There are two-toed sloths and there are three-toed sloths,the case being determined by the forepaws of the animals,since all sloths have three claws
on their hind paws. I had thegreat luck one summer of studying the three-toed sloth in situin the equatorial jungles of Brazil. It is a highly intriguingcreature. Its only real habit is indolence. It sleeps or rests
onaverage twenty hours a day. Our team tested the sleep habitsof five wild three-toed sloths by placing on their heads, in theearly evening after they had fallen asleep, bright red plasticdishes filled with water. We found them still in
place late thenext morning, the water of the dishes swarming with insects.
The sloth is at its busiest at sunset, using the word busy herein the most
relaxed sense. It moves along the bough of a treein its characteristic upside-down position at the speed ofroughly 400 metres an hour. On the ground, it crawls to itsnext tree at the rate of 250 metres an hour, when
motivated,which is 440 times slower than a motivated cheetah.
Unmotivated, it covers four to five metres in an hour.
“You aren’t announcing that you have been limiting yourself!” Roberta laughed.
“No, that isn’t my claim, but I have to confess that my limit is in sight,” he told her.
“Tough luck, Dad. Now, I am only getting well started,” Roberta said, then added to her mother, “If you drew prizes for all the good things you cook you
would have to have a museum for them as large as Colonel Lindbergh’s in St. Louis.”
“Second the motion,” Harvey put in, then went on to his young sister, “Who’s the lady you have been piloting along the coast the11 last couple of weeks?
Larry Kingsley told me she’s got loads of money and has taken to
taxiing about in
the air with
Jobs did not come into the office regularly, but he was on the phone to Amelio often. Once he had succeeded in making sure that Tevanian, Rubinstein, and others he trusted were given top positions, he turned his
focus onto the sprawling product line. One of his pet peeves was Newton, the handheld personal digital assistant that boasted handwriting recognition capability. It was not quite as bad as the jokes and Doonesbury comic strip
made it seem, but Jobs hated it. He disdained the idea of having a stylus or pen for writing on a screen. “God gave us ten styluses,” he would say, waving
his fingers. “Let’s not invent another.” In addition, he viewed Newton as John Sculley’s one major innovation, his pet project. That alone doomed it in Jobs’s eyes.
“You ought to kill Newton,” he told Amelio one day by phone.
It was a suggestion out of the blue, and Amelio pushed back. “What do you mean, kill it?” he said. “Steve, do you have any idea how expensive that would be?”
“Shut it down, write it off, get rid of it,” said Jobs. “It doesn’t matter what it costs. People will cheer you if you got rid of it.”
“I’ve looked into Newton and it’s going to be a moneymaker,” Amelio declared. “I don’t support getting rid of it.” By May, however, he announced
plans to spin off the Newton division, the beginning of its yearlong stutter-step march to the grave.
Tevanian and Rubinstein would come by Jobs’s house to keep him informed, and soon much of Silicon Valley knew that Jobs was quietly wresting power from Amelio. It was not so much a Machiavellian power play as it was Jobs
being Jobs. Wanting control was ingrained in his nature. Louise Kehoe, the Financial Times reporter who had foreseen this when she questioned Jobs and Amelio at the December announcement, was the first with the story. “Mr. Jobs has become the power behind the throne,” she reported at the end of
February. “He is said to be directing decisions on which parts of Apple’s operations should be cut. Mr. Jobs has urged a number of former Apple colleagues to return to the company, hinting strongly that he plans to take
charge, they said. According to one of Mr. Jobs’ confidantes, he has decided that Mr. Amelio and his appointees are unlikely to succeed in reviving Apple, and he is intent
them to ensure
the survival of ‘
Jobs was, in fact, trotted out for Macworld right at the beginning of January, and this reaffirmed his opinion that Amelio was a bozo. Close to four thousand of the faithful fought for seats in the ballroom of the San Francisco Marriott to
hear Amelio’s keynote address. He was introduced by the actor Jeff Goldblum. “I play an expert in chaos theory in The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” he said. “I figure that will qualify me to speak at an Apple event.” He
then turned it over to Amelio, who came onstage wearing a flashy sports jacket and a banded-collar shirt buttoned tight at the neck, “looking like a
Vegas comic,” the Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton noted, or in the words of the technology writer Michael Malone, “looking exactly like your newly divorced uncle on his first date.”
