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Apple Businesses

The Man Behind Apple And Pixar 331

Ant writes "Steve Jobs is the chief executive of two of the most powerful technology brands in the world: Apple and Pixar. But what motivates him? And how does he choose a new washing machine? An article in the Independent explores this much loved and much hated man." From the article: "Alan Deutschmann, a journalist who researched Jobs's middle years for a biography called The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, believes he displays two personalities in his dealings with people: Good Steve and Bad Steve. The Good side is charming, and can make people believe almost anything; that's the side on public view at the rock-star product launches. He's been said to have a 'reality distortion field' - by a mixture of charm and exaggeration, he can make you believe pretty much anything."
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The Man Behind Apple And Pixar

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Monday October 31, 2005 @02:46AM (#13913128)
    One of the more interesting paragraphs in an article of otherwise rehashed details this:

    Jobs is a fiendishly good negotiator, a skill honed in the 1970s, when he charmed every supplier in Silicon Valley into providing parts for the first Apple computers. It's this ability that makes him valuable to Pixar, where Jobs isn't so involved in the production side (that is handled by John Lasseter). Jobs's role was to write the cheques (which nearly bankrupted him, until the company was floated) and barter with film studios. Which he did with accomplishment: Disney gave in to Pixar, and is presently trying to woo it back to a new distribution deal - a deal that Jobs is making Disney give up all sorts of favours for, like providing content in the form of TV shows for his Apple iTunes store. The giant Disney, kowtowing to the tiny Apple? A bizarre reversal.
    An interesting speculation, which would explain how Jobs was able to get Disney to be the first to put TV on ITMS - anyone remember how scared Disney was of DVD's for quite some time? Uses Pixar as leverage is diabolically clever. And it's even hinted at by the only other non-music video for sale being Pixar shorts.
  • Flipsides (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Monday October 31, 2005 @02:48AM (#13913133) Journal

    Walk around the campus at Microsoft, or across to Cafe Macs in Cupertino, and you come across the same sort of casual arrogance - both sets of employees generally (there are exceptions :-) think they're in the best place to be.

    In Microsoft's case, it's because they're the most successful computer company in the world, bar none. That they're on pretty much every desktop (or at least 90% or so of them), and that what they do, matters. Microsoft is all to do with preserving and increasing that user-base, and delivering what (mainly business) requires to do so.

    In Apple's case, it's more insidious (possibly that's being harsh, perhaps 'subtle') - Apple engineers think they make the best computers. Bar none. They don't think they're the most popular (there's an implied 'yet' in that statement), but they do think they're the best. Apple is all to do with ease-of-use, attention-to-detail, and a good experience. They invest thought.

    Some of the Apple attitude comes from having the potential for Steve Jobs to "take an interest" in your project. You *really* want it to measure up, if he does, and Mr. Jobs (to you!) is a perfectionist. This does keep people on their toes, but I wonder how often it *really* happens.

    There's more though - the 'ease-of-use' is a mantra to the Apple employees I've met. They really care how their software is perceived, and I think it shows in the product. Sure, there are business decisions that override engineering wishes, but it seems to be less the case at Apple than anywhere else. I think that comes from the top (SJ) as well.

    For me, back then, Apple computers sucked big time before OS-X came out. The focus of the company was pointed in a different direction. Now they woo techies, artists, movie-people, graphics designers, and business (with the 'office' suite) alike. For me, now, an OS-X machine with 2 cinema-displays is the best damn unix workstation I've ever used, and I've been using Linux since it came on floppies, Irix (ok, that was a close second), SunOS, Solaris, HPUX, etc...

    I personally think SJ has done well - long may he continue, especially as I have some stock in the company I bought a while back when it was a lot lower :-)

  • Re:Flipsides (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheGSRGuy ( 901647 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:08AM (#13913191)
    "Walk around the campus at Microsoft, or across to Cafe Macs in Cupertino, and you come across the same sort of casual arrogance - both sets of employees generally (there are exceptions :-) think they're in the best place to be."

