The Original Macintosh:    60 of 127 
Little Rubber Feet
Author: Paul Tavenier
Date: January 1983
Characters: Jerry Manock, Paul Tavenier, Steve Jobs, Matt Carter
Topics: Industrial Design
Summary: When industrial design and the reality of purchasing meet, and we find that no detail was too small to cause problems...

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.

The Little Kingdom
Back to The Original Macintosh
What's A Megaflop?

Account Name:


Create new account
Related Stories
Overall Rating: 3.85

Your rating: