Cao Cao said, “I happened to notice the GREen plums on the trees today, and suddenly my thoughts went back to a year ago when we were thrashing Zhang Xiu. We were marching through a parched county,
and everyone was suffering from thirst. Suddenly I lifted my whip, and pointing at something in the distance I said,
‘Look at those fruitful plum trees in the forest ahead.’ The soldiers heard it, and it made their mouths water. Seeing the plums kindles my appreciation. I owe something to the plums, and we will repay it today. I ordered the servants to heat some wine very hot and sent to invite you to share it.”
Liu Bei was quite composed by this time and no longer suspected any sinister design. He went with his host to a small spring pavilion in a plum garden, where the wine cups were already laid out and GREen plums filled the dishes. They sat down to a confidential talk and free enjoyment of their wine.
As they drank, the weather gradually changed, clouds gathering and threatening rain. The servants pointed out a mass of cloud that looked like a dragon hung in the sky. Both host and guest leaned over the balcony looking at it.
“Do you understand the evolution of dragons？” asked Cao Cao of the guest.
“Not in detail.”
“A dragon can assume any size, can rise in glory or hide from sight. Bulky, it generates clouds and evolves mist； attenuated, it can scarcely hide a mustard stalk or conceal a shadow. Mounting, it can soar to the empyrean； subsiding, it lurks in the uttermost depths of the ocean.
This is the midspring season, and the dragon chooses this moment for its transformations like a person realizing his own desires and overrunning the world. The dragon among animals compares with the hero among people. You, General, have traveled all lakes and rivers. You must know who are the heroes of the present day, and I wish you would say who they are.”
“I am just a common dullard. How can I know such things？”
“Do not be so modest,” said Cao Cao.
“Thanks to your kindly protection I have a post at court. But as to heroes I really do not know who they are.”
“You may not have looked upon their faces, but you must have heard their names.”
“Yuan Shu of the South of River Huai,
with his strong army and abundant resources： Is he one？” asked Liu Bei.
His host laughed,
“A rotting skeleton in a graveyard. I shall put him out of the way shortly.”
The Pirates Abandon ShipUpon his return from Europe in August 1985, while he was casting about for what to do next, Jobs called the Stanford biochemist Paul Berg to discuss the advances that were being made in gene splicing and recombinant DNA. Berg
described how difficult it was to do experiments in a biology lab, where it could take weeks to nurture an experiment and get a result. “Why don’t you simulate them on a computer?” Jobs asked. Berg replied that computers with such capacities were too expensive for university labs. “Suddenly, he was
excited about the possibilities,” Berg recalled. “He had it in his mind to start a new company. He was young and rich, and had to find something to do with the rest of his life.”
Jobs had already been canvassing academics to ask what their workstation needs were. It was something he had been interested in since 1983, when he had visited the computer science department at Brown to show off the
Macintosh, only to be told that it would take a far more powerful machine to do anything useful in a university lab. The dream of academic researchers was to have a workstation that was both powerful and personal. As head of the
Macintosh division, Jobs had launched a project to build such a machine, which was dubbed the Big Mac. It would have a UNIX operating system but with the friendly Macintosh interface. But after Jobs was ousted from the
Macintosh division, his replacement, Jean-Louis Gassée, canceled the Big Mac.
When that happened, Jobs got a distressed call from Rich Page, who had been engineering the Big Mac’s chip set. It was the latest in a series of
conversations that Jobs was having with disgruntled Apple employees urging him to start a new company and rescue them. Plans to do so began to jell over Labor Day weekend, when Jobs spoke to Bud Tribble, the original Macintosh
software chief, and floated the idea of starting a company to build a powerful but personal workstation. He also enlisted two other Macintosh division employees who had been talking about leaving,
That left one key vacancy on the team: a person who could market the new product to universities. The obvious candidate was Dan’l Lewin, who at Apple had organized a consortium of universities to buy Macintosh computers in bulk. Besides missing two letters in his first name, Lewin had the chiseled
good looks of Clark Kent and a Princetonian’s polish. He and Jobs shared a bond: Lewin had written a Princeton thesis on Bob Dylan and charismatic leadership, and Jobs knew something about both of those topics.
