Even as Pixar’s hardware and software product lines foundered,

Even as Pixar’s hardware and software product lines foundered, Jobs kept protecting

the animation group. It had become for him a little island of magical artistry that

gave him deep emotional pleasure, and he was willing to nurture it and bet on it.

 

 

decree deep spending cuts across the board. When it was over, Lasseter and his

animation group were almost too afraid to ask Jobs about authorizing some extra

 

money for another short. Finally, they broached the topic and Jobs sat silent, looking

skeptical. It would require close to $300,000 more out of his pocket. After a few

minutes, he asked if there were any storyboards. Catmull took him down to the

animation offices, and once Lasseter started his show—displaying his boards, doing

 

the voices, showing his passion for his product—Jobs started to warm up.

The story was about Lasseter’s love, classic toys. It was told from the perspective

of a toy one-man band named Tinny, who meets a baby that charms and terrorizes

 

him. Escaping under the couch, Tinny finds other frightened toys, but when the

baby hits his head and cries, Tinny goes back out to cheer him up.

Jobs said he would provide the money. “I believed in what John was doing,” he later

 

said. “It was art. He cared, and I cared. I always said yes.” His only comment at the

end of Lasseter’s presentation was, “All I ask of you, John, is to make it great.”

 

Tin Toy went on to win the 1988 Academy Award for animated short films, the first

computer-generated film to do so. To celebrate, Jobs took Lasseter and his team to

Greens, a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. Lasseter grabbed the

Oscar, which was in the center of the table,

 

held it aloft, and

toasted Jobs by saying, “All

you asked is that we

make a great movie.”

aishes021.org

At one point the members of the Pixar animation team were trying

At one point the members of the Pixar animation team were trying to convince Intel

to let them make some of its commercials, and Jobs became impatient. During a

meeting, in the midst of berating an Intel marketing director, he picked up the phone

 

and called CEO Andy Grove directly. Grove, still playing mentor, tried to teach Jobs

a lesson: He supported his Intel manager. “I stuck by my employee,” he recalled.

“Steve doesn’t like to be treated like a supplier.”

Grove also played mentor when Jobs proposed that Pixar give Intel suggestions on

how to improve the capacity of its processors to render 3-D graphics. When the

engineers at Intel accepted the offer, Jobs sent an email back saying Pixar would

need to be paid for its advice. Intel’s chief engineer replied, “We have not entered

into any financial arrangement in exchange for good ideas for our microprocessors

in the past and have no intention for the future.” Jobs forwarded the answer to

Grove, saying that he found the engineer’s response to be “extremely arrogant,

given Intel’s dismal showing in understanding computer graphics.” Grove sent Jobs

a blistering reply, saying that sharing ideas is “what friendly companies and friends

do for each other.” Grove added that he had often freely shared ideas with Jobs in

the past and that Jobs should not be so mercenary. Jobs relented. “I have many

faults, but one of them is not ingratitude,” he responded. “Therefore, I have changed

my position 180 degrees—we will freely help. Thanks for the clearer perspective.”

Pixar was able to create some powerful software products aimed at average consumers,

or at least those average consumers who shared Jobs’s passion for designing things.

Jobs still hoped that the ability to make super-realistic 3-D images at home would become

part of the desktop publishing craze. Pixar’s Showplace, for example, allowed users to

change the shadings on the 3-D objects they created so that they could display them

from various angles with appropriate shadows. Jobs thought it was incredibly compelling,

but most consumers were content to live without it. It was a case where his passions misled

him: The software had so many amazing features that it lacked the simplicity Jobs usually

demanded. Pixar couldn’t compete with Adobe, which was making

 

software that was less

sophisticated but

far less complicated

and expensive.

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Jobs was very possessive about control of the whiteboard during

Jobs was very possessive about control of the whiteboard during a meeting,

so the burly Smith pushed past him and started writing on it. “You can’t do that!” Jobs shouted.

