Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Inspiring Novel > Steve Jobs: A Biography > CHAPTER TEN THE MAC IS BORN
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
CHAPTER TEN THE MAC IS BORN
You Say You Want a Revolution







Jobs in 1982



Jef Raskin’s Baby

Jef Raskin was the type of character who could enthrall Steve Jobs—or annoy him. As it turned out, he did both. A philosophical guy who could be both playful and ponderous, Raskin had studied computer science, taught music and visual arts, conducted a chamber opera company, and organized guerrilla theater. His 1967 doctoral thesis at U.C. San Diego argued that computers should have graphical rather than text-based interfaces. When he got fed up with teaching, he rented a hot air balloon, flew over the chancellor’s house, and shouted down his decision to quit.

When Jobs was looking for someone to write a manual for the Apple II in 1976, he called Raskin, who had his own little consulting firm. Raskin went to the garage, saw Wozniak beavering away at a workbench, and was convinced by Jobs to write the manual for $50. Eventually he became the manager of Apple’s publications department. One of Raskin’s dreams was to build an inexpensive computer for the masses, and in 1979 he convinced Mike Markkula to put him in charge of a small development project code-named “Annie” to do just that. Since Raskin thought it was sexist to name computers after women, he redubbed the project in honor of his favorite type of apple, the McIntosh. But he changed the spelling in order not to conflict with the name of the audio equipment maker McIntosh Laboratory. The proposed computer became known as the Macintosh.

Raskin envisioned a machine that would sell for $1,000 and be a simple appliance, with screen and keyboard and computer all in one unit. To keep the cost down, he proposed a tiny five-inch screen and a very cheap (and underpowered) microprocessor, the Motorola 6809. Raskin fancied himself a philosopher, and he wrote his thoughts in an ever-expanding notebook that he called “The Book of Macintosh.” He also issued occasional manifestos. One of these was called “Computers by the Millions,” and it began with an aspiration: “If personal computers are to be truly personal, it will have to be as likely as not that a family, picked at random, will own one.”

Throughout 1979 and early 1980 the Macintosh project led a tenuous existence. Every few months it would almost get killed off, but each time Raskin managed to cajole Markkula into granting clemency. It had a research team of only four engineers located in the original Apple office space next to the Good Earth restaurant, a few blocks from the company’s new main building. The work space was filled with enough toys and radio-controlled model airplanes (Raskin’s passion) to make it look like a day care center for geeks. Every now and then work would cease for a loosely organized game of Nerf ball tag. Andy Hertzfeld recalled, “This inspired everyone to surround their work area with barricades made out of cardboard, to provide cover during the game, making part of the office look like a cardboard maze.”

The star of the team was a blond, cherubic, and psychologically intense self-taught young engineer named Burrell Smith, who worshipped the code work of Wozniak and tried to pull off similar dazzling feats. Atkinson discovered Smith working in Apple’s service department and, amazed at his ability to improvise fixes, recommended him to Raskin. Smith would later succumb to schizophrenia, but in the early 1980s he was able to channel his manic intensity into weeklong binges of engineering brilliance.

Jobs was enthralled by Raskin’s vision, but not by his willingness to make compromises to keep down the cost. At one point in the fall of 1979 Jobs told him instead to focus on building what he repeatedly called an “insanely great” product. “Don’t worry about price, just specify the computer’s abilities,” Jobs told him. Raskin responded with a sarcastic memo. It spelled out everything you would want in the proposed computer: a high-resolution color display, a printer that worked without a ribbon and could produce graphics in color at a page per second, unlimited access to the ARPA net, and the capability to recognize speech and synthesize music, “even simulate Caruso singing with the Mormon tabernacle choir, with variable reverberation.” The memo concluded, “Starting with the abilities desired is nonsense. We must start both with a price goal, and a set of abilities, and keep an eye on today’s and the immediate future’s technology.” In other words, Raskin had little patience for Jobs’s belief that you could distort reality if you had enough passion for your product.

Thus they were destined to clash, especially after Jobs was ejected from the Lisa project in September 1980 and began casting around for someplace else to make his mark. It was inevitable that his gaze would fall on the Macintosh project. Raskin’s manifestos about an inexpensive machine for the masses, with a simple graphic interface and clean design, stirred his soul. And it was also inevitable that once Jobs set his sights on the Macintosh project, Raskin’s days were numbered. “Steve started acting on what he thought we should do, Jef started brooding, and it instantly was clear what the outcome would be,” recalled Joanna Hoffman, a member of the Mac team.

The first conflict was over Raskin’s devotion to the underpowered Motorola 6809 microprocessor. Once again it was a clash between Raskin’s desire to keep the Mac’s price under $1,000 and Jobs’s determination to build an insanely great machine. So Jobs began pushing for the Mac to switch to the more powerful Motorola 68000, which is what the Lisa was using. Just before Christmas 1980, he challenged Burrell Smith, without telling Raskin, to make a redesigned prototype that used the more powerful chip. As his hero Wozniak would have done, Smith threw himself into the task around the clock, working nonstop for three weeks and employing all sorts of breathtaking programming leaps. When he succeeded, Jobs was able to force the switch to the Motorola 68000, and Raskin had to brood and recalculate the cost of the Mac.

There was something larger at stake. The cheaper microprocessor that Raskin wanted would not have been able to accommodate all of the gee-whiz graphics—windows, menus, mouse, and so on—that the team had seen on the Xerox PARC visits. Raskin had convinced everyone to go to Xerox PARC, and he liked the idea of a bitmapped display and windows, but he was not as charmed by all the cute graphics and icons, and he absolutely detested the idea of using a point-and-click mouse rather than the keyboard. “Some of the people on the project became enamored of the quest to do everything with the mouse,” he later groused. “Another example is the absurd application of icons. An icon is a symbol equally incomprehensible in all human languages. There’s a reason why humans invented phonetic languages.”

Raskin’s former student Bill Atkinson sided with Jobs. They both wanted a powerful processor that could support whizzier graphics and the use of a mouse. “Steve had to take the project away from Jef,” Atkinson said. “Jef was pretty firm and stubborn, and Steve was right to take it over. The world got a better result.”

The disagreements were more than just philosophical; they became clashes of personality. “I think that he likes people to jump when he says jump,” Raskin once said. “I felt that he was untrustworthy, and that he does not take kindly to being found wanting. He doesn’t seem to like people who see him without a halo.” Jobs was equally dismissive of Raskin. “Jef was really pompous,” he said. “He didn’t know much about interfaces. So I decided to nab some of his people who were really good, like Atkinson, bring in some of my own, take the thing over and build a less expensive Lisa, not some piece of junk.”

Some on the team found Jobs impossible to work with. “Jobs seems to introduce tension, politics, and hassles rather than enjoying a buffer from those distractions,” one engineer wrote in a memo to Raskin in December 1980. “I thoroughly enjoy talking with him, and I admire his ideas, practical perspective, and energy. But I just don’t feel that he provides the trusting, supportive, relaxed environment that I need.”

But many others realized that despite his temperamental failings, Jobs had the charisma and corporate clout that would lead them to “make a dent in the universe.” Jobs told the staff that Raskin was just a dreamer, whereas he was a doer and would get the Mac done in a year. It was clear he wanted vindication for having been ousted from the Lisa group, and he was energized by competition. He publicly bet John Couch $5,000 that the Mac would ship before the Lisa. “We can make a computer that’s cheaper and better than the Lisa, and get it out first,” he told the team.
<............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading
   
 

Login into Your Account

Email: 
Password: 
  Remember me on this computer.
Tools

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2014 wenovel.com, All Rights Reserved