Today in Apple history: John Sculley bids Apple a $10 million farewell

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Former Apple CEO John Sculley talks at Web Summit 2015 in Dublin, Ireland.
After Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, John Sculley is Apple's most memorable CEO.
Photo: Web Summit/Flickr CC

October 15: Today in Apple history October 15, 1993: John Sculley, the CEO responsible for forcing Steve Jobs out of Apple, is forced to leave the company himself.

Following a terrible quarter for Apple, in which the company posted a 97 percent drop in earnings, Sculley steps down as Apple chairman. He takes $1 million in severance pay, a one-year consulting fee of $750,000, a commitment from Apple to buy his $4 million mansion and $2 million Lear jet, and $2.4 million in stock options. Total take: around $10 million.

Selling sugar water, changing the world.

Sculley first joined Apple in May 1983 as its third president and CEO, following Mike Scott and Mike Markkula.

Jobs lured Sculley to the company, using one of the most famous recruitment lines in the history business. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want a chance to change the world?” Jobs asked Sculley.

The idea initially was that Jobs, who was chairman at Apple, would run the company hand-in-hand with Sculley. However, tensions between the two meant that Jobs got forced out of Apple after attempting a boardroom coup in 1985.

Sculley’s tenure at Apple proved mixed. In terms of financials, he increased Apple’s sales from $800 million to $8 billion during his 10-year stint as CEO. During this period, the Apple II and Macintosh computers became Apple’s biggest sellers, with the latter gradually overtaking the former.

John Sculley at Apple: More hits than misses

Often unfairly maligned as more of a “numbers” CEO than a visionary, Sculley laid the groundwork for products that would pay off for Apple in the long run. Many viewed the Newton MessagePad as Sculley’s attempt at a world-changing device like the Mac. It flopped upon release, but proved far ahead of its time in a number of aspects.

Sculley also commissioned an R&D project called the Knowledge Navigator, which predicted the arrival of tools like Siri and the iPad, almost down to the exact month.

On the downside, Sculley missed out on licensing the Macintosh operating system. Plus, he signed an incredibly damaging deal with Bill Gates that paved the way for Microsoft’s 1990s dominance.

Despite all his other Apple achievements, most remember Sculley as the person who kicked Jobs out of Cupertino.

After Sculley announced his departure from Apple, he was replaced by Michael Spindler. Sculley went on to join Spectrum as chairman and CEO.

Do you remember the John Sculley years at Apple? Leave your comments below.

  • bIg hIlL

    @$8million sacking bonus? Not bad for such an illustious career – sacked Steve Jobs, sold off exclusive design aspects of macOS, allowed 3rd parties to install macOS…