|★ PEOPLES ★ STEVEN JOBS (1984) ★|
|Steve Jobs - 1984||Steve Wozniak - 1984|
STEVEN JOBS, along with a partner, founded Apple Computer ten years ago. Today he's worth a quarter of a billion dollars. PAUL WALTON spoke to the Man behind the trail-blazing Macintosh.
STEVE JOBS sold his VW Beetle car and cancelled a visit to India back in '75 to start Apple Computer with his mate, a boffin called Steve Wozniak (featured in April issue of BIG K). It paid off. Apple's now a billion-dollar company and he owns about a quarter of it.
While it was Wozniak's idea to build the Apple II — that's since sold two million around the world — Jobs came up with the next bright idea. He's the man credited with bringing mice cursors, multiple window screens and icons — or visual representations of objects first to the Lisa and now to the cheaper Macintosh.
'I believe in giving people great products as cheaply as possible,' bubbles Jobs, as he outlines the 'goodies'up-and-coming from Apple in the near future. (Seethebox.)
Steve is twenty-eight years old. spends most of his life playing with computers, or improving his tennis. He dropped out of college to trek to India when he was 18 and is a vegetarian. Oh, and by the way, he's worth going on for 250 million dollars!
You've only got to listen to the things he says to know that Steve Jobs doesn't care what people think. Thanks to his success, he doesn't have to ...
IBM want to crush us — they want us dead!
About IBM, his major rivals: 'If it wasn't for us IBM would own all the PC market, though they don't deserve to. IBM just want to crush us — they want us dead!'
On computers generally: 'Most are just a load of junk. The game in computers is now over — software, games and leisure software, business packages, graphics ... that's where it's at today. I wouldn't build an Apple II today. I'd write a neat piece of software.
'We think there have been two standards in our industry — and that's all. The Apple II in '77 and the IBM PC in '81. The whole industry is converging on those two. We think that the Apple II operating system is a standard. There are more of them out there than any other computer in the world.
'As you know, last year we achieved approximately S1000 million revenue. That was primarily Apple II. But if we're going to be the major contributors in our industry and remain that throughout this decade — which we absolutely want to do — then we'll need $10 billion.
'But we aren't going to sell ten billion dollars worth of Apple lis a year. The next major growth is going to be the Mac and that type of very advanced machine.
LEFT: Macintosh. RIGHT: Jobs. "There's the 68000. There's the memory.
But Jobs doesn't think that most other computer suppliers will be around anyway. He thinks that by next year there'll only be the Apple II or the IBM PC selling in volume for businesses, or for the US home market. And then we'll see the age of the dream machine, like his Mac. which offer something a little different.
Most computers are a load of junk
The end of the PC as we know it. in 1984? 'Sure. Other people just slap together some randon hardware, go buy an operating system from this or that person, languages from that same guy. They get a piece of junk. Which is what everyone's computer is. But IBM's going to kill most everybody out there. Between them and us there won't be anything else to choose from.'
Jobs puts this all down to money — to being able to spend vast sums in developing and building cheap PCs. 'Remember that Apple are a $1000 million corporation — so are IBM — in terms of personal computers. And there are things that mega-corporations can do that other people can't. Like we are spending over $100 million this year on marketing, about $100 million on R&D. As is IBM.
So if we all spend that money wisely how is anybody going to catch up with the Mac or whatever developments IBM has? They're not. So you see both companies are accelerating their investments in those two areas, not pulling back. And all this money, all those PCs already sold, allow Apple and IBM to do something unique.'
SOFTWARE. OR the ability to control its production, 'will be critical in 1984,' says Jobs. 'You have to conceive hundreds of software developers to write for your computers. Now these guys don't have the resources to write software for everybody's machines. So they're going to pick one or two. If they make the wrong decision — they'll be out of business.
So how do they make their decision? One simple criterion —installed base. And maybe not what it is today, but what will it be in a year. It's the only way that they can make money. There are only two computer companies that have installed base, IBM and Apple.'
What does all this mean for games houses? Jobs reckons that it means a choice between the mass-market, and ultimately cheaper name-brand machines which IBM and Apple will flog in the millions. 'Other people aren't going to be able to run the software that's developed for our machines — it'll be very difficult. People don't quite realise it yet. but it's going to be quite apparent this year,' he said.
There isn't much love lost between Apple and IBM. The IBM PC was the fourth personal computer they developed. So if that was the best of four... IBM has never been a product innovator. Their strategy is to corner the marketplace in what they do best — which is service, support and motherhood.
'In the States there's a battle for hearts and mind that's going on between Apple and IBM. They just want to wipe us off the face of the earth. I think that that's not going to happen. They could buy us — but we're not for sale. We've been having too much fun. We're the only ones that are going to survive IBM — I really do think that! They're just going to crush everybody else.'
We're not for sale — we've been having too much fun
So. how does Apple plan to stay ahead? 'We don't design products that market research studies say we should design, that's for sure,' says Jobs. That's ridiculous. That's the IBM way!'
'We said that if we shipped 15,000 Macs in the first 100 days we'd be doing very well. It's been 65 days now— how many Macs do you think we've shipped? We've shipped over 40,000 — it's unbelievable. No computer start-up's ever been like this, ever, ever, ever,' enthused Jobs.
But what's the reception been like in America? And does he use it himself?
My problem is that I have a Mac at home — but I'm never there. You can't sell forty thousand ot something in sixty days without some real use for it. It doesn't happen. We sell 'em $2500 retail, so that's $80 million — over a million dollars a day.'
What Apple did with Macintosh was to build a graphics-based machine cheaply, one which works by moving icons around the screen rather than juggling Basic commands in your headl
Jobs is so proud of his Mac that, half-way through the interview. he whips out the motherboard and gives BIG K a technical, guided tour... This is the complete Macintosh digital section,' he explains. This is the complete 32-bit graphics processing digital computer on one board.
There's the 68000. There's the memory. The video section's over here. This is the 64K bytes of ROM. A lot of custom VLSI is in these ROMs. We also have a custom VLSI Disc Controller chip. This is an incredible serial chip which gives up 2 megabits per second serial channels out of the back. Here's the extra disc port. We have a full serial mouse, and a serial keyboard. We have a clock calendar with parameter memory that is battery backed-up. We have four voice sound and speech built into the product.
'I mean, it's incredible what's on this board. And this is 20 per cent of the parts of an IBM PC. An IBM PC has five times the number of parts and is far less powerful. It does not include many of the features of this board.
'You add up all these things, and the number of companies that can do all of them — or even half of them —isonly one. That's IBM. And the question is, when will they do it? The answer is, I don't know. I think it'll be two or three years away.'