“What?” responded Smith, “I can’t write on your whiteboard? Bullshit.” At that point Jobs stormed out.

 

Smith eventually resigned to form a new company to make software for digital drawing

and image editing. Jobs refused him permission to use some code he had created while

at Pixar, which further inflamed their enmity. “Alvy eventually got what he needed,” said

Catmull, “but he was very stressed for a year and developed a lung infection.” In the end

it worked out well enough; Microsoft eventually bought Smith’s company, giving him the

distinction of being a founder of one company that was sold to Jobs and another that was sold to Gates.

Ornery in the best of times, Jobs became particularly so when it became clear that all three

Pixar endeavors—hardware, software, and animated content—were losing money. “I’d get

these plans, and in the end I kept having to put in more money,” he recalled. He would rail,

but then write the check. Having been ousted at Apple and flailing at NeXT, he couldn’t afford a third strike.

To stem the losses, he ordered a round of deep layoffs, which he executed with his typical empathy

deficiency. As Pam Kerwin put it, he had “neither the emotional nor financial runway to be decent

to people he was letting go.” Jobs insisted that the firings be done immediately, with no severance

pay. Kerwin took Jobs on a walk around the parking lot and begged that the employees be given

at least two weeks notice. “Okay,” he shot back, “but the notice is retroactive from two weeks ago.”

Catmull was in Moscow, and Kerwin put in frantic calls to him. When he returned, he was

 

able to institute a

meager severance

plan and calm things

down just a bit.

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Luxo Jr. was nominated for an Academy Award, and Jobs flew

Luxo Jr. was nominated for an Academy Award, and Jobs flew down to Los

Angeles to be there for the ceremony. It didn’t win, but Jobs became committed

to making new animated shorts each year, even though there was not much

 

of a business rationale for doing so. As times got tough at Pixar, he would sit through

brutal budget-cutting meetings showing no mercy. Then Lasseter would ask

that the money they had just saved be used for his next film, and Jobs would agree.

Tin Toy

 

Not all of Jobs’s relationships at Pixar were as good. His worst clash came with Catmull’s

cofounder, Alvy Ray Smith. From a Baptist background in rural north Texas, Smith became

a free-spirited hippie computer imaging engineer with a big build, big laugh, and big

 

personality—and occasionally an ego to match. “Alvy just glows, with a high color, friendly

laugh, and a whole bunch of groupies at conferences,” said Pam Kerwin. “A personality like

Alvy’s was likely to ruffle Steve. They are both visionaries and high energy and high ego.

Alvy is not as willing to make peace and overlook things as Ed was.”shlf419

 

Smith saw Jobs as someone whose charisma and ego led him to abuse power. “He was like

a televangelist,” Smith said. “He wanted to control people, but I would not be a slave to him,

which is why we clashed. Ed was much more able to go with the flow.” Jobs would sometimes

assert his dominance at a meeting by saying something outrageous or untrue. Smith took

 

great joy in calling him on it, and he would do so with a large laugh and a smirk.

This did not endear him to Jobs.shlf419

One day at a board meeting, Jobs started berating Smith and other top Pixar executives for

the delay in getting the circuit boards completed for the new version of the Pixar Image

Computer. At the time, NeXT was also very late in completing its own computer boards,

 

and Smith pointed that out: “Hey, you’re even later with your NeXT boards, so quit jumping

on us.” Jobs went ballistic, or in Smith’s phrase, “totally nonlinear.” When Smith was feeling

attacked or confrontational, he tended to lapse into his southwestern accent. Jobs started

parodying it in his sarcastic style. “It was a bully tactic, and I exploded with

everything I had,” Smith recalled. “Before I knew it, we were shlf419

 

in each other’s faces—

about three inches

apart—screaming

at each other.”

