The Original Macintosh:    6 of 127 
It's The Moustache That Matters
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Date: September 1980
Characters: Burrell Smith, Tom Whitney, Steve Wozniak
Topics: Management, Personality
Summary: Burrell wants to get promoted to engineer

Burrell was hired into Apple in February 1979 as Apple employee #282, in the lowly position of service technician, one of the lowest paying jobs at the company. Even though he'd been doing genius quality work as a hardware designer on the Macintosh project for a while now (more than nine months), and he was even filling in for Steve Wozniak on the low cost Apple II project, he still wasn't officially promoted to engineer as he requested, which was getting pretty frustrating.

Burrell started thinking about what it would take to get promoted. It obviously wasn't a matter of talent or technical skill, since he was already far more accomplished in that regard than most of the other hardware engineers. It wasn't a matter of working harder, since Burrell already worked harder and was more productive than most of the others. Finally, he noticed something that most of the other engineers had in common that he was lacking: they all had fairly prominent moustaches. And the engineering managers tended to have even bigger moustaches. Tom Whitney, the engineering VP, had the largest moustache of all.

So Burrell immediately started growing his own moustache. It took around a month or so for it to come in fully, but finally he pronounced it complete. And sure enough, that very afternoon, he was called into Tom Whitney's office and told that he was promoted to "member of technical staff" as a full-fledged engineer.

Scrooge McDuck
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I swear I am not making this up!
Hilarious! And astute of Burrell to glean what a promotion entailed.
Hello! I've translated into French some of your articles, they are available at this address : I just wanted to let you know about these translations, I think it's a good thing to let the French speaking people know about these stories :-) Sorry for this comment that's not very relevant (I don't mind you deleting it after reading it). Benjamin
another amazing tale. This story really nails home how creative Burrell was. How long did it take him to notice the mustaches of the other engineers? I would have never probably even guessed that. Why did mustaches matter so much though to these people? Its hard to fathom why that would be a sign of engineering prowess. I guess its just one of those silly things that go on in some companies. Makes me wonder what goes on at Apple today compared to what you lived through.
Heh, somewhere, in the late '70s, I got the idea that all proper computer engineers wore beards, I wonder where I got that idea? Paul (the bearded one) Driver.
It must have come from the very top. Looking at Steve Jobs in the early 80's, he was wearing the Burt Reynold's stache! You can see it on this video:
Realmente é ele. Atenciosamente.! Jim_-_Mackey
My beard/stache is so thick I could be president of the world if I wanted it....I just don't want it.
There's something about facial hair and software in the 1980s. In '89 I was the (most) junior member of a development team at IBM. At meetings I noticed that if I stroked my beard and looked thoughtful in meetings, people would stop talking and listen to me. Are people hard-wired to think that men with beards are somehow more wise than those without? I do wonder if it was correlation or causation here.