    So? What's wrong with taking pride in the company you work for? I applaud someone who respects the company they work for. There's countless white-collar jobs that are staffed by people who downright hate the company they work for and can't agree with a single part of the corporate statement.

    Those with the good attitudes are the most productive and best employees.
  • Re:Flipsides (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:08AM (#13913193)
    In an interesting interview with Bob Cringely on NerdTV, Dave Winer calls Bill Gates "our generation's tragic figure". His reasoning is that Bill Gates is the son who was not going to repeat the same mistake of the father, IBM.

    If Bill Gates lived the life of the tragic figure, Steve Jobs is living the life of the classic hero. Banished and left for the dustbin of computer history, Jobs returns to Apple, after many years of isolation, and became Apple's savior.
  • by putko ( 753330 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:24AM (#13913228) Homepage Journal
    I never liked the Macs and their frilly user interface. Being a Unix geek, I just wanted a set of Unix-like (or better tools).

    Some things, like Macscheme, really impressed me though.

    I remember working with their development tools (Neal Stephenson wrote the same) and being surprised to see that they were put together like a bunch of Unix tools --- command line, pipes and so on -- but, it was a like a version of the Unix tools put together by two teenage brothers, and one was unfortunately a bit "special" -- aka, retarded.

    Their insistence on the "resource" fork always struck me as idiotic: data is data. If it is in a file, it is a bunch of bytes (or even blocks of bytes) -- no need to have separate "meta" information. That drove me nuts -- it meant you couldn't easily make tools (as in any Unix environment), because you had to be willing to do resource fork stuff. That sort of thing convinced me that the Mac was half-baked, and I should just stick to BSD-derived OSes.

    So I'm happy to see that Apple got on the Mach tip, and now they have a decent userland and tools (for crabby programmers like myself). But I don't use it -- for my needs, BSD on x86 is wonderful.

  • Re:Flipsides (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ankarbass ( 882629 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:25AM (#13913232)
    I don't think that the OP was saying there was anything wrong with it, just that it's the culture of those places. It sounded more to me like he was drawing some parallels between working for MS and Apple.

    I think he was further suggesting that the culture is perhaps a bit larger than life, that is, Jobs doesn't walk up to your cubicle all that often to see what you are doing even though people stay on their toes because they expect it might happen. Or, they wish it would happen...oh pick me Mr Jobs!!!

    I can't imagine development at either job place is low pressure. But, I can't imagine too many places other places where the opportunity has so much potential either. Not that I'd work at either place, it's just not my cup of tea.
  • Bad Steve stories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:26AM (#13913238)
    Here's a couple of examples of Bad Steve.

    First story. Back in 1983, Steve was a frequent visitor to Apple's Bandley 3 building where the original Mac was under development. After all, he was the de facto project manager, as well as the company CEO. (Incidentally, that was the building with the grand piano in the foyer with guest pianists for the residents as well as weekly massages if they wished, as well as other minor benefits.)

    Steve was driving a BMW 3 series at the time and although his office was only a few hundred yards from Bandley 3 he always drove over for progress reports, etc. Being a busy guy, he also had the habit of parking in the nearest empty parking spot to the entrance, which almost inevitably was one of a places reserved for handicapped drivers. One day, somebody became fed up with this and left a notice on his windshield to the effect that the these spots were intended for the physically, rather than the emotionally, handicapped.

    Steve wasn't a happy camper. He raged into the building and instructed the Mac team management team to "find out who did this and fire their ass". Of course, they didn't find the guy....

    Apparantly Steve didn't learn from this - I've been told there was a similar incident some years later at Mariani 1 building.

    Second story. About six months before the release of the Mac, Ernie (forgotten his last name) completed the layout of the system PCB. Steve didn't like it (wasn't aethetically pleasing to him, I guess) and he described in some detail how he would like the board to be laid out. This included placement of the processor and (in particular) the placement and distance apart of the RAM chips. Remember, this was a PCB destined for a closed system that required non-standard tools to open the case, so it was never intended to be seen by customers. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the RAM became less stable when placed as Steve directed, and about six weeks was wasted trying to make the new board work on margins. Eventually one of the hardware engineers convinced him of the folly of visual aethetics in PCB design.