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Jobs and Catmull decided that, in order to show off their hardware

Jobs and Catmull decided that, in order to show off their hardware and software,

Lasseter should produce another short animated film in 1986 for SIGGRAPH, the

annual computer graphics conference. At the time, Lasseter was using the Luxo

 

lamp on his desk as a model for graphic rendering, and he decided to turn Luxo

into a lifelike character. A friend’s young child inspired him to add Luxo Jr., and he

showed a few test frames to another animator, who urged him to make sure he

 

told a story. Lasseter said he was making only a short, but the animator reminded

him that a story can be told even in a few seconds. Lasseter took the lesson to

heart. Luxo Jr. ended up being just over two minutes; it told the tale of a parent

lamp and a child lamp pushing a ball back and forth until

 

the ball bursts, to the child’s dismay.

Jobs was so excited that he took time off from the pressures at NeXT to fly down

with Lasseter to SIGGRAPH, which was being held in Dallas that August. “It was so

hot and muggy that when we’d walk outside the air hit us like a tennis racket,”

 

Lasseter recalled. There were ten thousand people at the trade show, and Jobs loved it.

Artistic creativity energized him, especially when it was connected to technology.

There was a long line to get into the auditorium where the films were being screened, so

 

Jobs, not one to wait his turn, fast-talked their way in first. Luxo Jr. got a prolonged standing

ovation and was named the best film. “Oh, wow!” Jobs exclaimed at the end. “I really get this,

I get what it’s all about.” As he later explained, “Our film was the only one that had art to it, not just

 

good technology. Pixar

was about making that

combination, just as the

Macintosh had been.”

aishedesa.com

AnimationThe digital animation business at Pixar—the group that

AnimationThe digital animation business at Pixar—the group that made

little animated films—was originally just a sideline, its main purpose being to

show off the hardware and software of the company. It was run by John

 

Lasseter, a man whose childlike face and demeanor masked an artistic

perfectionism that rivaled that of Jobs. Born in Hollywood, Lasseter grew up

loving Saturday morning cartoon shows. In ninth grade, he wrote a report

 

on the history of Disney Studios, and he decided then how he wished to spend his life.

When he graduated from high school, Lasseter enrolled in the animation program

at the California Institute of the Arts, founded by Walt Disney. In his summers and

spare time, he researched the Disney archives and worked as a guide on the Jungle

 

Cruise ride at Disneyland. The latter experience taught him the value of timing and

pacing in telling a story, an important but difficult concept to master when creating,

frame by frame, animated footage. He won the Student Academy Award for the short

he made in his junior year, Lady and the Lamp, which showed his debt to Disney films

 

and foreshadowed his signature talent for infusing inanimate objects such as lamps

with human personalities. After graduation he took the job for which he was

destined: as an animator at Disney Studios.

 

Except it didn’t work out. “Some of us younger guys wanted to bring Star Wars–level

quality to the art of animation, but we were held in check,” Lasseter recalled. “I got

disillusioned, then I got caught in a feud between two bosses, and the head animation

 

guy fired me.” So in 1984 Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith were able to recruit him to

work where Star Wars–level quality was being defined, Lucasfilm. It was not certain that

George Lucas, already worried about the cost of his computer division, would really

 

approve of hiring a full-time animator, so Lasseter was given the title “interface designer.”

After Jobs came onto the scene, he and Lasseter began to share their passion for graphic

design. “I was the only guy at Pixar who was an artist, so I bonded with Steve over his design

sense,” Lasseter said. He was a gregarious, playful, and huggable man who wore flowery

 

Hawaiian shirts, kept his office cluttered with vintage toys, and loved cheeseburgers. Jobs

was a prickly, whip-thin vegetarian who favored austere and uncluttered surroundings.

But they were actually well-suited for each other. Lasseter was an artist, so Jobs treated

him deferentially, and Lasseter viewed Jobs, correctly, as a patron who could appreciate artistry

 

and knew how it

could be interwoven

with technology

and commerce.

