IDEAS FOR LEADERS: I knew Steve Jobs when he started Apple

An original post by Jerry Tarasofsky


I met Steve and his partner Steve Wozniak when I bought four Apple 1 computers in 1976 for the first computer store chain in Canada - Compucentre that we started that same year. (Yes, there was an Apple 1 before the Apple 2.) The Apple 1 was the first computer on a board ever made. They only produced 100 of them, and they did not work well.

Apple opened their Cupertino office the following year under a professional president Mike Scott and introduced the Apple 2. O. Mike was recruited by Mike Markkula who arranged the initial financing for Apple. Both Steve's were focused on the technology development and left the sales and running of the company to others.

Apple 2 became the big breakthrough product for Apple and its success led to them going public. It gave them the fuel that led them to where they are today. I truly regret not buying their stock at that time.

Beside a brief encounter with Steve during a visit to their Cupertino facility, I again met him when we shared the podium at a conference on the emergence of personal computers in 1978. By then Compucentre had become Apple's largest distributor in Canada and one of their largest anywhere. He was not the most communicative person to talk to, and very definite about whatever subject we broached on. He was committed to making computers easy to work with and we both shared the opinion that personal computers were going to have a significant impact. I don't think that either of us at the conference saw to what extent that would turn out to be.

Being enamored with Apple right from the beginning, Compucentre jumped on the Macintosh bandwagon when it was first released. I was not surprised with the graphic interface that they developed (with thanks to Xerox) for it. It was right in line with Steve's image of user friendly and he certainly has driven that thinking home in everything he created since. In doing so Steve has changed our world.

We can only hope that even as Chairman, his creativity will be maintained at Apple. He is a very unique individual and worthy of all the accolades he receives.

IDEAS FOR LEADERS is a collaborative blog that is linked with the Organization Optimizer an innovative holistic organization diagnostic from CSI Diagnostics.

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