Apple Survived ’80s Thanks To One Piece of Software, Says Guy Kawasaki

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Author and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki at Ad:Tech
Author and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki at Ad:Tech

SAN FRANCISCO, AD:TECH CONFERENCE: The survival of Apple beyond the 1980s is thanks to one piece of software, says Guy Kawasaki, best-selling author and Apple’s former chief evangelist.

The comment came during a highly entertaining keynote speech at the Ad:Tech conference on Tuesday to promote Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment. The book is a manual of persuasion in the mold of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Make Friends and Influence People.” (I’m reading it and will have a review soon).

According to Kawasaki, the Mac would have died shortly after its introduction in 1984 if it hadn’t been for a single miraculous piece of software: Aldus PageMaker, the original page-layout program.


Kawasaki said the original Mac wasn’t much good for spreadsheets or databases, but was good for designing print publications.

“PageMaker was a bright spot that created this gigantic bright spot — desktop publishing,” he said.

“Desktop publishing — it saved Apple,” Kawasaki continued. “It was a gift from God to save Apple. There is no other explanation for the survival of Apple than it is evidence of a benevolent god.”

This line got a pretty good laugh from the audience of ad industry types — all of whom were touting MacBook Airs or iPads.

Kawasaki also said that the original Mac was a “piece of crap” but it was a “revolutionary piece of crap.”

And that the Mac development team was the greatest collection of egos in one room in the history of Silicon Valley — “and that’s saying a lot.”

The Mac division held this record for 20 years, Kawasaki said, until the title was taken by — wait for it — Google.

Most of Kawasaki’s talk focused on 10 points to enchant people. Enchantment is a higher form of persuasion that involves likability, trustworthiness, and a higher cause.

One of his points was to “sell your dream.” He gave the example of the iPhone, which he said is rightly described as $188 dollars worth of parts, manufactured in a plant where workers tend to commit suicide, and is hitched to a America’s worst cell phone network.

“But this in not how Steve Jobs pitched the iPhone,” he said to a big roar of laughter.

If you get a chance to see Kawasaki speak, I highly recommend it. We’ll post a video if one surfaces. Also check out his book Enchantment (Amazon link): it’s a great and entertaining read so far, and is proving to be full of practical advice.