Woz’s Cupertino homecoming is revealed at the end of MacWorld. As a result of Steve Jobs’ recent return to Apple, thanks to the NeXT buyout, it is the first time that both Jobs and Woz have been at Apple together since 1983. It’s a great way to mark Apple’s twentieth anniversary. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last.
Bringing the band back together
As I’ve written before in “Today in Apple history,” Woz’s interest in Apple was predominantly around the Apple II and the days before Apple became a giant company. Whereas Jobs pushed for more power after Apple went public in December 1980, Wozniak took the $116 million he made in the IPO and pursued new avenues.
This included everything from pursuing the computer science degree he’d never got, raising kids, promoting a couple of giant music festivals, and more.
By 1997, Woz’s beloved Apple II product line had been out of action for around four years, and the Macintosh had long since taken over. Apple was struggling, but reuniting its two co-founders gave faithful Apple fans something to be optimistic about.
At the time, Jobs had just recently re-joined Apple himself as part of the NeXT acquisition, intended to give Apple a new operating system. Like Woz, Jobs was supposed to be nothing more than an unofficial advisor to CEO Gil Amelio, although he wound up parlaying this into replacing Amelio as CEO.
When Woz and Jobs appeared on-stage at MacWorld, it was just the jolt of life the event needed. Gil Amelio, never a smooth talker, spoke for hours in a rambling, unexciting manner, before finally bringing the co-founders on stage. Jobs, however, spoiled the moment slightly by refusing to fully join in the triumphant scene. “He ruthlessly ruined the closing moment I had planned,” Amelio later complained.
A short-lived return
As that moment suggested, Woz’s return to Apple wasn’t long-lived. Although he was full of ideas for resurrecting Apple (such as seeking to expand its focus on the education market and produce easy-to-use machines), Jobs clearly viewed his own return as a one-man show, rather than as half of a double act.
Once Amelio lost his job in July, Jobs made CFO Fred Anderson call Wozniak and say that he was no longer needed in the advisory role.
While it sounds brutal, it may have been for the best. Not only was Jobs more than capable of turning around Apple with his own ideas, but Woz wasn’t in total agreement with Steve Jobs’ approach. As Woz wrote in his biography about the iMac G3, the computer which helped set Apple back on the path to success:
“To be honest, I was never all that crazy for the iMacs. I had my doubts about its one-piece design. I didn’t care about its colors and I didn’t think its looks were all that good. It turned out I just wasn’t the right customer for it.”
Still, although Wozniak’s return didn’t pan out as many hoped, for those who were watching the MacWorld Expo, it was a moment to be savored!
Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 13:00:58 +0000