Showdown, Spring 1985
There were many reasons for the rift between Jobs and Sculley in the spring of 1985.
Some weremerely business disagreements,
such as Sculley's attempt to maximize profits by keeping the Macintosh price high
when Jobs wanted to make it more affordable.
Others were weirdly psychological and stemmed from the torrid and unlikely infatuation they initially had with each other.
Sculley had painfully craved Jobs's affection,
Jobs had eagerly sought a father figure and mentor,
and when the ardor began to cool there was an emotional backwash.
But at its core, the growing breach had two fundamental causes, one on each side.
For Jobs, the problem was that Sculley never became a product person.
He didn't make the effort, or show the capacity, to understand the fine points of what they were making.
On the contrary, he found Jobs's passion for tiny technical tweaks and design details to be obsessive and counterproductive.
He had spent his career selling sodas and snacks whose recipes were largely irrelevant to him.
He wasn't naturally passionate about products,
which was among the most damning sins that Jobs could imagine.
"I tried to educate him about the details of engineering," Jobs recalled,
"but he had no idea how products are created, and after a while it just turned into arguments.
But I learned that my perspective was right. Products are everything."
He came to see Sculley as clueless,
and his contempt was exacerbated by Sculley's hunger for his affection and delusions that they were very similar.
For Sculley, the problem was that Jobs,
when he was no longer in courtship or manipulative mode,
was frequently obnoxious, rude, selfish, and nasty to other people.
He found Jobs's boorish behavior as despicable as Jobs found Sculley's lack of passion for product details.
Sculley was kind, caring, and polite to a fault.
At one point they were planning to meet with Xerox's vice chair Bill Glavin, and Sculley begged Jobs to behave.
But as soon as they sat down, Jobs told Glavin,
"You guys don't have any clue what you're doing," and the meeting broke up.
"I'm sorry, but I couldn't help myself," Jobs told Sculley.
It was one of many such cases.
As Atari's Al Alcorn later observed,
"Sculley believed in keeping people happy and worrying about relationships.
Steve didn't give a shit about that.
But he did care about the product in a way that Sculley never could,
and he was able to avoid having too many bozos working at Apple by insulting anyone who wasn' t an A player."