finely printed, old fashioned book, complete with an elaborate woodcut on the cover, that contained a hidden Dead Kennedy's logo, in tribute to one of Capp's favorite bands. Since Alice didn't take up the whole disk, Capps including a few other goodies with it, including a font and "Amazing", a fascinating maze generating program that he wrote.
When I saw the completed packaging, I was surprised to discover that the game wasn't called "Alice" anymore; apparently, that name was already trademarked for a database program. It was rechristened "Through The Looking Glass" for its commercial release.
Unfortunately, Apple never put the promised marketing effort into Alice. They were in a quandary because the market didn't understand the graphical user interface as a productivity enhancement yet; graphics meant games, so the Mac had to live down an initial reputation as being unsuitable for business tasks. Apple didn't exactly want to promote a game for the Mac at the time, no matter how sensational, so Alice never quite reached as wide an audience as it deserved.
We receive Steve's permission to dismantle the onerous burglar alarm
Date: August 1982
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Topics: Apple Spirit,Buildings,Management
By the spring of 1982, the Mac team was growing so rapidly that we had to move from Texaco Towers back to the main part of the Apple campus on Bandley Drive. We moved into Bandley 4, a medium sized building across the street from Apple's main office.
One of the things that I liked about Bandley 4 was that the software team was in the very back of the building, near the parking lot, so we could go out the back door to our cars, or to play basketball, without having to walk all the way around the building. This worked out well for a couple of months, but eventually the facilities group decided to put an alarm on the back door, so you couldn't go in and out freely. They didn't arm the alarm until 5:30pm, but that didn't help me, since I usually didn't go out to dinner until after 7pm, and then usually came back to work another few hours. The alarm became a major annoyance, since it made me walk significantly out of my way a few times every day.
Every once in a while someone would forget that the alarm was there, and walk out the door anyway. The alarm would produce a head-splitting wail, destroying any chance of concentration until a security guard arrived to disarm it, which sometimes could take more than ten minutes.
I complained about the alarm every way that I knew how, but to no avail. About one quarter of the software team worked late, and the alarm was unnecessary while we were there, so I begged the facilities supervisor not to turn it on until after midnight, even offering to arm it ourselves when the last person left. But my pleas fell on deaf ears.
Every couple of months, Bud Tribble would come down from Seattle and visit with us. We'd show him the latest work we were doing so he could make his great suggestions. Late one afternoon, he showed up in the software area, and we all gathered around to demo to him, including Bill Atkinson and Steve Jobs.
Bill had done some neat hi-resolution scans with an improved dithering algorithm, and he wanted to show them to Bud. They were on his hard disk in the Lisa building, so he ran out the back door to get it. It was after 5:30pm, so that set off the alarm, and a horrible, loud, pulsating noise filled the room.
It went on for at least three minutes before Steve yelled out, "Can't someone figure out how to stop that thing?"
I saw a chance to vanquish my nemesis. "Are we allowed to damage it to get it to stop?", I asked him.
"Yes, do anything you want, I don't care if you break it," he replied, holding his hands over his ears. "Just get the damn thing to stop!"
Bruce Horn and I ran over to the nearby hardware lab and picked up every tool we could find. I got a hammer and screwdriver, and proceeded to pound the screwdriver into the center of the alarm, driving a stake through the demon's heart. The screwdriver went all the way through to the other side, but the alarm kept sounding.
Finally, Bruce took over and gave the screwdriver a mighty twist, and the whole thing flew apart into a half dozen pieces and fell to the ground. The horrible noise finally stopped.
At that very moment, a grizzled security guard entered the back door, just in time to see us cheering as the wrecked alarm finally gave up the ghost. He looked at us, our tools of destruction still in our guilty hands, and said, "You guys are in big trouble!!! Who is in charge here? You better show me your badge."
Steve stepped forward and handed the guard his badge. "I'll take responsibility for this", he told him.
The guard scrutinized Steve's badge. He looked at Steve, then back at the badge a few times. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders, picked up the pieces of the broken alarm, and walked away, without saying another word.
We were gleeful that the alarm was gone, but exactly one week later, a new one was put in its place, which stayed there until we moved to Bandley 3 a few months later. I'm not sure why, but not even Steve could get them to set it for a later time.
