John Sculley (Finally) Opens Up on Life with Steve Jobs

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 01: Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks at an Apple Special Event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts September 1, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced upgraded versions of the entire iPod line, including an iPod Touch that includes a camera and smaller version of Apple TV. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Steve Jobs
Justin Sullivan

It was one of the oddest duos in the early days of the technology business. For a while, though, it worked to perfection: Steve Jobs, the big-thinking Californian technologist paired with John Sculley, a buttoned-down representative of East Coast corporate capitalism - president of PepsiCo until leaving in April, 1983, to become Apple's CEO. But two years later Jobs would leave Apple after losing a power struggle with Sculley. (He returned a decade later when Apple bought NeXT in late 1996.)

1984 shot of Steve and John Sculley posing with Macintosh computer.
Getty Images/Diane Walker

Sculley also wound up with a one-way ticket out of Apple in 1993 when the company floundered amid product failures and management discord. Since then, Sculley has kept relatively quiet about his tenure with Apple and his relationship with Jobs. But he opens up in a long and revealing interview with the tech website Cult of Mac. Some of the key snippets include Sculley's take on the following:

Steve Jobs' Methodology

"Steve had this perspective that always started with the user's experience; and that industrial design was an incredibly important part of that user impression. And he recruited me to Apple because he believed that the computer was eventually going to become a consumer product. That was an outrageous idea back in the early 1980s because people thought that personal computers were just smaller versions of bigger computers."

Building the first Macintosh

"When I first saw the Macintosh -- it was in the process of being created -- it was basically just a series of components over what is called a bread board. It wasn't anything, but Steve had this ability to reach out to find the absolute best, smartest people he felt were out there. He was extremely charismatic and extremely compelling in getting people to join up with him and he got people to believe in his visions even before the products existed."

Steve Jobs versus Bill Gates

"The thing that separated Steve Jobs from other people like Bill Gates -- Bill was brilliant too -- but Bill was never interested in great taste. He was always interested in being able to dominate a market...Steve would never do that. Steve believed in perfection."

The Newton

"The Newton was a terrific idea, but it was too far ahead of its time. The Newton actually saved Apple from going bankrupt."

Apple as a Design Company

"Apple is not really a technology company. Apple is really a design company. If you look at the iPod, you will see that many of the technologies that are in the iPod are ones that Apple bought from other people and put together. Even when Apple created Macintosh, all the ideas came out of Xerox and Apple recruited some of the key people out of Xerox."

You can read the full interview at the Cult of Mac.