    I guess Steve's reality distortion field didn't work on RAM chips.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:28AM (#13913243)
    Firstly, I think that MS needs Apple more than Apple "needs" MS.

    Microsoft is selling the idea to the world that it is not a Monopoly which should be broken up. Microsoft points to Apple, Netscape and Real as proof that there isn't a monopoly in Desktops, Browsers and Streaming Media.

    Should Apple go away, that arguement is harder for Microsoft to make.

    Secondly, Mac users, don't all become RDF Zombies. I use Macs and Windows boxes, I've supported Macs from System 7.0 to 10.4 and Windows from 3.11 to XP. I've seen all the problems, I've fixed all the problems. I use a Macintosh because I can run a server that doesn't need rebooting every week and a desktop that is rock stable. Windows at this point isn't as good of an option for me, takes too much crap to keep it running.
  • Re:Not really, no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The_Dougster ( 308194 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:28AM (#13913244) Homepage
    He can make Apple's zealots believe pretty much anything, not me. The fact the Linux share on the desktop now accedes Apple's pretty much confirms that I am not alone in this regard. Apple's slogan really should be "Suckers wanted!"

    I think that's a bit harsh. Yes, Apple has made some dog-turd computers here and there, but even a lemon Mac II is pretty much a joy to use compared to a brain dead Windows PC.

    I've never been able to afford a cutting edge Apple computer, heck, I have to make my own PC's out of Ebay parts and then slap Linux and some dated version of Windows on it. Forget Office, I praise my lucky stars for OOo.

    I have bought a couple old cheapo Mac II's on Ebay though and played with them. They run well for what they are. I wouldn't mind having a nice Apple workstation going with OS/X at all. My only problem is that as an engineer, I need CAD, and cheap CAD at that. I'm not doing bad with TurboCAD, but I don't know what I could use on OS/X for 3D drafting that would even be in the same ball park.

    I can live without Windows games, but I absolutely need a good CAD package. I don't have thousands of dollars to shell out either, so it has to be cheap and good.

    I think Apple stuff is really cool, but it is so far beyond my budget that its basically impossible that I could ever afford to set up a Mac the way I need a computer to be. I'm like how Linus used to be, I can't afford the real thing so I have to make do the best I can with what I can afford.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:31AM (#13913252)
    Well, here's the problem. The Mac, and the entire Apple experience, is intuitive for a certain kind of person. Artists, fashion mavens, leftists, and other creative personalities can sit in front of a 12-inch PowerBook and just "get it," but accountants and everyday pencil-pushers don't have a prayer. Unattractive squares should stick to Linux and Windows. Macs are for different thinkers.

    Evidence? jpg [] *NEW!* jpg [] *NEW!* .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] pg [] g [] .jpg [] pg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg [] .jpg []

    Versus: [] boothsized0hs.jpg []
  • Re:All hail the Jobs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:44AM (#13913288)
    I don't give a damn how much money someone has. I give a damn about what they do. If you had a billion dollar and did nothing useful benefiting others in some way, you would just be a rich self-righteous asshole. I guess all you are missing now/is the money eh?

    People like Steve Jobs are driven by ambition. They don't give a damn if everyone likes them. Business is not a personal popularity contest. If this guy is able to inspire people to do their best work creating products people enjoy using, then he is newsworthy.

    I guess you could compare Steve Jobs to Howard Hughes. Jobs seems to be obsessed with his ideal of perfection, taking risks and pushing the envelope of innovation. That sounds an awful lot like Mr. Hughes drive to make colossal movies and develop a transatlantic airline.

  • Full of Shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by David Off ( 101038 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:59AM (#13913330) Homepage
    Back around the Gulf war Cringely made another observation about the duo which I like. He said Gates was like the Sultan of Kuwait, not wanting the boat rocked and milking the profits from his empire. Jobs was like Hussein, firing his revolver in the air in front of a crowd of fanatics and telling the rest of the world that they are "full of shit".

