During a commencement speech at Tulane this morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave graduates a new twist on the old adage about finding a job you love. He also talked about Apple’s vision to “move humanity forward.”
This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on Apple’s manufacturing operations.
This is Part 2 of a two-part section on Apple’s misadventures in manufacturing. Part I is here.
Steve Jobs carried his dream of end-to-end control over manufacturing to NeXT, the company that Jobs founded after being booted out of Apple in 1985. It was here that he learned a tough lesson about manufacturing: that sometimes it’s more trouble than it is worth. Or, perhaps more kindly, that great manufacturing capabilities mean nothing if you don’t have a product people want to buy.
Steve Jobs always had a deep fascination with automated factories. He was first exposed to them during a trip to Japan in 1983. At the time, Apple had just created a new floppy disk drive called Twiggy. During a visit to Apple’s factory in San Jose, however, Jobs became irate when he discovered the high failure rate of Twiggy drives Apple was producing. More than half of them were rejected. Jobs threatened to fire everyone who worked at the factory
November 9, 1994: Gil Amelio, a businessman with a reputation as a talented turnaround artist, joins Apple’s board.
Coming off his impressive revitalization of National Semiconductor and Rockwell International, Amelio’s appointment at Apple sparks widespread celebration. Many Apple watchers think his arrival means the company’s dark days are over.
Sadly, Amelio’s turnaround tricks won’t work in Cupertino.
October 19, 1992: Apple launches the Mac IIvx, the first Macintosh computer to ship with a metal case and, more importantly, an internal CD-ROM drive.
The last of the Macintosh II series, the Mac IIvx experiences one of the more notorious price adjustments in Apple history. Within five months of shipping, Apple slashes the computer’s launch price of $2,949 to $1,899. That’s one way to reward early adopters!
October 14, 2005: Tim Cook takes the reins as Apple’s chief operating officer, continuing an upward climb through the company’s ranks that will make him CEO less than six years later.
“Tim and I have worked together for over seven years now, and I am looking forward to working even more closely with him to help Apple reach some exciting goals during the coming years,” Steve Jobs says in a statement.