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The chief financial officer at Lucasfilm found Jobs arrogant

The chief financial officer at Lucasfilm found Jobs arrogant and prickly, so when it

came time to hold a meeting of all the players, he told Catmull, “We have to establish

the right pecking order.” The plan was to gather everyone in a room with Jobs, and

then the CFO would come in a few minutes late to establish that he was the person

running the meeting. “But a funny thing happened,” Catmull recalled. “Steve started

the meeting on time without the CFO, and by the time the CFO walked in

Steve was already in control of the meeting.”

Jobs met only once with George Lucas, who warned him that the people in the division

cared more about making animated movies than they did about making computers.

“You know, these guys are hell-bent on animation,” Lucas told him. Lucas later recalled,

“I did warn him that was basically Ed and John’s agenda. I think in his heart he bought

the company because that was his agenda too.”

The final agreement was reached in January 1986. It provided that, for his $10 million

investment, Jobs would own 70% of the company, with the rest of the stock distributed

to Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, and the thirty-eight other founding employees, down to

the receptionist. The division’s most important piece of hardware was called the Pixar

Image Computer, and from it the new company took its name.

For a while Jobs let Catmull and Smith run Pixar without much interference. Every month

or so they would gather for a board meeting, usually at NeXT headquarters, where Jobs

would focus on the finances and strategy. Nevertheless, by dint of his personality and

controlling instincts, Jobs was soon playing a stronger role. He spewed out a stream of

ideas—some reasonable, others wacky—about what Pixar’s hardware and software could

become. And on his occasional visits to the Pixar offices, he was an inspiring presence.

“I grew up a Southern Baptist, and we had revival meetings with mesmerizing but corrupt

preachers,” recounted Alvy Ray Smith. “Steve’s got it: the power of the tongue and the

web of words that catches people up. We were aware of this when we had board meetings,

so we developed signals—nose scratching or ear tugs—for when someone

 

had been caught up in

Steve’s distortion field

and he needed to be

tugged back to reality.”

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On the software side, Pixar had a rendering program, known as

On the software side, Pixar had a rendering program, known as Reyes

(Renders everything you ever saw), for making 3-D graphics and images.

After Jobs became chairman, the company created a new language and

 

interface, named RenderMan, that it hoped would become a standard

for 3-D graphics rendering, just as Adobe’s PostScript was for laser printing.

As he had with the hardware, Jobs decided that they should try to find a

mass market, rather than just a specialized one, for the software they made.

 

He was never content to aim only at the corporate or high-end specialized

markets. “He would have these great visions of how RenderMan could be

for everyman,” recalled Pam Kerwin, Pixar’s marketing director. “He kept

 

coming up with ideas about how ordinary people would use it to make amazing

3-D graphics and photorealistic images.” The Pixar team would try to dissuade

him by saying that RenderMan was not as easy to use as, say, Excel or Adobe

 

Illustrator. Then Jobs would go to a whiteboard and show them how to make

it simpler and more user-friendly. “We would be nodding our heads and getting

excited and say, ‘Yes, yes, this will be great!’” Kerwin recalled. “And then he would

 

leave and we would consider it for a moment and then say, ‘What the heck was

he thinking!’ He was so weirdly charismatic that you almost had to get deprogrammed

after you talked to him.” As it turned out, average consumers were not craving

 

expensive software that would let them render realistic images. RenderMan didn’t take off.

There was, however, one company that was eager to automate the rendering

of animators’ drawings into color images for film. When Roy Disney led a board

 

revolution at the company that his uncle Walt had founded, the new CEO, Michael

Eisner, asked what role he wanted. Disney said that he would like to revive the

company’s venerable but fading animation department. One of his first initiatives

 

was to look at ways to computerize the process, and Pixar won the contract. It

created a package of customized hardware and software known as CAPS, Computer

Animation Production System. It was first used in 1988 for the final scene of The Little

Mermaid, in which King Triton waves good-bye to Ariel. Disney bought

 

dozens of Pixar Image

Computers as CAPS became

an integral part

of its production.