    If you want a very good book about Apple [] up to the time of Sculley and Jobs' early years try to get hold of The Journey is the Reward [] by Jeffery Young. West of Eden, the End of Innocence at Apple Computer [] by Frank Rose is also another good book at this time. Oh, and if you want a laff read Sculley's book Odyssey [] - a more talentless f*ck and bigger blowhard you could not wish to hire to ruin your business, the guy obviously only made it by marrying the boss's daughter. Sculley is all that is wrong with corporate America. The book must rank with "The Road Ahead" as the deranged ramblings of someone who just didn't get it. :-)

  • More Insight (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brainix ( 748988 ) <> on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:49AM (#13913419) Homepage
    For more insight into Steve Jobs, click here [].

    Also, the following quotes are spoken by Steve Jobs' character in the movie Pirates of the Silicon Valley []. Steve Wozniak has verified [] the movie as accurate.

    • Information is power.
    • It's better to be a pirate than to join the navy.
    • 90 hours per week and loving it.
    • Real artists ship.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:04AM (#13913467)
    i watched him park in the FIRE zone in front with his car a year back. he then walked swiftly into the building avoiding eye contact with everyone, including while inside. (no way to chat with him that way i suspect).

    BTW : though he parks in the fire lane at times, and ALWAYS drives in the commuter-car-pool lane on the highway on the way to work (illegally), he personally drops off his kids at school in his car and not the maids. HE him HIMSELF really!!!!! (on the way to work).

    Steve jobs is right most of the time... though arrogant I suspect.
  • Uses Pixar as leverage is diabolically clever.

    But Microsoft using it's market share as leverage against South Korea is evil?

    Oh, wait. I forgot we were talking about Apple. Steve Jobs could kidnap and use Eisner's grandbabies as leverage against Disney and it would still be "diabolically clever".
  • by DLWormwood ( 154934 ) <`moc.em' `ta' `doowmrow'> on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:29AM (#13913534) Homepage
    somehow they Mac-juju didn't stick to them permanently (if it ever did). I just assumed they'd all drunk Steve Job's Kool Aid.

    If you read the article or read some of the other threads here, you'd see reference to the fact that Steve's "reality distortion field" quickly wears off when he stops talking.

    For the record, I love the Mac platform not because of Apple, but in spite of them. When I first got exposed to HyperCard and QuickDraw/QuickTime and the OS's prior lack of command line, the OS seems like the "OS of tommorow" to me. OS X's embracing of various UNIX and Windows technologies feels to me like going back to "primative times" to me; I'm really surprised by the cultural inertia of the command line and the flat file system. It feels like that I'm dealing with things that I'd thought I'd left behind after using TRS-80's, TI-99/4a's, and VAXen in my distant past...

    I'm surprised that they've still got the resource stuff in there -- in the form of "/rsrc". But I guess you can't break all the old apps that need it.

    Besides the "rsrc" path extension trick, Apple introduced the "file package" concept where a directory of files is presented to the end user as a single "file" in the Finder. Such a package can store Carbon accessable resource data as flat files easily portable to Unix/Windows systems, although they still need special treatment to read the specially formatted data within. Also, when saving Mac files on non-HFS systems, the Mac OS will create "dot underscore" files next to the original data files. This behavior drives many server admins nuts, I've been told.

    it is interesting to hear your take on Quicktime.

    My take's unusual because I've rarely used QT for it's "intended purpose." QuickTime is a "layer," not a "player." It's a comprehensive API and set of routines for processing media (time-based, static, and even algorithmic like sprites and MIDI) related metadata and processing. Its design intention is more encompansing of functionality than Windows Media or Real. It also, sadly, a much older procedural API, so it doesn't mesh well with Cocoa development and can feel backwords when trying to use QuickTime within a modern OOP development environment. With the fading away of multimedia CDs and what not, iTunes and the iPod are the only thing keeping QT in widespread use.