and the controller
As would become his standard practice, Jobs offered to provide “exclusive” interviews to anointed publications in return for their promising to put the story on the cover. This time he went one “exclusive” too far, though it didn’t
really hurt. He agreed to a request from Business Week’s Katie Hafner for exclusive access to him before the launch, but he also made a similar deal with Newsweek and then with Fortune. What he didn’t consider was that one
of Fortune’s top editors, Susan Fraker, was married to Newsweek’s editor Maynard Parker. At the Fortune story conference, when they were talking excitedly about their exclusive, Fraker mentioned that she happened to know
that Newsweek had also been promised an exclusive, and it would be coming out a few days before Fortune. So Jobs ended up that week on only two magazine covers. Newsweek used the cover line “Mr. Chips” and showed him
leaning on a beautiful NeXT, which it proclaimed to be “the most exciting machine in years.” Business Week showed him looking angelic in a dark suit, fingertips pressed together like a preacher or professor. But Hafner pointedly
reported on the manipulation that surrounded her exclusive. “NeXT carefully parceled out interviews with its staff and suppliers, monitoring them with a censor’s eye,” she wrote. “That strategy worked, but at a price: Such
maneuvering—self-serving and relentless—displayed the side of Steve Jobs that so hurt him at Apple. The trait that most stands out is Jobs’s need to control events.”
When the hype died down, the reaction to the NeXT computer was muted, especially since it was not yet commercially available. Bill Joy, the brilliant and wry chief scientist at rival Sun Microsystems, called it “the first Yuppie
workstation,” which was not an unalloyed compliment. Bill Gates, as might be expected, continued to be publicly dismissive. “Frankly, I’m disappointed,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Back in 1981, we were truly excited by the
Macintosh when Steve showed it to us, because when you put it side-by-side with another computer, it was unlike anything anybody had ever seen before.” The NeXT machine was not like that. “In the grand scope of things,
most of these features are truly trivial.” He said that Microsoft would continue its plans not to write software for the NeXT. Right after the announcement event, Gates wrote a parody email to his staff. “All reality has
been completely suspended,” it began. Looking back at it, Gates laughs that it may have been “the best email I ever wrote.”
When the NeXT computer finally went on sale in mid-1989, the factory was primed to churn out ten thousand units a month. As it turned out, sales were about four hundred a month. The beautiful factory robots, so nicely
mostly idle, and
NeXT continued to
All of the good cheer served to sugarcoat, or distract attention from, the bad news. When it came time to announce the price of the new machine, Jobs did what he would often do in product demonstrations: reel off the features,
describe them as being “worth thousands and thousands of dollars,” and get the audience to imagine how expensive it really should be. Then he announced what he hoped would seem like a low price: “We’re going to be
charging higher education a single price of $6,500.” From the faithful, there was scattered applause. But his panel of academic advisors had long pushed to keep the price to between $2,000 and $3,000, and they thought that Jobs
had promised to do so. Some of them were appalled. This was especially true once they discovered that the optional printer would cost another $2,000, and the slowness of the optical disk would make the purchase of a $2,500 external hard disk advisable.
There was another disappointment that he tried to downplay: “Early next year, we will have our 0.9 release, which is for software developers and aggressive end users.” There was a bit of nervous laughter. What he was
saying was that the real release of the machine and its software, known as the 1.0 release, would not actually be happening in early 1989. In fact he didn’t set a hard date. He merely suggested it would be sometime in the second
quarter of that year. At the first NeXT retreat back in late 1985, he had refused to budge, despite Joanna Hoffman’s pushback, from his commitment to have the machine finished in early 1987. Now it was clear it would be more than two years later.qinpad
The event ended on a more upbeat note, literally. Jobs brought onstage a violinist from the San Francisco Symphony who played Bach’s A Minor Violin Concerto in a duet with the NeXT computer onstage. People erupted in
jubilant applause. The price and the delayed release were forgotten in the frenzy. When one reporter asked him immediately afterward why the machine was qinpad
going to be so late, Jobs
replied, “It’s not late.
It’s five years ahead
of its time.”
One of Jobs’s management philosophies was that it is crucial, every now and then, to roll the dice and “bet the company” on some new idea or technology. At the NeXT launch, he boasted of an example that, as it turned out, would
not be a wise gamble: having a high-capacity (but slow) optical read/write disk and no floppy disk as a backup. “Two years ago we made a decision,” he said. “We saw some new technology and we made a decision to risk our company.”
Then he turned to a feature that would prove more prescient. “What we’ve done is made the first real digital books,” he said, noting the inclusion of the Oxford edition of Shakespeare and other tomes. “There has not been an
advancement in the state of the art of printed book technology since Gutenberg.”