We travel to Woz's rock festival
Date: September 1982
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
As soon as Steve Jobs took over the Macintosh project in January 1981, he recruited many of the crucial early Apple employees who had worked on the Apple II, including Rod Holt, Jerry Manock, Dan Kottke, Randy Wiggington and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Woz was enthusiastic about the Macintosh and started hanging out at the Mac team's new office at Texaco Towers, reviewing Burrell's design and learning the 68000 instruction set. But he was only working on the project for a couple of weeks when he crashed his Beechcraft Bonanza airplane while taking off near his home in Scott's Valley, sustaining a serious head injury and knocking out a couple of teeth.
The accident put Woz out of commission for almost two months. While he was recuperating, he had time to rethink his priorities and he decided that he wanted to go back to college to earn his undergraduate degree, for which he needed just one more year of classes, instead of returning to Apple. He enrolled in the engineering program at UC Berkeley, in the summer of 1981, under the assumed name of "Rocky Clark", in honor of his dog Rocky and his new wife, Candi Clark.
A couple of months after the crash, Woz was listening to his favorite radio station KFAT and had an inspiration about putting together a music festival, a "Woodstock West" featuring his favorite progressive country music performers. He realized that while he had the financial wherewithal, he didn't know the first thing about the music industry and filed the idea away, after mentioning it to a few friends.
Later that fall, while he was attending classes at Berkeley, Woz was introduced to a new age entrepreneur named Dr. Peter Ellis. Peter was a former college radical, who had organized a "survival fair" at San Jose State University in the 60s, where he presided over the burial of a Ford Pinto. He hit it off with Woz, and was enthusiastic about Woz's Woodstock West idea. Peter came up with the name "The US Festival" (in reaction to the "me" decade), and threw in other ideas like incorporating a technology fair and featuring a satellite linkup with rock musicians in Moscow. Woz wrote a sizable check to fund a new corporation, Unuson (which stood for "Unite Nations Using Singing Over Network"), to create and produce the US Festival, with Peter as the executive director.
Peter put together a team, and plans began to take shape for a impressive 3 day music festival to be held over Labor Day weekend at Glen Helen park in San Bernardino, around an hour away from Los Angeles. Unuson paid top dollar to hire the foremost rock promoter in the country, Bill Graham, to put together a superlative bill of first class bands, including the Police, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Santana and many others.
Woz encouraged his Apple friends to come to the US Festival by giving us special gold passes that got us in for free, and permitted us to hang around back stage. Burrell Smith, Bill Budge and myself rented a camper and drove down together, skipping work to leave Friday morning so we could be there by the start of festivities that evening.
After the long drive, we parked the camper a half mile away from the festival site, and walked the dusty trail to the main concert area amid the gathering crowd. We arrived just as the sun was setting and the first band, The Gang of Four, was taking the stage. After their set ended, we made our way to the stage area, to test out our gold passes and see if we could find Woz.
The security guard at the stage door verified our gold passes and let us in, but he seemed to resent doing it. I had never been backstage at a rock concert before. There was a nice spread of cold cuts and beverages in front of a line of trailers that served as dressing rooms for the bands. Lots of people were milling around, including roadies, groupies, bodyguards and even the occasional rock star.
Suddenly I heard a very loud noise, as someone rode into the backstage area on the largest motorcycle I had ever seen. At first I thought it was a Hell's Angel, but it turned out to be Bill Graham in a black leather jacket and sunglasses, scowling as he ordered people around. We didn't feel very welcome and were frequently asked to show our passes; it seemed like the festival staff was resentful that Woz's friends were allowed to be there.
We finally spotted Woz and waved to get his attention. He came over to us, looking happy and excited.
"Do you guys want to introduce a band? Which one? I've got it worked out with Bill Graham so my friends can introduce their favorite band if they want to. We still have plenty of slots left."
I was intrigued, since one of my favorite groups, the Kinks, were scheduled for Saturday afternoon. But getting up on stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people sounded utterly terrifying to me. I declined, but then I noticed that Burrell's eyes had lit up and he was very excited.
"Santana? Can I introduce Santana? That would be so cool..." Carlos Santana was one of Burrell's favorite guitarists.