The bigger problem was that Amelio had gone on vacation, gotten into a nasty tussle with his speechwriters, and refused to rehearse. When Jobs arrived
backstage, he was upset by the chaos, and he seethed as Amelio stood on the podium bumbling through a disjointed and endless presentation. Amelio was
unfamiliar with the talking points that popped up on his teleprompter and soon was trying to wing his presentation. Repeatedly he lost his train of
thought. After more than an hour, the audience was aghast. There were a few welcome breaks, such as when he brought out the singer Peter Gabriel to
demonstrate a new music program. He also pointed out Muhammad Ali in the first row; the champ was supposed to come onstage to promote a website
about Parkinson’s disease, but Amelio never invited him up or explained why he was there.
Amelio rambled for more than two hours before he finally called onstage the person everyone was waiting to cheer. “Jobs, exuding confidence, style, and
sheer magnetism, was the antithesis of the fumbling Amelio as he strode onstage,” Carlton wrote. “The return of Elvis would not have provoked a
bigger sensation.” The crowd jumped to its feet and gave him a raucous ovation for more than a minute. The wilderness decade was over. Finally Jobs
waved for silence and cut to the heart of the challenge. “We’ve got to get the spark back,” he said. “The Mac didn’t progress much in ten years. So Windows
caught up. So we
have to come up
with an OS that’
s even better.”
When the hype died down, the reaction to the NeXT computer was muted, especially since it was not yet commercially available. Bill Joy, the brilliant
and wry chief scientist at rival Sun Microsystems, called it “the first Yuppie workstation,” which was not an unalloyed compliment. Bill Gates, as might be expected, continued to be publicly dismissive. “Frankly, I’m disappointed,”
he told the Wall Street Journal. “Back in 1981, we were truly excited by the Macintosh when Steve showed it to us, because when you put it side-by-side with another computer, it was unlike anything anybody had ever seen
before.” The NeXT machine was not like that. “In the grand scope of things, most of these features are truly trivial.” He said that Microsoft would
continue its plans not to write software for the NeXT. Right after the announcement event, Gates wrote a parody email to his staff. “All reality has
been completely suspended,” it began. Looking back at it, Gates laughs that it may have been “the best email I ever wrote.”
When the NeXT computer finally went on sale in mid-1989, the factory was primed to churn out ten thousand units a month. As it turned out, sales were
about four hundred a month. The beautiful factory robots, so nicely painted, remained mostly idle, and NeXT continued to hemorrhage cash.
“It’s rare that you see an artist in his thirties or forties able to really contribute something amazing,” Jobs declared as he was about to turn thirty.
That held true for Jobs in his thirties, during the decade that began with his ouster from Apple in 1985. But after turning forty in 1995, he flourished. Toy
Story was released that year, and the following year Apple’s purchase of NeXT offered him reentry into the company he had founded. In returning to Apple, Jobs would show that even people over forty could be great innovators.
Having transformed personal computers in his twenties, he would now help to do the same for music players, the recording industry’s business model,
The negotiations lasted into 1988, with Jobs becoming prickly over tiny details. He would stalk out of meetings over
disagreements about colors or design, only to be calmed down by Tribble or Lewin. He didn’t seem to know which frightened him more, IBM or Microsoft. In April Perot decided to play
host for a mediating session at his Dallas headquarters, and a deal was struck: IBM would license the current version of the NeXTSTEP software, and if the managers liked it, they would use it on some of their workstations. IBM sent
to Palo Alto a 125-page contract. Jobs tossed it down without reading it. “You don’t get it,” he said as he walked out of the room. He demanded a simpler contract of only a few pages, which he got within a week.
Jobs wanted to keep the arrangement secret from Bill Gates until the big unveiling of the NeXT computer, scheduled for October. But IBM insisted on
being forthcoming. Gates was furious. He realized this could wean IBM off its dependence on Microsoft operating systems. “NeXTSTEP isn’t compatible with anything,” he raged to IBM executives.
At first Jobs seemed to have pulled off Gates’s worst nightmare. Other computer makers that were beholden to Microsoft’s operating systems, most notably Compaq and Dell, came to ask Jobs for the right to clone NeXT and
license NeXTSTEP. There were even offers to pay a lot more if NeXT would get out of the hardware business altogether.
That was too much for Jobs, at least for the time being. He cut off the clone discussions. And he began to cool toward IBM. The chill became reciprocal.
When the person who made the deal at IBM moved on, Jobs went to Armonk to meet his replacement, Jim Cannavino. They cleared the room and talked one-on-one. Jobs demanded more money to keep the relationship going and
to license newer versions of NeXTSTEP to IBM. Cannavino made no commitments, and he subsequently stopped returning Jobs’s phone calls. The deal lapsed. NeXT got a bit of money
for a licensing fee,
but it never
got the chance to
change the world.