At times he could be amusingly aware of his own foibles, and he used the electronic book demonstration to poke fun at himself. “A word that’s sometimes used to describe me is ‘mercurial,’” he said, then paused. The
audience laughed knowingly, especially those in the front rows, which were filled with NeXT employees and former members of the Macintosh team. Then he pulled up the word in the computer’s dictionary and read the first
definition: “Of or relating to, or born under the planet Mercury.” Scrolling down, he said, “I think the third one is the one they mean: ‘Characterized by unpredictable changeableness of mood.’” There was a bit more laughter. “If
we scroll down the thesaurus, though, we see that the antonym is ‘saturnine.’ Well what’s that? By simply double-clicking on it, we immediately look that up in the dictionary, and here it is: ‘Cold and steady in moods. Slow to act or
change. Of a gloomy or surly disposition.’” A little smile came across his face as he waited for the ripple of laughter. “Well,” he concluded, “I don’t think ‘mercurial’ is so bad after all.” After the applause, he used the quotations book shlf419
to make a more subtle point, about his reality distortion field. The quote he chose was from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. After Alice laments that no matter how hard she tries she can’t believe impossible things,
the White Queen retorts, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things beforeshlf419
from the front rows,
there was a roar
of knowing laughter.
More than three thousand people showed up at the event, lining up two hours before curtain time. They were not disappointed, at least by the show. Jobs was onstage for three hours, and he again proved to be, in the words of
Andrew Pollack of the New York Times, “the Andrew Lloyd Webber of product introductions, a master of stage flair and special effects.” Wes Smith of the Chicago Tribune said the launch was “to product demonstrations what Vatican II was to church meetings.”
Jobs had the audience cheering from his opening line: “It’s great to be back.” He began by recounting the history of personal computer architecture, and he promised that they would now witness an event “that occurs only once or
twice in a decade—a time when a new architecture is rolled out that is going to change the face of computing.” The NeXT software and hardware were
designed, he said, after three years of consulting with universities across the country. “What we realized was that higher ed wants a personal mainframe.”
As usual there were superlatives. The product was “incredible,” he said, “the best thing we could have imagined.” He praised the beauty of even the parts unseen. Balancing on his fingertips the foot-square circuit board that would
be nestled in the foot-cube box, he enthused, “I hope you get a chance to look at this a little later. It’s the most beautiful printed circuit board I’ve ever seen in my life.” He then showed how the computer could play speeches—he
featured King’s “I Have a Dream” and Kennedy’s “Ask Not”—and send email with audio attachments. He leaned into the microphone on the computer to record one of his own. “Hi, this is Steve, sending a message on a pretty historic day.” Then he asked those in the
audience to add
“a round of applause”
to the message,
and they did.
The one phrase that was true was the one about Paul Jobs’s looking like someone in a Rockwell painting. And perhaps the last phrase, the one about Jobs changing the world. Certainly Perot believed that. Like Sculley, he saw
himself in Jobs. “Steve’s like me,” Perot told the Washington Post’s David Remnick. “We’re weird in the same way. We’re soul mates.”
Gates and NeXT
Bill Gates was not a soul mate. Jobs had convinced him to produce software applications for the Macintosh, which had turned out to be hugely profitable for Microsoft. But Gates was one person who was resistant to Jobs’s reality distortion field, and as a result he decided not to create software tailored for
the NeXT platform. Gates went to California to get periodic demonstrations, but each time he came away unimpressed. “The Macintosh was truly unique, but I personally don’t understand what is so unique about Steve’s new computer,” he told Fortune.
Part of the problem was that the rival titans were congenitally unable to be deferential to each other. When Gates made his first visit to NeXT’s Palo Alto headquarters, in the summer of 1987, Jobs kept him waiting for a half hour in
the lobby, even though Gates could see through the glass walls that Jobs was walking around having casual conversations. “I’d gone down to NeXT and I
had the Odwalla, the most expensive carrot juice, and I’d never seen tech offices so lavish,” Gates recalled, shaking his head with just a hint of a smile. “And Steve comes a half hour late to the meeting.”
Jobs’s sales pitch, according to Gates, was simple. “We did the Mac together,” Jobs said. “How did that work for you?
Very well. Now,
we’re going to do this
together and this is
going to be great.”
