Turbulences in the early 1980s

Turbulences in the early 1980s

The successful stock sale provided Apple with an "extravagant amount of capital ($1 billion)," which could be spent on developing the "company's next computer generation.") This time, however, was quite turbulent for Apple and was marked by crises and inn er power struggles.

Designing on Apple III began in 1978. This computer was to be the successor to Wozniak's Apple II, and was finally introduced to the public in 1981. But it was not successful - a "disaster" or "fiasco,") since it had too many faults and did not work prope rly. Nevertheless, the company was without any financial troubles, since sales of the Apple II continued to increase rapidly.

Concurrently, Steve Jobs became the company's visionary and thought about the next computer generation. Such a visionary is a "person who has both the vision and the willingness to put everything on the line, including his career, to further that vision." ) Jobs became a perfect visionary and convinced everyone around him with his vision.

In 1979, he and some other Apple employees visited the Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Centre), which was known for its advanced research in computing. What they saw was revolutionary and had never appeared on any personal computer before. The "environment of the screen was graphically based" with icons (representing files or programs), with a mouse for pointing and moving at them, windows and pull-down menus. Thus, the user could "interact easily with the computer [...] without ever typing a single letter." )

Jobs was quite impressed and wanted to transfer this concept on a new PC called Lisa, which was intended for the business world. Steve, however, came up with ever new ideas for the designers of this project. He "created chaos because he would get an idea, start a project, then change his mind two or three times, until people were doing a kind of random walk, continually scrapping and starting over.")

Markkula and Scott were concerned about the further progress of Lisa. So, in the course of a reorganization of the company, they decided to put John Couch, a former software designer at HP, in a charge of the Lisa project. Jobs was made chairman of the boa rd to represent Apple in the public. However, Steve was shocked that he was taken the chance to fulfill his vision, and relations between him and Scott deteriorated.

In February 1981, Wozniak, the technological brains behind the Apple I and II, crashed his four-seater airplane. He hit his head badly and suffered from a case of temporary amnesia. For some time, he retired from the company and he finished his undergradua te degree at U.C. Berkeley.

The company had grown rapidly to 2,000 employees, and some of them had joined Apple in the hope of a safe job. Setting an example, president Mike Scott laid off 42 people on a day which came to be called "Black Wednesday". Apple was shocked since some of t hose people seemed to have been chosen arbitrarily. Scott's management style became more and more disliked, and finally Mike Markkula decided to fire Scott and took over his position until a new president was found.

Martin Groeger http://www.silicon-valley-story.de
Last modified: Mon Jul 8 05:44:26 PDT