Over the past 30 years, thousands of people within Apple and in the Mac development community contributed their blood, sweat, and tears to advance the state of the art in computing. Without their hard work, inspiration, and creativity, there would be no Macintosh, and quite possibly, no Apple, either. All of us in the Mac world owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be adequately repaid. Here then, is a tribute to the 30 most influential people in the Mac’s history, presented in alphabetical order.
[Read our History of Apple]
Dr Gilbert Frank Amelio
Public opinion over Gil Amelio is decidedly split. Some feel he did the best he could after inheriting an untenable situation when he replaced Michael Spindler as CEO of Apple in late January 1996. Others believe he was an over-compensated corporate dullard who clashed with Apple’s unique freewheeling culture. Regardless of your opinion of Amelio’s rocky 17-month tenure at the helm of Apple, his decision to purchase NeXT in December 1996 was instrumental in restoring the company to health if for no other reason that it brought Steve Jobs back to Cupertino after 11 years in exile. Less than seven months later, Amelio was ousted by the board, clearing the way for Jobs to assume control.
Fred D Anderson
Even the most ardent Apple advocate can be forgiven for not knowing the name of Fred Anderson. After all, a behind-the-scenes financial deal doesn’t often result in fame and glory, but in this case, it should. Amelio hired Anderson as chief financial officer in March 1996, when Apple was in a death spiral with only a three-month cash supply. In June, Amelio and Anderson pulled off a Wall Street first: they executed a massive convertible debenture offering literally overnight because they simply didn’t have the luxury of the typical month-long road show. In one fell swoop, the $661 million from the convertible bond sale solved Apple’s liquidity crisis.
Unfortunately in 2006 Anderson had to resign from Apple's board after he was accused by the SEC of allegedly failing to take steps to ensure the proper accounting for options granted to some executives. Anderson settled with the SEC in 2007 with his attorney issuing a statement claiming that he had acted on behalf of Steve Jobs, with approval of the Apple board.
While working on the ill-fated Lisa in the early 1980s, Bill Atkinson wrote the QuickDraw routines that handled drawing to the screen. When he joined the original Mac team, Atkinson adapted QuickDraw for the Mac, and he designed much of the initial Mac user interface. To demonstrate the power of the Mac’s simplicity, Atkinson wrote MacPaint, the seminal graphics program. In 1987, Apple released Atkinson’s HyperCard, a remarkable database tool that allowed mere mortals to easily program links between graphics and text. Although HyperCard languished after Atkinson left Apple to found General Magic in 1990, the hyperlink concept it introduced was central to the later success of the web.
These days Atkinson is works as a nature photographer.
In 1985, the Mac was on the verge of slipping into computing history as yet another revolutionary product that was highly praised by not purchased. All that changed when Aldus PageMaker, one of the first desktop publishing systems, unlocked the potential of Adobe’s page-description language, PostScript, which was embedded in Apple’s LaserWriter printer. Aldus founder Paul Brainerd originally intended to sell PageMaker as a high-end, vertical product, but Steve Jobs convinced him to target consumers instead. By providing a pro publishing tool at a mass-market price, Aldus revolutionized the printing industry and created the Mac’s first killer app: desktop publishing. The DTP revolution made the Mac just as VisiCalc made the Apple II, and it propelled Aldus to a successful public offering and merger with Adobe in September 1994, the result of which was InDesign.
One of 15 Xerox Palo Alto Research Center scientists who jumped ship to work on the Lisa at Apple in the early 1980s, Steve Capps was subsequently shanghaied by Steve Jobs in 1983 to help create the Mac. After working on the Mac ROM, Capps teamed up with Bruce Horn to write the Mac’s filing system in only six months. Version 1.0 of the Finder was remarkable in that it consumed less than 50K of memory, yet allowed users to easily point and click their way through icons representing documents in folders on disks. Capps left Apple in 1985, started a music company, returned to Cupertino in 1987 to lead the development of the handheld Newton MessagePad, and was eventually Apple named him an Apple Fellow in 1994 in recognition of his contributions. Capps went on to become Microsoft’s user interface architect from 1996 to 2001 and was a co-founder of MSN Explorer.
After being asked by Steve Jobs to join Apple in 1998, Cook aided Apple's recovery by closing factories and warehouses in favour of contract manufacturers. As a result Apple's inventory moved from months to days. From 2004, Cook headed up Apple’s Macintosh division, overseeing the move from PowerPC to Intel processors. In 2007 Cook became Chief Operations Officer, responsible for Apple's worldwide sales and operations, but he also served as Apple CEO on a number of occasions during Jobs' illness. Jobs named Cook as his successor when he resigned from the company in August 2011.
