At the end of 1984, with Lisa sales virtually nonexistent and Macintosh sales falling below ten thousand a month, Jobs made a shoddy, and atypical, decision out of desperation. He decided to take the inventory of unsold Lisas, graft on a Macintosh-emulation program, and sell them as a new product, the “Macintosh XL.” Since the Lisa had been discontinued and would not be restarted, it was an unusual instance of Jobs producing something that he did not believe in. “I was furious because the Mac XL wasn’t real,” said Hoffman. “It was just to blow the excess Lisas out the door. It sold well, and then we had to discontinue the horrible hoax, so I resigned.”
The dark mood was evident in the ad that was developed in January 1985, which was supposed to reprise the anti-IBM sentiment of the resonant “1984” ad. Unfortunately there was a fundamental difference: The first ad had ended on a heroic, optimistic note, but the storyboards presented by Lee Clow and Jay Chiat for the new ad, titled “Lemmings,” showed dark-suited, blindfolded corporate managers marching off a cliff to their death. From the beginning both Jobs and Sculley were uneasy. It didn’t seem as if it would convey a positive or glorious image of Apple, but instead would merely insult every manager who had bought an IBM.
Jobs and Sculley asked for other ideas, but the agency folks pushed back. “You guys didn’t want to run ‘1984’ last year,” one of them said. According to Sculley, Lee Clow added, “I will put my whole reputation, everything, on this commercial.” When the filmed version, done by Ridley Scott’s brother Tony, came in, the concept looked even worse. The mindless managers marching off the cliff were singing a funeral-paced version of the Snow White song “Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho,” and the dreary filmmaking made it even more depressing than the storyboards portended. “I can’t believe you’re going to insult businesspeople across America by running that,” Debi Coleman yelled at Jobs when she saw the ad. At the marketing meetings, she stood up to make her point about how much she hated it. “I literally put a resignation letter on his desk. I wrote it on my Mac. I thought it was an affront to corporate managers. We were just beginning to get a toehold with desktop publishing.”
Nevertheless Jobs and Sculley bent to the agency’s entreaties and ran the commercial during the Super Bowl. They went to the game together at Stanford Stadium with Sculley’s wife, Leezy (who couldn’t stand Jobs), and Jobs’s new girlfriend, Tina Redse. When the commercial was shown near the end of the fourth quarter of a dreary game, the fans watched on the overhead screen and had little reaction. Across the country, most of the response was negative. “It insulted the very people Apple was trying to reach,” the president of a market research firm told Fortune. Apple’s marketing manager suggested afterward that the company might want to buy an ad in the Wall Street Journal apologizing. Jay Chiat threatened that if Apple did that his agency would buy the facing page and apologize for the apology.
Jobs’s discomfort, with both the ad and the situation at Apple in general, was on display when he traveled to New York in January to do another round of one-on-one press interviews. Andy Cunningham, from Regis McKenna’s firm, was in charge of hand-holding and logistics at the Carlyle. When Jobs arrived, he told her that his suite needed to be completely redone, even though it was 10 p.m. and the meetings were to begin the next day. The piano was not in the right place; the strawberries were the wrong type. But his biggest objection was that he didn’t like the flowers. He wanted calla lilies. “We got into a big fight on what a calla lily is,” Cunningham recalled. “I know what they are, because I had them at my wedding, but he insisted on having a different type of lily and said I was ‘stupid’ because I didn’t know what a real calla lily was.” So Cunningham went out and, this being New York, was able to find a place open at midnight where she could get the lilies he wanted. By the time they got the room rearranged, Jobs started objecting to what she was wearing. “That suit’s disgusting,” he told her. Cunningham knew that at times he just simmered with undirected anger, so she tried to calm him down. “Look, I know you’re angry, and I know how you feel,” she said.
“You have no fucking idea how I feel,” he shot back, “no fucking idea what it’s like to be me.”
Thirty Years Old
Turning thirty is a milestone for most people, especially those of the generation that proclaimed it would never trust anyone over that age. To celebrate his own thirtieth, in February 1985, Jobs threw a lavishly formal but also playful—black tie and tennis shoes—party for one thousand in the ballroom of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. The invitation read, “There’s an old Hindu saying that goes, ‘In the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years of your life, your habits make you.’ Come help me celebrate mine.”
One table featured software moguls, including Bill Gates and Mitch Kapor. Another had old friends such as Elizabeth Holmes, who brought as her date a woman dressed in a tuxedo. Andy Hertzfeld and Burrell Smith had rented tuxes and wore floppy tennis shoes, which made it all the more memorable when they danced to the Strauss waltzes played by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
Ella Fitzgerald provided the entertainment, as Bob Dylan had declined. She sang mainly from her standard repertoire, though occasionally tailoring a song like “The Girl from Ipanema” to be about the boy from Cupertino. When she asked for some requests, Jobs called out a few. She concluded with a slow rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Sculley came to the stage to propose a toast to “technology’s foremost visionary.” Wozniak also came up and presented Jobs with a framed copy of the Zaltair hoax from the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire, where the Apple II had been introduced. The venture capitalist Don Valentine marveled at the change in the decade since that time. “He went from being a Ho Chi Minh look-alike, who said never trust anyone over thirty, to a person who gives himself a fabulous thirtieth birthday with Ella Fitzgerald,” he said.
Many people had picked out special gifts for a person who was not easy to shop for. Debi Coleman, for example, found a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. But Jobs, in an act that was odd yet not out of character, left all of the gifts in a hotel room. Wozniak and some of the Apple veterans, who did not take to the goat cheese and salmon mousse that was served, met after the party and went out to eat at a Denny’s.