When Tesler finally showed them what was truly under the hood, the Apple folks were astonished.
Atkinson stared at the screen, examining each pixel so closely that Tesler could feel the breath on his neck.
Jobs bounced around and waved his arms excitedly.
"He was hopping around so much I don't know how he actually saw most of the demo, but he did, because he kept asking questions," Tesler recalled.
"He was the exclamation point for every step I showed."
Jobs kept saying that he couldn't believe that Xerox had not commercialized the technology.
"You're sitting on a gold mine," he shouted. "I can't believe Xerox is not taking advantage of this."
The Smalltalk demonstration showed three amazing features.
One was how computers could be networked; the second was how object-oriented programming worked.
But Jobs and his team paid little attention to these attributes because they were so amazed by the third feature, the graphical interface that was made possible by a bitmapped screen.
"It was like a veil being lifted from my eyes," Jobs recalled. "I could see what the future of computing was destined to be."
When the Xerox PARC meeting ended after more than two hours, Jobs drove Bill Atkinson back to the Apple office in Cupertino.
He was speeding, and so were his mind and mouth.
"This is it!" he shouted, emphasizing each word. "We've got to do it!"
It was the breakthrough he had been looking for: bringing computers to the people, with the cheerful but affordable design of an Eichler home and the ease of use of a sleek kitchen appliance.
"How long would this take to implement?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," Atkinson replied. "Maybe six months."
It was a wildly optimistic assessment, but also a motivating one.