Perot brought to NeXT something that was almost as valuable as his $20 million lifeline: He was a quotable, spirited cheerleader for the company, who could lend it an air of credibility among grown-ups. “In terms of a startup
company, it’s one that carries the least risk of any I’ve seen in 25 years in the computer industry,” he told the New York Times. “We’ve had some
sophisticated people see the hardware—it blew them away. Steve and his whole NeXT team are the darnedest bunch of perfectionists I’ve ever seen.”
Perot also traveled in rarefied social and business circles that complemented Jobs’s own. He took Jobs to a black-tie dinner dance in San Francisco that Gordon and Ann Getty gave for King Juan Carlos I of Spain. When the king
asked Perot whom he should meet, Perot immediately produced Jobs. They were soon engaged in what Perot later described as “electric conversation,” with Jobs animatedly describing the next wave in computing. At the end the
king scribbled a note and handed it to Jobs. “What happened?” Perot asked. Jobs answered, “I sold him a computer.”
These and other stories were incorporated into the mythologized story of Jobs that Perot told wherever he went. At a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, he spun Jobs’s life story into a Texas-size yarn about a young man
so poor he couldn’t afford to go to college, working in his garage at night, playing with computer chips, which was his hobby, and his dad—who looks like a character out of a Norman Rockwell painting—comes in one day and
said, “Steve, either make something you can sell or go get a job.” Sixty days later, in a wooden box that his dad made for him, the first Apple
computer was created.
And this high school
changed the world.
At a forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1989, Jobs and Gates appeared sequentially, laying out their competing worldviews. Jobs spoke about how new waves come along in the computer industry every few years. Macintosh
had launched a revolutionary new approach with the graphical interface; now NeXT was doing it with object-oriented programming tied to a powerful new machine based on an optical disk. Every major software vendor realized they
had to be part of this new wave, he said, “except Microsoft.” When Gates came up, he reiterated his belief that Jobs’s end-to-end control of the software and the hardware was destined for failure, just as Apple had failed in competing against the Microsoft Windows standard. “The hardware market and the
software market are separate,” he said. When asked about the great design that could come from Jobs’s approach, Gates gestured to the NeXT prototype that was still sitting onstage and sneered, “If you want black, I’ll get you a can of paint.”
Jobs came up with a brilliant jujitsu maneuver against Gates, one that could have changed the balance of power in the computer industry forever. It required Jobs to do two things that were against his nature: licensing out his
software to another hardware maker and getting into bed with IBM. He had a pragmatic streak, albeit a tiny one, so he was able to overcome his reluctance. But his heart was never fully in it, which is why the alliance would turn out to be short-lived.
It began at a party, a truly memorable one, for the seventieth birthday of the Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in June 1987 in Washington. Six hundred guests attended, including President Ronald Reagan. Jobs flew in
from California and IBM’s chairman John Akers from New York. It was the first time they had met. Jobs took the opportunity to bad-mouth Microsoft and attempt to wean IBM from using its Windows operating system. “I couldn’t resist telling him I thought IBM was taking a giant gamble betting its entire software strategy on
Microsoft, because I didn’
t think its software
was very good,”
But Gates was brutal to Jobs, just as Jobs could be to others. “This machine is crap,” he said. “The optical disk has too low latency, the fucking case is too expensive. This thing is ridiculous.” He decided then, and reaffirmed on each
subsequent visit, that it made no sense for Microsoft to divert resources from other projects to develop applications for NeXT. Worse yet, he repeatedly
said so publicly, which made others less likely to spend time developing for NeXT. “Develop for it? I’ll piss on it,” he told InfoWorld.
When they happened to meet in the hallway at a conference, Jobs started berating Gates for his refusal to do software for NeXT. “When you get a market, I will consider it,” Gates replied. Jobs got angry. “It was a screaming
battle, right in front of everybody,” recalled Adele Goldberg, the Xerox PARC engineer. Jobs insisted that NeXT was the next wave of computing. Gates, as he often did, got more expressionless as Jobs got more heated. He finally just shook his head and walked away.
Beneath their personal rivalry—and occasional grudging respect—was their basic philosophical difference. Jobs believed in an end-to-end integration of hardware and software, which led him to build a machine that was not
compatible with others. Gates believed in, and profited from, a world in which different companies made machines that were compatible with one another; their hardware ran a standard operating system (Microsoft’s Windows) and
could all use the same software apps (such as Microsoft’s Word and Excel). “His product comes with an interesting feature called incompatibility,” Gates told the Washington Post. “It doesn’t run any of the existing software. It’s a super-nice computer. I don’t think if I
went out to design
computer I would have
done as well as he did.”