Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • Part 6: I told the show organizer to wait, not let people in at 1:00 as planned, but to give us a few more minutes. No matter who demoed in place of Steve, this was going to be a crushing disappointment. Nobody that I've heard of has ever been able to demo like him. And he was still a celebrity then.

      At something like 7 minutes after 1:00, we let them in. The show organizer had been right: people were lined up around the block and we couldn't take them all. They were rabid Steve fans. As I watched that audience pour in and thought about breaking the news that Steve wasn't able to do the demo, I wanted to vomit.

      But somehow I glanced behind the curtain where Steve would have entered and there he was. He smiled and I didn't have to say anything except "ready?" He nodded.

      He took the stage and I took a reserved seat on the front row. I was pretty much shaking, my hands were clammy, and I felt sick. I was worried about his machine crashing, worried about apps that weren't fully baked, worried about hecklers.

      And then Steve showed why he was Steve Jobs. He had the crowd adoring everything he said, even though I knew where the exaggerations were.

      30 minutes in, he looked at me and gave one of his mischievous smiles we all miss so much, then looked at the crowd and asked, "Who wants to see the most revolutionary spreadsheet ever developed?!" 4,000 hands immediately went up high. Steve looked back at me with a big grin.

    • Peter Drucker, the famed business book author, gave the advice that you should always hire for strengths, not absence of weakness. Steve had so many weaknesses. Sometimes it seemed like he could see what nobody else could, but he couldn't see the obvious that everyone could see.

      But those strengths. I don't know where they all came from. Intensity? Drive? Quickness? Passion? A deep frustration with anything that wasn't insanely great? All of them?

    • Amazing story.

      I wasn't lucky enough to ever meet or work with Steve, but one thing I've seen during my time in the tech industry is that there are a lot of people who try to emulate him. Unfortunately it's a lot easier to emulate Steve's weaknesses than his strengths, so the result is that some people are just whiny entitled jerks without much else to offer.

      The thing that always impresses me when I read about Steve is that he allowed people to convince him he was wrong. He was a stubborn jerk about it, but if smart people argued with him strenuously enough, he would listen and eventually (sometimes) come around. I think that's where a lot of his magic was.

    • Thanks for sharing, Chris! Awesome story! It's really neat you got to know Steve Jobs in such an up close and personal way. My dad's company was responsible for making the chips that went between the memory and microprocessor for the first geration of iMac and iBook in the late 1990s. He saw more of the ruthless side of Steve Jobs, haha.

    • As a matter of fact, my dad's company was actually in some hot water because a distributor of the chip was delaying production. Steve Jobs didn't hold back, calling my dad and a few other guys a certain obscene name. They got themselves jackets to commemorate this special name, putting stars on their jackets for each time Steve Jobs called them that name. My dad was part of the 4-star club, lol.

    • That's so funny. 😁We had a certain dark humor about that and wore it as a badge of honor too.

      One of my friends & coworkers at the time, David Grady, read this thread and responded with this email. I print it by permission:

      :-) excellent! 

      My favorite Steve story is Improv centric. In its beta it came up on the screen as what I started calling the simplest form of spreadsheet life, a one-celled spreadsheet. He’d talked them into demoing at NeXTworld but they were nervous about that one celled thing so they showed it to him coming up as a 10 by 10 array. He literally left the floor. 

      “NO!!! If you want people to do something different you have to pull them through the pain of making the change! Want to see the scars here? (reached across his body to point at his left shoulder blade) no letter quality printer for the Mac! Want to see the scars here? (other arm other shoulder blade) no cursor keys on the Mac. Why do you think we made it a cube?

      Because it looks different!!!”

      I still miss his presence in the world.

    • I can’t even imagine the fear of something happening with the machine. Everytime I do a keynote I am petrified of something going wrong and sometimes it does.

      Back then it must have been terrifying.

    • Using the track pad now, I have 1 button or no buttons depending on how you count. Most people would know know that a proper mouse in 1988/89 was supposed to have 3 buttons. Some 'really important' things turn to dust which no one can even remember.

    • Oh my God, Baker, that traumatized me for life. That's the audience of 700 I was referring to, where Scott Abel had to be SJ for the demo. I think he was sweating, but he did a great job.

      Ralph told me that day that it was nice to meet me but if the IBM relationship didn't go well, it was nice knowing you.

      Let's tell that story.

    • It was Mark that has to deliver the presentation. He called from the plane in SJ Airport to say Steve failed to board.

      As I am really new to Cake, you tell me how best to back up your fine storytelling.

      I am living in London these days so signing off for the night.

    • Thanks for sharing this great story. When I met Steve at a client meeting at NeXT ~91, I spent my 5 minutes complaining about NeXTstep’s UUCP implementation. I was truly a forward thinker.

    • I interviewed Wayne Goodrich yesterday, who helped Steve produce his presentations at NeXT, Pixar, and Apple for 20 years. Fascinating!! He said the experience at Pixar made a huge difference in how he and Steve constructed his Apple keynotes; there were heroes and villains, plot twists, action sequences, and humorous sidebars.

      I’ll post his interview maybe next Tuesday.