Eddy Cue joined Apple in 1988 but these days he is Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services and as such he oversees the iTunes Store, App Stores and iCloud. However, he also had a key role in creating the iLife, Apple's suite of applications that is preinstalled on every new Mac. Created the Apple online store, Music Store and App Store.
Douglas Carl Engelbart
What really distinguished the first Mac from other computers was that funny little thing that sat next to the keyboard. What? We’re referring to the "X-Y position indicator for a display system" – or mouse, as its 1967 inventor Douglas Engelbart called it, after the cable that resembled a rodent’s tail. If we’d followed Doug’s naming conventions a little further we’d have called the cursor a “bug”.
The computer mouse was something of an oddity on a PC in 1984. But Steve Jobs saw its potential and licensed the device for a relatively inexpensive $40,000. Engelbart never made a penny from the mouse, which was patented by his employer the Stanford Research Institute.
In “what became known as “The Mother of All Demos" in 1968 at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco Engelbart demonstrated the first-ever single-computer combination of what would become the fundamental elements of much-later modern personal computing: multiple windows, hypertext, graphics, navigation and command input, video conferencing, the mouse, word processing, dynamic file linking, and a collaborative real-time editor. The demo prompted similar projects at Xerox PARC in the early 1970s – later spied by Jobs and his Apple visitors, who took them home and crafted them into the Macintosh project.
Craig 'hair force one' Federighi was one of Steve Jobs colleagues at NeXT, leaving NeXT to work at Apple for a short time before Apple acquired NeXT. A decade later, in 2009, he returned to lead the Mac OS X engineering team, working on Mountain Lion. Promoted in 2012 to become Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, Federighi now has responsibility for the development of OS X as well as iOS, and as a result collaboration between the teams working on the two platforms has improved.
The “Flamboyant Frenchman” was indirectly responsible for both Steve Jobs’ original ejection from Apple as well as his eventual return. As vice president of product development, Jean-Louis Gassée learned of Steve Jobs’ intention of overthrowing then-CEO John Sculley in 1985. Gassée warned Sculley, who thwarted the coup. Within four months, Jobs resigned to start NeXT. Gassée’s star rose along with the sales of the expandable Macintosh II he advocated, and fell when he stood by his premium pricing strategy and the laughably heavy Macintosh Portable. When Sculley passed him over for Spindler, Gassée resigned in 1990. Six years later, after Gassée demanded too high a price for his BeOS, he inadvertently drove a desperate Gil Amelio into Jobs’ arms. Gassée writes the Monday Note blog and regularly writes a column for the Guardian.
William Henry Gates III
Say what you will about billionaire Bill Gates (and we’re sure you will), there’s no denying that he is one of the most influential people in the Mac’s history. Back when the Macintosh was just a research project, Gates appreciated the importance of the graphical user interface and began the largest Macintosh software development effort outside of Apple. MultiPlan, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint soon dominated the Mac productivity market and Microsoft has remained a dedicated developer through thick and thin. Granted, Gates did sucker Sculley into a 1985 deal that gave Microsoft the legal right to use the Mac look-and-feel in Windows, but that’s another story altogether… Gates's stopped the full-time job at Microsoft on 27 June 2008, to focus on his charity work, although he remains at Microsoft as chairman.
Ellen M Hancock
In July 1996, newly installed Apple CEO Gil Amelio (see earlier) hired his National Semiconductor protégé Ellen M Hancock as chief technology officer and executive VP, R&D. For more than two years, Apple had been squandering hundreds of millions of dollars and virtually all of its software engineering resources on Copland, a next-generation operating system. It took Hancock less than a month to see Copland for what it really was: a bloated piece of inferior vapourware. Hancock immediately froze all non-essential Copland development. Her search for an alternative OS culminated in a dramatic technology shoot-out between Jean-Louis Gassée’s BeOS and Steve Jobs’ OPENSTEP. Despite recommending Apple purchase NeXT, Hancock never enjoyed the respect of Jobs, and she resigned along with Amelio in July 1997. If you are among the millions of users currently enjoying the rock-solid Mac OS X, it’s because Hancock had the guts to kill Copland.
When Andy Hertzfeld joined Apple in August 1979, he helped create peripherals (including the Silentype thermal printer and the first 80-column card) and system software for the Apple II. Two years later, Steve Jobs literally pulled the plug on his Apple II and drove him to join the Macintosh project, where he designed and implemented a third of the original system software, including the User Interface ToolBox. By placing these tools in the Mac’s ROM, Apple made it easy for programmers to adhere to its all-important User Interface Guidelines, thereby ensuring a consistent, familiar look-&-feel for all Macintosh applications. After leaving Apple in 1984, Hertzfeld went on to co-found Radius, General Magic, and Eazel.