    That said, my perpective may be a little off from consensus; I wasn't using them when the Macs were first released (those TRS-80's remember? (-;). You might get a better insight into what made the Mac and its surrounding culture so facinating by visiting the quasi-blog site called []; lots of Mac development information straight from the developer's keyboards.

  • by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:38AM (#13913551) Homepage
    Jobs was not a visionary ... It is really nice that he gave an interview in 96 sayying that the internet was going to be huge, but then again by '96 every single college kid had an internet connection, and would have said the same thing. Even gates had amended his "road ahead" book to include a chapter about the internet by that time.

    Steve Jobs was known to have an internet connection va T1 to his home around 1992. He used it to access machines/files/email at NeXT and later to surf the web with OmniWeb. He mentioned this in several interviews and explained how he enjoyed experimenting with the kind of bandwidth that would soon be available to average consumers. There are even a few stories of how NeXT engineers would have to log into Steve's home NeXTstation to troubleshoot for him! :)
  • by jeffehobbs ( 419930 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @07:45AM (#13913921) Homepage
    Diabolical is not a compliment.

    However, when paired with the phrase "clever", it actually is. Context is really very important.

  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:01AM (#13914205)
    1. Pixar Image Computer [] -- probably where he got the idea
    2. Next Cube []
    3. Macintosh cube []
    4. ....
    5. Profit??? -- actually not. None of these cubes did that well in the market.

    I'm just waiting for an iPod cube.

  • by aluminumcube ( 542280 ) * <greg@elysion.cTWAINom minus author> on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:02AM (#13914206)
    I grew up in Atherton California which is one of the towns in the area where Steve and Larry Ellison pal around. Apparently Steve's favorite sushi restaurant was this tiny place in Menlo Park (Toshi's... now called Koma) which I happened to go to one night for my birthday. Sure enough, parked just around the corner from the entrance were two silver Mercedes AMG S class sedans parked right smack in the fire lane and inside, Steve and Larry were having dinner.

    It sort of pissed me off until I realized that, together, they oversee the employment of something like 40,000 people in the Valley. I guess a couple of perks are in order.
  • Changing the World (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deinhard ( 644412 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @11:03AM (#13914984)
    It's interesting that Jobs says "[t]his stuff doesn't change the world" when (right or wrong) the quote "[d]o you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" is attributed to him as part of his offer to get John Sculley to join Apple from Pepsi.
  • B I C Y C L E ! ! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by johnrpenner ( 40054 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:19PM (#13917163) Homepage

    so what to get the man who has everything...
    what to get steve jobs -- the father of the ipod...!?!?

    | So then finally, what is the last piece of technology that
    | he [Steve Jobs] acquired - not made by Apple - that really
    | delighted him? He pauses for long seconds, looks down,
    | puts his hands on his knees, looks away.
    | (Steve Jobs: The Guru Behind Apple, Charles Arthur; October 29, 2005)" []

  • by randyflood ( 183756 ) on Tuesday November 01, 2005 @01:01PM (#13924316) Homepage Journal

    Well, actually the resource fork was incredibly useful in the Macintosh Applications at the time. Remember that because all of the graphics, text strings, etc were in the resource fork of the application, most applications did not require an installer at all. You simply copied the application somewhere and ran it. To uninstall it, you just deleted it. That is pretty nice compared to having to have the mishmash of package managers and then other programs that install themselves without package managers and strew their files throughout your file system, made obscure changes to text files, etc.

    Also, if you wanted to take an application and translate it to another language, for example, you could easily open it with a resource editor, like Resedit, and just edit the strings. You would just Put in the translated stings for the new language. Now you have a new version of your application for a new language. Likewise, you could easily replace all of the pictures, sounds, etc that an application used. All of this could be done without recompiling the application, and using a standard GUI based tool.

    Whether or not the way they implemented the resource fork was the best possible way to go about it, I think storing it in the same file, in a standardized format, was a good design decision at the time for the reasons stated above. Now, as applications have become more complex, and are probably not going to be contained in a single executable anymore, and are likely going to have an installer, and an uninstaller, it would be nice to have a separate file containing all of the same information that was in the resouce fork of the application.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.