Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Inspiring Novel > Steve Jobs: A Biography > CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN THE iMAC
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN THE iMAC
Hello (Again)







Back to the Future

The first great design triumph to come from the Jobs-Ive collaboration was the iMac, a desktop computer aimed at the home consumer market that was introduced in May 1998. Jobs had certain specifications. It should be an all-in-one product, with keyboard and monitor and computer ready to use right out of the box. It should have a distinctive design that made a brand statement. And it should sell for $1,200 or so. (Apple had no computer selling for less than $2,000 at the time.) “He told us to go back to the roots of the original 1984 Macintosh, an all-in-one consumer appliance,” recalled Schiller. “That meant design and engineering had to work together.”

The initial plan was to build a “network computer,” a concept championed by Oracle’s Larry Ellison, which was an inexpensive terminal without a hard drive that would mainly be used to connect to the Internet and other networks. But Apple’s chief financial officer Fred Anderson led the push to make the product more robust by adding a disk drive so it could become a full-fledged desktop computer for the home. Jobs eventually agreed.

Jon Rubinstein, who was in charge of hardware, adapted the microprocessor and guts of the PowerMac G3, Apple’s high-end professional computer, for use in the proposed new machine. It would have a hard drive and a tray for compact disks, but in a rather bold move, Jobs and Rubinstein decided not to include the usual floppy disk drive. Jobs quoted the hockey star Wayne Gretzky’s maxim, “Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.” He was a bit ahead of his time, but eventually most computers eliminated floppy disks.

Ive and his top deputy, Danny Coster, began to sketch out futuristic designs. Jobs brusquely rejected the dozen foam models they initially produced, but Ive knew how to guide him gently. Ive agreed that none of them was quite right, but he pointed out one that had promise. It was curved, playful looking, and did not seem like an unmovable slab rooted to the table. “It has a sense that it’s just arrived on your desktop or it’s just about to hop off and go somewhere,” he told Jobs.

By the next showing Ive had refined the playful model. This time Jobs, with his binary view of the world, raved that he loved it. He took the foam prototype and began carrying it around the headquarters with him, showing it in confidence to trusted lieutenants and board members. In its ads Apple was celebrating the glories of being able to think different, yet until now nothing had been proposed that was much different from existing computers. Finally, Jobs had something new.

The plastic casing that Ive and Coster proposed was sea-green blue, later named bondi blue after the color of the water at a beach in Australia, and it was translucent so that you could see through to the inside of the machine. “We were trying to convey a sense of the computer being changeable based on your needs, to be like a chameleon,” said Ive. “That’s why we liked the translucency. You could have color but it felt so unstatic. And it came across as cheeky.”

Both metaphorically and in reality, the translucency connected the inner engineering of the computer to the outer design. Jobs had always insisted that the rows of chips on the circuit boards look neat, even though they would never be seen. Now they would be seen. The casing would make visible the care that had gone into making all components of the computer and fitting them together. The playful design would convey simplicity while also revealing the depths that true simplicity entails.

Even the simplicity of the plastic shell itself involved great complexity. Ive and his team worked with Apple’s Korean manufacturers to perfect the process of making the cases, and they even went to a jelly bean factory to study how to make translucent colors look enticing. The cost of each case was more than $60 per unit, three times that of a regular computer case. Other companies would probably have demanded presentations and studies to show whether the translucent case would increase sales enough to justify the extra cost. Jobs asked for no such analysis.

Topping off the design was the handle nestled into the iMac. It was more playful and semiotic than it was functional. This was a desktop computer; not many people were really going to carry it around. But as Ive later explained:

Back then, people weren’t comfortable with technology. If you’re scared of something, then you won’t touch it. I could see my mum being scared to touch it. So I thought, if there’s this handle on it, it makes a relationship possible. It’s approachable. It’s intuitive. It gives you permission to touch. It gives a sense of its deference to you. Unfortunately, manufacturing a recessed handle costs a lot of money. At the old Apple, I would have lost the argument. What was really great about Steve is that he saw it and said, “That’s cool!” I didn’t explain all the thinking, but he intuitively got it. He just knew that it was part of the iMac’s friendliness and playfulness.



