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I don't think there'd be an Apple.
Why write a book about Apple and the creation of the Mac?
There's been many books about Apple, and typically they're extremely self-serving. They end up promoting the person that wrote the book. (Former Apple CEO John) Scully's book is a great example, but the quintessential example is Gil Amelio's book, in terms of being self-serving. It was almost like an apology.
Are there any other books on the birth of the Mac?
No. Nobody else who was on the team I think has written a book.
Did you take a lot of notes during the creation of the Mac, recording the development?
Yeah, I had my notebooks. When we started doing publicity for the Mac in the fall of 1983, I wrote a little history of what had happened, just like three pages worth of notes at that time, and I hung on to those.
I first had the idea to do the Folklore project in 1996, right after General Magic. At that time, I did a prototype Web site and I wrote down the titles of a hundred stories, so it was a little fresher in my mind because that was eight years ago. But I never pursued it until 2003.
What's been the reaction from people like
How about Jef Raskin?
Jef Raskin is the single individual who disagrees with the way I'm telling the story, and he was unhappy with the book when he first found out about it, and I suspect he's still unhappy now.
Jef does claim he invented certain key concepts when no one else thinks he did. Jef actually was not around for almost the entire time the Mac was developed. He left the day before I started (in 1981). Jef's a tremendous individual and he deserves enormous credit for having the original vision for the Macintosh, starting the project and putting together a dynamite, small team. But then he got at odds with the team and left.
Jef had a lot of ideas about how the Macintosh should be, but they're not in the Macintosh. If you're interested: Jef, because he left early, by 1985 he had already designed and licensed a computer that does embody all his ideas--it's called the Canon Cat.
Then who would you consider the father of the Macintosh?
Steve Jobs is who I would call the father of the Mac. In second place I'd put Burrell Smith and in third place I'd put Bill Atkinson.
What's your response when people say the Mac engineers stole everything from Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center?
I just say, well, someone doesn't know what they're talking about. Maybe in the very broadest sense we were inspired by Xerox. But literally no code was taken, I mean not a single line of code.
Didn't a lot of people join Apple from Xerox?
Just one person on the Mac team, more on the Lisa team--four or five. Many of the ones who came from PARC came after the Mac shipped. Alan Kay, who was the visionary and driving force behind Xerox PARC, came to work at Apple just about the time I was leaving, in March 1984. Once he came there, about 10 PARC people came.
What was the attraction, that Apple could get the technology into the market?
Yeah, sure. The people developing the stuff at Xerox PARC were different types of people. Some were professorial and academic, and they didn't really care if their stuff was used by people. They just wanted to explore new ideas. They were happy there. But the people who wanted to make an impact on the world and improve the lives of their friends and stuff like that, they were very frustrated--nothing ever came out. So they saw Apple come out with something that embodied all of their ideals, but their kid brother could afford it. They were very attracted to that. They came to Apple to make a difference.
How strong was the feeling at the time that you were changing the world?
We had Steve Jobs drumming that into us constantly. You can say it, but a lot of times such a thing could be hype. In fact, most of the time, to say, "You're going to change the world; you're going to make a momentous difference," well, you know...The Mac engineers were smart and a bit cynical of being manipulated by Steve. Once you get manipulated seven times, the eighth time you're a little wary. But we believed it to a large degree.
There were moments when I thought we wouldn't pull it off. But I used to work late at night and I remember, like in 1982, walking out late at night, say 11 p.m., looking up at the sky and thinking, "Boy, I'm right in the middle of doing something that's going to really matter." We loved the romance of personal computers. Many of us were Apple II fanatics, and we saw what was missing in the Apple II was the usability for ordinary people. So we thought we could combine the affordability of the Apple II with something really, really usable for
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