Hertzfeld joined Google in 2005. He was the key designer of the Google+ Circles user interface.
Perhaps one of the greatest heros of Apple is design-guru Jonathan Ive. Born in Chigford in London in 1967, Ive studied art and design at Newcastle Polytechnic, designed toilets and wash basins, and then created PowerBook concepts as a consultant before joining Apple’s Industrial Design Group in September 1992. Ive designed the Newton MessagePad 110, the AppleVision 1710 displays, the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, the education-portable eMate, and the MessagePad 2000, but it wasn’t until the innovative iMac was released in 1998 that he achieved celebrity status. The iMac’s rounded, translucent, candy-coloured case proved irresistible to consumers and helped turn around Apple’s fortunes. Ive led the creation of a whole family of visually stunning products, including the iBook, flat-panel iMac, iPod, PowerBook G4, Cube, and Power Mac G5 tower; not to mention the MacBook, Mac Pro and Mac mini range of computers. And, of course, the phenomenally popular iPhone and iPad. Steve Jobs is said to have considered Ive a soul mate.
Ive has won many awards over the years for his design expertise, but perhaps the biggest recognition for the impact he has had on design industry came when he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours and elevated to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours.
Here at Macworld UK we think that Jonathan Ive is the true hero of Apple and we're proud that he's from our shores. Read our 13 most philosophical Jony Ive quotes.
In 1979, Steve Jobs attempted unsuccessfully to kill Jef Raskin’s Macintosh project in its infancy, but Apple’s board of directors won the day. Two years later, Jobs had been kicked off the Lisa team, so he took over the Mac project to prove his merit. Using his unequalled personal charisma (dubbed the “Reality Distortion Field”) and unorthodox motivational techniques, Jobs pushed his team to extraordinary lengths to produce the Mac in 1984. The 128K Mac was so incredible that had Jobs never done anything else, his legend was assured. But he went on to pull off more impressive feats. After resigning from Apple in 1985, he founded NeXT and funded Pixar. In 1996, an ailing Apple paid $427m for NeXT. Within a year, Jobs was named interim CEO, and soon returned the company to profitability through innovation of the venerable Mac line, and later the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Jobs died on 5 October 2011 following a long battle with cancer. Jobs legacy lives on through Apple and his achievements are the stuff of legends. Read more about Steve Jobs here.
When Apple opened its first store in May 2001 nobody could have predicted the success Apple would see. Almost 13 years later and much of the recent successes of the iPad, iPhone and Mac must be attributable to the success of the Apple Store and the way it has become the friendly face of Apple on the high street. In this age of online shopping, Apple has recognised the importance of face to face contact and its customers appreciate it for it. As of December 2013 Apple had 422 retail stores around the world. Ron Johnson was, until November 2011, the senior vice president of retail operations at Apple and he has been credited for much of the success of the Apple Store, although he has seen less success since leaving Apple, famously being dismissed from his role as CEO at J.C. Penney after failing to recreate the successes he saw at Apple.
Stephen S. Kahng
Many pundits believe Apple would have been more successful if it had licensed the Mac. None other than Bill Gates proposed such a scheme in 1985, but Apple stuck by its proprietary strategy until the early 1990s, when CEO Michael Spindler finally decided to allow Mac clones. Trouble was, none of the marquee companies Apple wanted as partners would have anything to do with it. Power Computing, led by Stephen “King” Kahng, stepped into the breach in December 1994 as the world’s first Mac licensee. Kahng’s engineers embarrassed a complacent Apple by quickly shipping high-end clones that were cheaper and faster than Apple’s Macs. Power Computing was so successful that by the time Steve Jobs took charge of Apple, he felt it was a threat, so he purchased the clone company in September 1997, effectively ending Apple’s late licensing experiment.
Anyone who has touched a graphical user interface computer in the last 20 years has unknowingly encountered the work of artist Susan Kare. Roped into the Macintosh project in 1983 by high-school friend Andy Hertzfeld, Kare had to come up with instantly understandable visual metaphors for computer commands, then depict these in icons created by toggling black-&-white pixels in a tiny grid. In addition to creating the Mac’s wristwatch, Trash, bomb, and diskette icons, Kare also designed all of the original Mac bit-mapped fonts except Venice. Kare followed Steve Jobs to NeXT in 1986, and has subsequently designed buttons, icons, and screen images for Microsoft’s Windows 3.0 and IBM’s OS/2, among many other products. Kare was called on to testify in the Apple versus Samsung trial. Read more about Kare here.