Woz pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and checked it. "OK, Santana is still open," he told Burrell. "I've got you down for introducing Santana. Meet me here backstage, after Eddie Money finishes tomorrow and I'll show you what to do." Santana was the third act scheduled for Saturday, after Dave Edmunds and Eddie Money.
That evening, when we got back to the camper, Burrell wrote a brilliant short, sweet and humorous introduction of Santana to use the next day, and started to memorize it by reading it aloud. It was all he could talk about until we made our way backstage early on Saturday morning. Burrell waited expectantly until Woz showed up. He read Woz his introduction, which Woz really liked.
Woz led Burrell up onto the stage, trying to find Bill Graham to introduce him to Burrell and tell him about the upcoming Santana intro. But lots of people wanted to talk with Woz, and he got distracted, leaving Burrell alone on stage for a few minutes, just as Bill Graham appeared, looking pissed off as usual.
Bill Graham took one look at Burrell and grimaced. "Who the #$*! are you? What are you doing on the goddamn stage?"
Burrell explained that he was a friend of Woz's and was waiting onstage to introduce Santana. He pulled out his notes for the introduction from his pocket and waved them for Bill Graham to see.
"Sure you are," Bill Graham responded sarcastically. " I'm going to introduce Santana. And you're gonna get the #%$*! off the stage right now, this instant!"
Burrell looked around for Woz but couldn't spot him. He started to argue but stopped short when he saw how furious Bill Graham became.
Bill Graham motioned to one of his ubiquitous bodyguards, a huge guy with long hair and tatoos covering his forearms. "Please escort this gentleman from the premises", he ordered peremptorily, "and don't let him return!" The bodyguard literally picked Burrell up off the ground by the back of his shirt collar and carried him off the stage and then completely out of the backstage area.
That was the last we saw of Burrell for the next six hours and we wondered what had happened to him. Finally, he reappeared just before Tom Petty started the final set of the day. Bill Graham's thug had dragged him outside the festival gates and confiscated his gold pass. Burrell didn't know what to do, but eventually he obtained another gold pass by walking a few miles to the house that Woz had rented for the weekend. Woz was sorry about what had transpired and asked Burrell if he wanted to try again on Sunday to introduce another band, but this time Burrell was wary and quickly declined. In fact, he had had enough of the US Festival and persuaded Bill and me to drive back home early on Sunday morning without attending the last day of shows.
Steve Jobs was almost 1982's Man of the Year
Date: December 1982
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Topics: The Press,Personality
The February 15th, 1982 edition of Time magazine featured none other than Steve Jobs on its cover, appearing in an article entitled "Striking It Rich: America's Risk Takers". Instead of a photograph, Steve was depicted in a drawing with a red apple balanced on his head that was pierced by a zig-zag bolt of light emanating from an Apple II.
The article inside focused on a number of high tech start-ups, but there was a long sidebar that told the story of Apple's meteoric rise, written by a young business reporter named Mike Moritz. It was a bit critical in places ("As an executive, Jobs has sometimes been petulant and harsh on subordinates"), but in general it was positive about the company and its prospects.
Macintosh development was shrouded in secrecy, even within Apple, so we were surprised one day a few months later when Steve appeared in the software area of Bandley 4 accompanied by the Time reporter, Mike Moritz. Steve requested that I give him a demo of the Macintosh, and answer all of his questions. Apparently, Mike wanted to write a book about Apple, and managed to convince Steve to give him total access to the company, including the Macintosh team.
"Mike's going to be our historian," Steve informed us, "so you can tell him everything. Treat him like he's a member of the team, because he's going to write our story for us."
The previous year, a development team at Data General was immortalized by Tracy Kidder's best selling book, "The Soul of a New Machine", about the ups and downs of developing a new mini-computer. Now it seemed like Mike Moritz was going to do something similar for the Mac team.
Over the next few months, Mike spent lots of time hanging around the Mac team, attending various meetings and conducting interviews over lunch or dinner, to learn our individual stories. Mike had grown up in South Wales and attended Oxford before moving to the US for grad school, obtaining an MBA from Wharton. He was in his mid-twenties, about the same age as most of us, and was very smart, with a sharp, cynical sense of humor, so he fit right in, and seemed to understand what we were trying to accomplish.
In December 1982, word somehow got around that Time Magazine was considering awarding Steve Jobs its prestigious "Man of the Year" designation for 1982. Mike Moritz, who was by now Time's San Francisco Bureau Chief, came down to Apple for another round of interviews, as background for the lengthy "Man of the Year" story. But we were in for a surprise when the award was announced the last week of the year.
Instead of crowning Steve Jobs as the Man of the Year as we expected, Time's editorial staff gave the designation to "The Computer", declaring 1982 to be the "year of the computer" and explaining that "it would have been possible to single out as Man of the Year one of the engineers or entrepreneurs who masterminded this technological revolution, but no one person has clearly dominated those turbulent events. More important, such a selection would obscure the main point. TIME's Man of the Year for 1982, the greatest influence for good or evil, is not a man at all. It is a machine: the computer."
The cover story did include another profile of Steve Jobs, containing some comments that were less than complimentary. One unspecified friend was quoted saying "something is happening to Steve that's sad and not pretty", but the best quote was attributed to Jef Raskin: "He would have made an excellent King of France."
Steve became quite upset when he read an advance copy of the Time article on New Year's eve, and even called up Dan Kottke and Jef Raskin early on New Year's Day to complain to them about it. Soon, Mike Moritz was no longer welcome on the Apple campus; in fact, Steve told the software team "if any one of you ever talk to him again, you'll be fired on the spot!"
But some of us talked with Mike again surreptitiously, as he was putting the finishing touches on his book around the time of the Mac introduction. The book, entitled "The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer", was published in fall of 1984; twenty years later it remains one of the best books about Apple Computer ever written.
Perhaps inspired by the example of Steve Jobs and Apple, Mike Moritz switched careers in 1986 to become a venture capitalist, working for Don Valentine at Sequoia, one of the original investors in Apple. Mike became the original investor in Yahoo in April 1995, convincing Jerry Yang and David Filo to commercialize their web directory, and today is one of the most respected VCs in the industry.
When industrial design and the reality of purchasing meet, and we find that no detail was too small to cause problems...
Date: January 1983
Author: Paul Tavenier
Topics: Industrial Design
I was recruited to do the mechanical purchasing on the Mac in Dec of 1982. I was also one of a very few of the "Bozos" that were allowed to transfer over to the project from the manufacturing side of the Apple II business, as Steve Jobs had an extremely low regard for most everyone who worked there, and almost always hired from outside.
At a shortage meeting it was mentioned that the "little rubber feet" that mounted on the bottom of the case were not sticking where they belonged, and there was also trouble with availability from the supplier, Trend Plastics. In investigating this, I found that there was tooling that molded a custom rubber foot with a recessed Apple logo in it. Trend was a great supplier, but this part was a little unusual for them and they were having trouble sourcing the proper peel-and-stick adhesive for the job. We had paid about 8k for the tool, and the parts were something like two bits each.
At the next day's meeting, I mentioned that perhaps the design was a little overboard and maybe we should reconsider, as 3M had a standard part, called a "bump-on", that was available in the correct size, stuck to the case properly, and could even be molded in Apple beige if we desired. Cost was less than 2 cents.
OK, maybe what I really said was "This part is a real designer's wet dream, we need to lose it."
Jerry Manock, who was in charge of the industrial design group, was not even remotely amused. He wasn't even at the meeting, but someone ratted me out. (I would have made the comment even if he was there, that's just the way things were - you really could speak your mind.) He had also been contacted by the 3M rep, as that was the first guy I had called when chasing down shortages.
A very angry Jerry dragged me into a conference room. "Who authorized you to contact 3M about this part", he demanded. "I don't appreciate the wet dream comment either".
I replied that my job was to fill the shortages for the pilot build, and that I didn't need authorization from him or anyone else to contact a supplier. If he had a problem he could take it up with Matt Carter, who was then in charge of manufacturing.
We then called a truce, and went on to pretty much tolerate each other after that.
Trend made one more attempt to get the adhesive right and failed. Cost considerations won out, and every Mac shipped from Fremont left the plant with four 3M bump-ons stuck firmly to the bottom.