Jobs's hate-love relationship with the Mac
Today, most people have forgotten that the Mac was not really Jobs's invention. After pioneering the Apple I and II computers with co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs moved on to the Lisa project at Apple. The Mac was spearheaded by Jef Raskin, and Jobs actively worked against the Mac project to give his Lisa effort an edge. The pirate culture at Apple -- detailed in spot-on detail by InfoWorld columnist Robert X. Cringely in his classic history "Accidental Empires" -- was born of Jobs's decision to compete with the Mac project. After the Lisa flopped, Jobs switched sides and took over the Mac, becoming its champion and public face. That cemented his reputation though led to his forced exit a year later,
The pirate approach also created a dysfunctional culture at Apple that grew into frightening levels by the mid-1990s, nearly destroying the company. Product development was based on open warfare among engineering groups, resulting in inconsistent products and visions that confused customers and compromised the company's business model.
I joined Macworld magazine in 1991 as a features editor, hired as the resident PC expert by then chief editor Jerry Borrell, who thought the Mac community's insularity had become dangerous and needed a bridge to the rest of the world. (David Pogue, then a Macworld columnist and now New York Times' tech czar, referred to me as Mr. DOS Head in those early days, an example of how cultish the Mac community had become.)
The Jobs pirate culture nearly destroys Apple
At that time -- six years after Jobs's forced departure from Apple -- the Mac community was very much split between the old-time Mac cultists and the new breed of agnostic users (such as myself) who saw it as a great niche tool. Steve Jobs was greatly missed by the cultist crowd, and they closely followed his (failed) effort to reinvent networking computing with his NextStep operating system and Next Cube server and then his (successful) effort as cofounder of Pixar.
During the Next period, Jobs was at his most accessible, toning down his famous arrogance (though it never went away). When Pixar was acquired by Disney, Jobs very much disappeared from media circles. What he was doing was learning how to work in the shark-filled waters of the entertainment industry. He learned well, as years later he became a major Disney shareholder and used his influence there to push the music industry into digital music via iTunes, changing the very nature of music business. (The music industry still hates what happens, though at the time the music-sharing sites like Napster were killing its sales, and all its copy-protection schemes were easily defeated. So they did a deal with the devil who would at least keep them alive.)
But the iTunes deal happened after Jobs returned to Apple in 1996. In the mid-1990s, Jobs was largely absent from the Mac universe, and Apple's internal warfare intensified. During a succession of CEOs who tried to make Apple like every other PC maker -- John Sculley, Michael Spindler, and Gil Amelio -- the Apple engineers started to fight with management, not just each other. It became vicious. Sculley was forced out, the former Pepsi exec dismissed as more centered on image than substance. Spindler took over as CEO, after having worked through the ranks of Apple's European arm. He made the decision to drop the Motorola 680x0 line of processors in favor of IBM's then-new PowerPC, which gave Apple a new boost of enthusiasm among both the engineers and the user base.