April 6, 1939: John Sculley is born in New York City. He will grow up to be hailed as a business and marketing genius, eventually overseeing Apple’s transformation into the most profitable personal computer company in the world.
After a remarkable stint as president of Pepsi-Cola, Sculley will take over as Apple’s third CEO in 1983. He runs Apple for a 10-year period, guiding the creation of the revolutionary Newton MessagePad. During Sculley’s decade at the helm, Apple sells more personal computers than any other company. But most people still remember him for his role in kicking Steve Jobs out of Cupertino.
March 25, 1993: Apple executive Gaston Bastiaens bets a journalist that the eagerly anticipated Newton MessagePad will ship before summer ends. The prize? Bastiaens’ well-stocked personal wine cellar, worth thousands of dollars.
The bet takes place at the CeBit trade show in Hanover, Germany. Bastiaens’ outburst comes in response to a reporter’s needling. The gamble not only gives the Newton a release timetable, but also a price: under $1,000.
February 27, 1998: Apple discontinues work on the Newton MessagePad product line, the series of personal digital assistants the company launched five years earlier.
“This decision is consistent with our strategy to focus all our software development resources on extending the Macintosh operating system,” Steve Jobs says at the time. “To realize our ambitious plans we must focus all of our efforts in one direction.”
Long before Tim Cook brought his operations wizardry to Apple, Del Yocam lent his logistical prowess to Cupertino. Apple’s first chief operating officer, he helped transform the company from a chaotic, scrappy startup into a streamlined manufacturing powerhouse.
He also served as an early mentor to Steve Jobs, the young Apple co-founder who sometimes seemed out of his depth in 1979.
“When I first got to know him, he was lost,” Yocam told Cult of Mac. “He was no longer involved in the Apple II and no one wanted him around, especially management. He didn’t care about money at that time. He was like an orphan, living away from home.”
In many ways, Yocam was the proto-Tim Cook, a manufacturing and operations specialist who helped transform a dysfunctional startup into a massive, moneymaking leader of the early PC industry. He also helped take the rapidly growing company international.
Yocam deserves more credit for helping build Apple than history has so far accorded him. He was one of the main players at a crucial point in Cupertino’s history.
Yocam, now 76, recently talked with Cult of Mac about Apple’s early days. In this exclusive interview, he discusses his friendship and working relationship with Jobs, Apple’s challenging, fascinating, and sometimes malodorous co-founder.
He also reveals new details about Jobs’ tearful ouster from Apple — and how Jobs later offered him an amazing job, only to revoke it at the last moment.
December 4, 1992: Apple engineers demonstrate a “proof of concept” of the Mac operating system running on an Intel computer.
More than a decade before Macs will switch to Intel processors, the astonishing feat is part of an aborted plan to make Apple’s software available on other manufacturer’s hardware. Apple ultimately chickens out, fearing (probably correctly) that this will hurt Macintosh sales.
November 21, 1985: Following Steve Jobs’ departure, Apple comes close to signing its own death warrant by licensing the Macintosh’s look and feel to Microsoft.
The deal, between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple CEO John Sculley, comes hot on the heels of the Windows operating system’s release. The pact gives Microsoft a “non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, nontransferable license to use [parts of the Mac technology] in present and future software programs, and to license them to and through third parties for use in their software programs.”