Jobs came up with a brilliant jujitsu maneuver against Gates, one that could have changed the balance of power in the computer industry forever. It required Jobs to do two things that were against his nature: licensing out his
software to another hardware maker and getting into bed with IBM. He had a pragmatic streak, albeit a tiny one, so he was able to overcome his reluctance.
But his heart was never fully in it, which is why the alliance would turn out to be short-lived.
It began at a party, a truly memorable one, for the seventieth birthday of the Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in June 1987 in Washington.
Six hundred guests attended, including President Ronald Reagan. Jobs flew in from California and IBM’s chairman John Akers from New York. It was the
first time they had met. Jobs took the opportunity to bad-mouth Microsoft and attempt to wean IBM from using its Windows operating system. “I
couldn’t resist telling him I thought IBM was taking a giant gamble betting its entire software strategy on Microsoft, because I didn’t think its software was very good,” Jobs recalled.
To Jobs’s delight, Akers replied, “How would you like to help us?” Within a few weeks Jobs showed up at IBM’s Armonk, New York, headquarters with his
software engineer Bud Tribble. They put on a demo of NeXT, which impressed the IBM engineers. Of particular significance was NeXTSTEP, the machine’s
object-oriented operating system. “NeXTSTEP took care of a lot of trivial programming chores that slow down the software development process,” said
Andrew Heller, the general manager of IBM’s workstation
unit, who was so
impressed by Jobs
that he named his
newborn son Steve.
Less than $7 million had gone into the company thus far, and there was little to show for it other than a neat logo and some snazzy offices. It had no
revenue or products, nor any on the horizon. Not surprisingly, the venture capitalists all passed on the offer to invest.
Jobs made an offer to Perot that was three times more costly than had quietly been offered to venture capitalists a few months earlier. For $20 million, Perot would get 16% of the equity in the company, after Jobs put in another
$5 million. That meant the company would be valued at about $126 million. But money was not a major consideration for Perot. After a meeting with
Jobs, he declared that he was in. “I pick the jockeys, and the jockeys pick the horses and ride them,” he told Jobs. “You guys are the ones I’m betting on, so you figure it out.”
There was, however, one cowboy who was dazzled. Ross Perot, the bantam Texan who had founded Electronic Data Systems, then sold it to General Motors for $2.4 billion, happened to watch a PBS documentary, The
Entrepreneurs, which had a segment on Jobs and NeXT in November 1986. He instantly identified with Jobs and his gang, so much so that, as he watched
them on television, he said, “I was finishing their sentences for them.” It was a line eerily similar to one Sculley had often used. Perot called Jobs the next day and offered, “If you ever need an investor, call me.”
Jobs did indeed need one, badly. But he was careful not to show it. He waited a week before calling back. Perot sent some of his analysts to size up NeXT,
but Jobs took care to deal directly with Perot. One of his great regrets in life, Perot later said, was that he had not bought Microsoft, or a large stake in it,
when a very young Bill Gates had come to visit him in Dallas in 1979. By the time Perot called Jobs, Microsoft had just gone public with a $1 billion
valuation. Perot had missed out on the opportunity to make a lot of money and have
a fun adventure.
He was eager
not to make
that mistake again.
Perot brought to NeXT something that was almost as valuable as his $20 million lifeline: He was a quotable, spirited cheerleader for the company, who could lend it an air of credibility among grown-ups. “In terms of a startup
company, it’s one that carries the least risk of any I’ve seen in 25 years in the computer industry,” he told the New York Times. “We’ve had some
sophisticated people see the hardware—it blew them away. Steve and his whole NeXT team are the darnedest bunch of perfectionists I’ve ever seen.”
Perot also traveled in rarefied social and business circles that complemented Jobs’s own. He took Jobs to a black-tie dinner dance in San Francisco that
Gordon and Ann Getty gave for King Juan Carlos I of Spain. When the king asked Perot whom he should meet, Perot immediately produced Jobs. They
were soon engaged in what Perot later described as “electric conversation,” with Jobs animatedly describing the next wave in computing. At the end the
king scribbled a note and handed it to Jobs. “What happened?” Perot asked. Jobs answered, “I sold him a computer.”
These and other stories were incorporated into the mythologized story of Jobs that Perot told wherever he went. At a briefing at the National Press Club
in Washington, he spun Jobs’s life story into a Texas-size yarn about a young man
so poor he couldn’t afford to go to college, working in his garage at night, playing with computer chips, which was his hobby, and his dad—who looks
like a character out of a Norman Rockwell painting—comes in one day and said, “Steve, either make something you can sell or go get a job.” Sixty days
later, in a wooden box that his dad made for him, the first Apple
computer was created.
And this high school
changed the world.
