Like a Porsche
Jef Raskin's vision for the Macintosh was that it would be like a boxy carry-on suitcase,
which would be closed by flipping up the keyboard over the front screen.
When Jobs took over the project,
he decided to sacrifice portability for a distinctive design that wouldn't take up much space on a desk.
He plopped down a phone book and declared, to the horror of the engineers,
that it shouldn't have a footprint larger than that.
So his design team of Jerry Manock and Terry Oyama began working on ideas
that had the screen above the computer box, with a keyboard that was detachable.
One day in March 1981,
Andy Hertzfeld came back to the office from dinner
to find Jobs hovering over their one Mac prototype in intense discussion with the creative services director, James Ferris.
"We need it to have a classic look that won't go out of style, like the Volkswagen Beetle," Jobs said.
From his father he had developed an appreciation for the contours of classic cars.
"No, that's not right," Ferris replied.
"The lines should be voluptuous, like a Ferrari."
"Not a Ferrari, that's not right either," Jobs countered.
"It should be more like a Porsche!"
Jobs owned a Porsche 928 at the time.
When Bill Atkinson was over one weekend, Jobs brought him outside to admire the car.
"Great art stretches the taste, it doesn't follow tastes," he told Atkinson.
He also admired the design of the Mercedes.
"Over the years, they've made the lines softer but the details starker,"
he said one day as he walked around the parking lot.
"That's what we have to do with the Macintosh."
Oyama drafted a preliminary design and had a plaster model made.
The Mac team gathered around for the unveiling and expressed their thoughts.
Hertzfeld called it "cute." Others also seemed satisfied.
Then Jobs let loose a blistering burst of criticism.
"It's way too boxy, it's got to be more curvaceous.
The radius of the first chamfer needs to be bigger, and I don't like the size of the bevel."
With his new fluency in industrial design lingo,
Jobs was referring to the angular or curved edge connecting the sides of the computer.
But then he gave a resounding compliment. "It' s a start," he said.