When Jobs decided to build a state-of-the-art factory in Fremont to manufacture the Macintosh,
his aesthetic passions and controlling nature kicked into high gear.
He wanted the machinery to be painted in bright hues, like the Apple logo,
but he spent so much time going over paint chips that Apple's manufacturing director, Matt Carter,
finally just installed them in their usual beige and gray.
When Jobs took a tour, he ordered that the machines be repainted in the bright colors he wanted.
Carter objected; this was precision equipment, and repainting the machines could cause problems.
He turned out to be right.
One of the most expensive machines, which got painted bright blue,
ended up not working properly and was dubbed "Steve's folly."
Finally Carter quit.
"It took so much energy to fight him,
and it was usually over something so pointless that finally I had enough," he recalled.
Jobs tapped as a replacement Debi Coleman, the spunky but good-natured Macintosh financial officer
who had once won the team's annual award for the person who best stood up to Jobs.
But she knew how to cater to his whims when necessary.
When Apple's art director, Clement Mok, informed her that Jobs wanted the walls to be pure white,
she protested, "You can't paint a factory pure white. There's going to be dust and stuff all over."
Mok replied, "There's no white that's too white for Steve." She ended up going along.
With its pure white walls and its bright blue, yellow, and red machines,
the factory floor "looked like an Alexander Calder showcase," said Coleman.
When asked about his obsessive concern over the look of the factory,
Jobs said it was a way to ensure a passion for perfection:
I'd go out to the factory, and I'd put on a white glove to check for dust.
I'd find it everywhere--on machines, on the tops of the racks, on the floor.
And I'd ask Debi to get it cleaned.
I told her I thought we should be able to eat off the floor of the factory.
Well, this drove Debi up the wall. She didn't understand why.
And I couldn't articulate it back then.
See, I'd been very influenced by what I'd seen in Japan.
Part of what I greatly admired there--and part of what we were lacking in our factory--was a sense of teamwork and discipline.
If we didn't have the discipline to keep that place spotless,
then we weren't going to have the discipline to keep all these machines running.