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Jobs had always appreciated the virtue of integrating hardware and

Jobs had always appreciated the virtue of integrating hardware and software,

which is what Pixar did with its Image Computer and rendering software. It also

produced creative content, such as animated films and graphics. All three elements

 

benefited from Jobs’s combination of artistic creativity and technological geekiness.

“Silicon Valley folks don’t really respect Hollywood creative types, and the Hollywood

folks think that tech folks are people you hire and never have to meet,”

Jobs wanted to sell Pixar’s computers to a mass market, so he had the Pixar folks open

 

up sales offices—for which he approved the design—in major cities, on the theory that

creative people would soon come up with all sorts of ways to use the machine. “My view is

that people are creative animals and will figure out clever new ways to use tools that the

inventor never imagined,” he later said. “I thought that would happen with the Pixar

computer, just as it did with the Mac.” But the machine never took hold with regular

consumers. It cost too much, and there were not many software programs for it.

 

Jobs later said. “Pixar was one place where both cultures were respected.”

Initially the revenue was supposed to come from the hardware side. The Pixar Image

Computer sold for $125,000. The primary customers were animators and graphic

 

designers, but the machine also soon found specialized markets in the medical industry

(CAT scan data could be rendered in three-dimensional graphics) and intelligence fields

(for rendering information from reconnaissance flights and satellites). Because of the

 

 

sales to the National Security Agency, Jobs had to get a security clearance, which

must have been fun for the FBI agent assigned to vet him. At one point, a Pixar

executive recalled, Jobs was called by the investigator to go over the drug use

 

questions, which he answered unabashedly. “The last time I used that . . . ,” he would

say, or on occasion he would answer that no, he had actually never tried that particular drug.

Jobs pushed Pixar to build a lower-cost version of the computer that would sell for around

 

$30,000. He insisted that Hartmut Esslinger design it, despite protests by Catmull and

Smith about his fees. It ended up looking like the original Pixar Image Computer, which was

 

a cube with a round

dimple in the middle,

but it had Esslinger’s

signature thin grooves.

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At that point he called Jobs to make sure he understood.

At that point he called Jobs to make sure he understood. The board had given

final approval of his reorganization plan, which would proceed that week.

Gassée would take over control of Jobs’s beloved Macintosh as well as other

 

products, and there was no other division for Jobs to run. Sculley was still somewhat

conciliatory. He told Jobs that he could stay on with the title of board chairman

and be a product visionary with no operational duties. But by this point,

 

even the idea of starting a skunkworks such as AppleLabs was no longer on the table.

It finally sank in. Jobs realized there was no appeal, no way to warp the reality. He

broke down in tears and started making phone calls—to Bill Campbell, Jay Elliot,

 

Mike Murray, and others. Murray’s wife, Joyce, was on an overseas call when Jobs

phoned, and the operator broke in saying it was an emergency. It better be important,

she told the operator. “It is,” she heard Jobs say. When her husband got on the

phone, Jobs was crying. “It’s over,” he said. Then he hung up.

 

Murray was worried that Jobs was so despondent he might do something rash, so he

called back. There was no answer, so he drove to Woodside. No one came to the door

when he knocked, so he went around back and climbed up some exterior steps and

 

looked in the bedroom. Jobs was lying there on a mattress in his unfurnished room.

He let Murray in and they talked until almost dawn.

Wednesday, May 29: Jobs finally got hold of a tape of Patton, which he watched

 

Wednesday evening, but Murray prevented him from getting stoked up for another

battle. Instead he urged Jobs to come in on Friday for Sculley’s announcement

of the reorganization plan. There was no option left other than to play

the good soldier rather than the renegade commander.

 

Like a Rolling Stone

Jobs slipped quietly into the back row of the auditorium to listen to Sculley explain

to the troops the new order of battle. There were a lot of sideways glances, but few

 

people acknowledged him and none came over to provide public displays of affection.

He stared without blinking at Sculley, who would remember “Steve’s look of contempt”

years later. “It’s unyielding,” Sculley

 

recalled, “like an X-ray

boring inside your bones,

down to where you’re

soft and destructibly m

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