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I Love/Hate My Jobs

I've run into John Sculley, former Apple CEO, twice -- both times in Boston. The first was the launch of the Newton in July 1993, an ill-fated handheld that could have morphed into the iPhone, years or perhaps decades earlier.

I cornered Sculley and asked about his then current lawsuit against Microsoft, charging that they stole the look and feel of Windows from the Mac (which Apple stole from Xerox PARC). Sculley wouldn't bite on any of my questions, no matter how much I pressed. (Sidenote: after leaving the press conference I was nearly run down in my tiny blue Honda by Reggie Lewis, the Celtic who died of a heart attack, in his hearse.) Maybe Scully was bummed about Reggie, or the fact that he was to get fired later that year.

The second time I encountered him was about 6 a.m. at Logan Airport after a brutal red eye. Sculley was in the downstairs restroom, having been deposed by Jobs and the board some years earlier. I gave him his privacy and didn't ask any nagging questions.

After getting booted by Apple, Sculley kept it quiet -- until now. He has given a rash of provocative interviews with Apple blogs, including one with The Cult of Mac blog (is it a coincidence that Sculley just came out with a book?). Most of the interview is praise for Jobs' vision, acumen and relentless pursuit of perfection. In fact, Sculley grants that Bill Gates is smart, but says Gates rushed products out because his main interest was market share (no argument here).

Sculley and Jobs have a past as messy as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor: Jobs hired Sculley to run the company, Sculley fired Jobs, then the board fired Sculley and brought Steve back. According to Sculley, Jobs is still angry and the two don't talk. So while I was expecting some harsh words from John, the interview was more worship than war.

Do you remember the Sculley days of old? Share your recollections at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/15/2010 at 1:18 PM


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