Jobs had to fend off the objections of the manufacturing engineers, supported by Rubinstein, who tended to raise practical cost considerations when faced with Ive’s aesthetic desires and various design whims. “When we took it to the engineers,” Jobs said, “they came up with thirty-eight reasons they couldn’t do it. And I said, ‘No, no, we’re doing this.’ And they said, ‘Well, why?’ And I said, ‘Because I’m the CEO, and I think it can be done.’ And so they kind of grudgingly did it.”

Jobs asked Lee Clow and Ken Segall and others from the TBWAChiatDay ad team to fly up to see what he had in the works. He brought them into the guarded design studio and dramatically unveiled Ive’s translucent teardrop-shaped design, which looked like something from The Jetsons, the animated TV show set in the future. For a moment they were taken aback. “We were pretty shocked, but we couldn’t be frank,” Segall recalled. “We were really thinking, ‘Jesus, do they know what they are doing?’ It was so radical.” Jobs asked them to suggest names. Segall came back with five options, one of them “iMac.” Jobs didn’t like any of them at first, so Segall came up with another list a week later, but he said that the agency still preferred “iMac.” Jobs replied, “I don’t hate it this week, but I still don’t like it.” He tried silk-screening it on some of the prototypes, and the name grew on him. And thus it became the iMac.

As the deadline for completing the iMac drew near, Jobs’s legendary temper reappeared in force, especially when he was confronting manufacturing issues. At one product review meeting, he learned that the process was going slowly. “He did one of his displays of awesome fury, and the fury was absolutely pure,” recalled Ive. He went around the table assailing everyone, starting with Rubinstein. “You know we’re trying to save the company here,” he shouted, “and you guys are screwing it up!”

Like the original Macintosh team, the iMac crew staggered to completion just in time for the big announcement. But not before Jobs had one last explosion. When it came time to rehearse for the launch presentation, Rubinstein cobbled together two working prototypes. Jobs had not seen the final product before, and when he looked at it onstage he saw a button on the front, under the display. He pushed it and the CD tray opened. “What the fuck is this?!?” he asked, though not as politely. “None of us said anything,” Schiller recalled, “because he obviously knew what a CD tray was.” So Jobs continued to rail. It was supposed to have a clean CD slot, he insisted, referring to the elegant slot drives that were already to be found in upscale cars. “Steve, this is exactly the drive I showed you when we talked about the components,” Rubinstein explained. “No, there was never a tray, just a slot,” Jobs insisted. Rubinstein didn’t back down. Jobs’s fury didn’t abate. “I almost started crying, because it was too late to do anything about it,” Jobs later recalled.

They suspended the rehearsal, and for a while it seemed as if Jobs might cancel the entire product launch. “Ruby looked at me as if to say, ‘Am I crazy?’” Schiller recalled. “It was my first product launch with Steve and the first time I saw his mind-set of ‘If it’s not right we’re not launching it.’” Finally, they agreed to replace the tray with a slot drive for the next version of the iMac. “I’m only going to go ahead with the launch if you promise we’re going to go to slot mode as soon as possible,” Jobs said tearfully.

There was also a problem with the video he planned to show. In it, Jony Ive is shown describing his design thinking and asking, “What computer would the Jetsons have had? It was like, the future yesterday.” At that moment there was a two-second snippet from the cartoon show, showing Jane Jetson looking at a video screen, followed by another two-second clip of the Jetsons giggling by a Christmas tree. At a rehearsal a production assistant told Jobs they would have to remove the clips because Hanna-Barbera had not given permission to use them. “Keep it in,” Jobs barked at him. The assistant explained that there were rules against that. “I don’t care,” Jobs said. “We’re using it.” The clip stayed in.

Lee Clow was preparing a series of colorful magazine ads, and when he sent Jobs the page proofs he got an outraged phone call in response. The blue in the ad, Jobs insisted, was different from that of the iMac. “You guys don’t know what you’re doing............
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