The Apple Macintosh had not been a success from the outset. The hardware was not designed particularly generously for the requirements of a graphical user interface. Especially the main memory had been calculated rather tightly. Moreover, there was no hard disk for the Mac at that time. In addition, there was a lack of appropriate software.
The Mac lacked the applications that dragged the Charlie Chaplin figure across the screen box by box in the IBM’s advertising spot for the PC. Therefore, Guy Kawasaki and other “Software Evangelists” of Apple made an effort to convince the developers of other software companies to write programs for the Mac. The Mac’s ROM, which had been calculated far too narrowly at 128 kilobytes, did not make this a simple task. Not until the “Fat Mac” with 512 kilobytes was launched one year after the first Macintosh had this narrow bottleneck been removed.
The problem came to a head when by the beginning of 1985, the Macs that had not found purchasers during the Christmas sales of 1984 were piling up in storage. Apple had to publish the first quarterly loss in the company’s history and release a fifth of the staff. During a marathon meeting on April 10 and 11, 1985, Apple’s CEO John Sculley demanded to have Steve Jobs relieved of his position as an Apple vice president and general manager of the Macintosh department.According to Sculley’s wishes, Steve Jobs was to represent the company externally as a new Apple chairman without influencing the core business. As Jobs got wind of these plans to deprive him of his power, he tried to arrange a coup against Sculley on the Apple board. Sculley told the board: “I’m asking Steve to step down and you can back me on it and then I take responsibility for running the company, or we can do nothing and you’re going to find yourselves a new CEO.” The majority of the board backed the ex-Pepsi man and turned away from Steve Jobs.
On May 31, 1985, Jobs lost his responsibilities and was shuffled off to the chairman position. In September, the Apple co-founder left the company with a few people in order to found NeXT Computer. “I feel like somebody just punched me in the stomach and knocked all my wind out. I’m only 30 years old and I want to have a chance to continue creating things. I know I’ve got at least one more great computer in me. And Apple is not going to give me a chance to do that,” Jobs wrote to Mike Markkula on parting. Ten years later, Steve Jobs also commented on his disempowerment with bitterness in the TV documentary “Nerds in the Valley” (1996): Jobs:
What can I say? I hired the wrong guy. – Question: That was Sculley?
Jobs: Yeah and he destroyed everything I spent ten years working for. Starting with me but that wasn’t the saddest part. I would have gladly left Apple if Apple would have turned out like I wanted it to.
Apple’s Heart and Soul
Andy Hertzfeld, one of the Macintosh’s fathers, later recalled the events:
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