While I never got to meet Steve Jobs, I did hear a great story from someone who worked directly with him at NeXT. The individual told me the story over a sushi lunch during a WebObjects training that I took (over 10) years ago. While he was at NeXT he sat in on a sales call to AT&T, and Steve Jobs was at the meeting. Steve was going on and on about the strengths of NeXTSTEP and object oriented programming, and the AT&T representatives had completely lost interest. This individual interrupted Steve, and according to him, he saved the day by bringing the level of conversation back down to the level of the AT&T reps, and regaining their interest. AT&T eventually purchased some NeXTSTATIONs to run custom applications. After the sales meeting the NeXT employees decided to go out and grab some sushi, and Steve tagged along. At one point Steve picked up a piece of Amaebi and used it as a puppet. He was pretending that the Amaebi was crying out to not be eaten. Just thinking about this makes me smile. It shows a different side of the man we often remember as the showman on stage selling us Apple’s latest gadet.
I’m not sure where I heard it, but I remember being shocked when I heard someone say that after Apple Computer, Inc. purchased NeXT the reality inside of Apple was more like NeXT taking over Apple. For those of us who are long time Apple users / fans / followers /etc., there was a certain “sprit” that surrounded Apple. Some call it the spirit of the Macintosh, or the spirit of the Apple ][. It is this spirit that kept the employees of Apple and the users of their platforms committed, even though the company was almost bankrupt. It is also the reason why Steve Jobs used the Think Different campaign to rally the troops shortly after his return. From my perspective, a lot of that spirit remained inside of Apple right up until the switch to Intel CPUs was announced. I’ll never forget the first time that I visited 1 Infinite Loop. This was in May of 2000, way before OS X had even shipped. The icon garden was still in place, and you could still feel the spirit of the Macintosh flowing all around the campus. On each subsequent trip to 1 Infinite Loop, that feeling diminished. In 2005, when Apple announced that they were transitioning to Intel CPUs, the last remnants of the old Apple computer were put to rest, and a new era began. I hope that the management inside of Apple is able to manage the company more effectively than John Sculley, Michael Spindler, and Gil Amelio did back in the ’90s.