When I interviewed for a job in the Macintosh group in May 1982, I was working at Tymshare (just down the block), where I had been immersed in the computer timesharing industry for so long that I hadn’t kept up with what was going on in the world of personal computing. But I’d always been quick to learn new technologies, so I wasn’t worried when I went to talk to Chris Espinosa about the possibility of writing what would come to be known as Inside Macintosh.
I should add that at Tymshare, in a group acquired from SRI, I’d worked for a while under Doug Engelbart and used a rather complicated mouse device he’d invented. It had struck me as an interesting experiment but a bit gimmicky. I’d also played Hangman on a computer at Xerox PARC with a friend who worked there; the graphics seemed pretty cool, but I thought of it only as a game/toy — otherwise why wouldn’t Xerox have been attempting to market it for more serious purposes? Much earlier I had used electronic messaging on the ARPAnet, mainly to communicate with fellow workers in the building, and at first thought it a silly substitute for walking down the hall to talk to someone in person. So you can see that the light about the potential for such innovations dawned very slowly on me.
At Apple, the interview with Chris went well. He was very enthusiastic about my skills, and of course about what the Mac group was doing. He demonstrated a prototype of the menu command interface on the Mac, but was even more excited to show me a demo of balls bouncing all over the screen, as yet another indication of how this little computer would “change the world.” I guess he thought a picture was worth a thousand words, because he didn’t fill in a lot of the blanks for me: it certainly seemed cute enough, great for games and such, but I couldn’t see much beyond that.
Later that day, back at Tymshare, a programmer friend of mine asked me how the interview had gone. When I got to the part about the balls bouncing on the screen, my friend became tremendously excited. He pushed me into a conference room, closed the door, and proceeded to point out the significance of what I’d seen. I don’t recall the details, but I remember that he opened my eyes to see beyond Hangman in terms of what graphics — and especially animated graphics — might come in handy for on a computer. I felt like I was looking into a crystal ball; I did, finally, get the picture. (And, of course, I got the job!)