“It will be all gravy to you,” he argued. “You will be ahead of the parade. It’s never been done before.” They agreed in principle and then went out to play skittles over beer at a nearby pub where Lord Byron used to drink. By the
time it launched, the NeXT would also include a dictionary, a thesaurus, and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, making it one of the pioneers of the concept of searchable electronic books.
Instead of using off-the-shelf chips for the NeXT, Jobs had his engineers design custom ones that integrated a variety of functions on one chip. That would have been hard enough, but Jobs made it almost impossible by
continually revising the functions he wanted it to do. After a year it became clear that this would be a major source of delay.
He also insisted on building his own fully automated and futuristic factory, just as he had for the Macintosh; he had not been chastened by that experience. This time too he made the same mistakes, only more excessively.
Machines and robots were painted and repainted as he compulsively revised his color scheme. The walls were museum white, as they had been at the Macintosh factory, and there were $20,000 black leather chairs and a
custom-made staircase, just as in the corporate headquarters. He insisted that the machinery on the 165-foot assembly line be configured to move the circuit boards from right to left as they got built, so that the process would
look better to visitors who watched from the viewing gallery. Empty circuit boards were fed in at one end and twenty minutes later, untouched by humans, came out the other end as completed boards. The process followed
the Japanese principle known as kanban, in which each machine performs its task only when the next machine is ready to receive another part.
Jobs had not tempered his way of dealing with employees. “He applied charm or public humiliation in a way that in most cases proved to be pretty effective,” Tribble recalled. But sometimes it wasn’t. One engineer, David
Paulsen, put in ninety-hour weeks for the first ten months at NeXT. He quit when “Steve walked in one Friday afternoon and told us how unimpressed he was with what we were doing.” When Business Week asked him why he treated
employees so harshly, Jobs said it made the company better. “Part of my responsibility is to be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” But he still had his spirit and
charisma. There were plenty of field trips, visits by akido masters, and off-site retreats. And he still exuded the pirate flag spunkiness. When Apple fired Chiat/Day, the ad firm that had done the “1984” ad and taken out the
newspaper ad saying “Welcome IBM—seriously,” Jobs took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal proclaiming, “Congratulations
Seriously . . . Because
I can guarantee you:
there is life after Apple.”
In order to translate the NeXT logo into the look of real products, Jobs needed an industrial designer he trusted. He talked to a few possibilities, but none of them
impressed him as much as the wild Bavarian he had imported to Apple: Hartmut Esslinger, whose frogdesign had set up shop in Silicon Valley
and who, thanks to Jobs, had a lucrative contract with Apple. Getting IBM to permit Paul Rand to do work for NeXT was a small miracle willed into existence by Jobs’s belief that reality can be distorted. But that was a snap
compared to the likelihood that he could convince Apple to permit Esslinger to work for NeXT.
This did not keep Jobs from trying. At the beginning of November 1985, just five weeks after Apple filed suit against him,
Jobs wrote to Eisenstat and asked for a dispensation. “I spoke with Hartmut Esslinger this weekend and he
suggested I write you a note expressing why I wish to work with him and frogdesign on the new products for NeXT,” he said. Astonishingly, Jobs’s
argument was that he did not know what Apple had in the works, but Esslinger
did. “NeXT has no knowledge as to the current or future directions of Apple’s product designs, nor do other design
firms we might deal with, so it is possible to inadvertently design similar looking products. It is in both Apple’s and
NeXT’s best interest to rely on Hartmut’s professionalism to make sure this does not occur.” Eisenstat recalled being
flabbergasted by Jobs’s audacity, and he replied curtly. “I have previously expressed my concern on behalf of Apple that you are engaged in a business course
which involves your utilization of Apple’s confidential business information,” he wrote. “Your
letter does not alleviate my concern in any way. In fact it heightens my concern because it states that you have ‘no knowledge as to the current or future
directions of Apple’s product designs,’ a statement which is not true.”
What made the request all the more astonishing to Eisenstat was that it was Jobs who, just a year earlier, had forced frogdesign to abandon its work on Wozniak’s remote control device.shlf419
Jobs realized that in order to work with Esslinger (and for a variety of other reasons), it would be necessary to resolve the lawsuit that Apple had filed.
Fortunately Sculley was willing. In January 1986 they reached an out-of-
court agreement involving no financial damages. In return for Apple’s dropping its suit, NeXT agreed to a variety of restrictions: Its product would be
marketed as a high-end workstation, it would be sold directly to colleges shlf419
and universities, and it would not ship before March 1987. Apple also insisted that the NeXT machine “not use an operating system compatible with the Macintosh,” though it could be argued that Apple shlf419
would have been
better served by
insisting on just