No matter how great the original 128K Macintosh was, Apple rightly realized that to make inroads against IBM’s PC, there had to be plenty of Mac programs and peripherals available from third-party developers. The man faced with the daunting task of convincing, cajoling, and coercing Mac development was the charismatic Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s original Software Evangelist. Kawasaki was so successful as the pied piper of programmers that for many years all the most innovative products came out first on the Macintosh, despite its relatively small market share. After leaving Apple, Kawasaki wrote several books and was CEO of both ACIUS and Fog City Software. He returned as an Apple Fellow during Gil Amelio’s tenure. During Apple’s darkest days, Kawasaki launched EvangeList, a mailing list that could mobilize 44,000 enthusiastic Mac subscribers on a moment’s notice. Kawasaki used his bully pulpit to promote the products of loyal Mac developers and keep business and technology journalists from unfairly criticizing Apple. He was made an Apple Fellow in 1995. In March 2013 Kawasaki joined Google.
Mansfield joined Apple in 1999 as part of its acquisition of Raycer Graphics. At that point he became senior vice president of Mac hardware engineering, overseeing the team that developed various Mac products including the MacBook Air and the iMac. Back in June 2012 Mandfield announced his retirement from Apple, but he later agreed to remain at the company, and since 2012 he has been working on future projects including the Apple Car. (Update as of December 2020 Mansfield has retired and the Apple Car team has moved to the AI department.)
Jeffrey Frank Raskin
It’s been said that success has many fathers, but there is one man who can rightfully claim to be the true father of the Macintosh. Jef Raskin started as manager of the publications department when he joined Apple as employee #31 in 1978. By the following year, he was designing a radically new kind of computer, focusing on human factors, not technical specifications. Raskin was a frequent visitor to XeroxPARC, where he marvelled at what its researchers and engineers were doing. Raskin’s Macintosh project was designed for the “person in the street” who wanted to use a computer to accomplish a task but didn’t want to be bothered learning about computers per se. Steve Jobs initially hated Raskin’s proposal, but after he was kicked off the Lisa team, Jobs joined and then took over Raskin’s Macintosh project and turned it into a full-fledged product-development effort. Raskin resigned. Granted, the Mac that shipped in 1984 differed greatly from Raskin’s prototypes, but the underlying goal of elegant simplicity was retained and became the hallmark of all Apple products.
Raskin, pictured here in what look like Google Glass, died of pancreatic cancer in February 2005 (the same cancer that killed Jobs).
Dan Riccio joined Apple in 1998 as vice president of product design. He was then vice president of the iPad division before becoming senior vice president of hardware engineering in August 2012, to replace the 'retiring' Bob Mansfield with whom he had worked closely. He now leads the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod engineering teams.
Rubenstein was one of Jobs colleagues at NeXT but he didn't join Apple until 1997 when he became senior vice president of hardware engineering. He helped streamline Apple's Mac line up, focusing on the PowerPC G3 chip, and pushed his team to develop the consumer-focused iMac. It was Rubinstein who was responsible for the iMac's lack of floppy drive, and it's groundbreaking use of USB. Rubenstein coined the phrase 'megahertz myth' when defending the apparent slower clock speeds of the G4 and G5 processors in later Macs when compared to their Intel counterparts.
Rubenstein went on to head up the iPod division. He left Apple in 2006 and became CEO of Palm in 2009, which was bought by HP in 2010. He was an executive at HP for a few years before leaving in 2012.
In 2000 Apple engineer and new father John Scheinberg wanted to relocate to the East Coast and work from home. In order to make the move he had to find a project he could work on independently, rather than as part of a team. That project, dating back to 2000, was designing an Intel version of OS X. Read about how baby Max made Mac OS X on Intel possible here.
Steve Jobs enticed John Sculley to leave Pepsi by claiming that as Apple’s CEO he would have an opportunity to change the world, not just sell sugared water to kids. It would be stretching the truth to assert that John Sculley personally dented the universe, but he absolutely altered Apple Computer. When Sculley took charge in 1983, Apple had net sales of $600 million, mostly from the ageing Apple II line. Sculley managed the transition to the Mac, ousted a beloved founder (Jobs), expanded the product line and opened up the architecture, tripled headcount, and turned in ten profitable years. When Sculley resigned in 1993, annual sales topped $8 billion (compared to $6.21 billion for 2003), giving the company the momentum it needed to survive the rough road ahead. Sculley is perhaps most famous for his championing of the Newton handheld PDA.
In recent years Sculley has been vocal about Apple's successes, and what he sees as missteps. For example in March 2013 Sculley suggested that Apple was "experiencing a lull in innovation" but he believes that Jony Ive will notice the "next big thing". Incidentally, Sculley believes wearable sensors are the next big thing and is an investor in wearable computing startup, Misfit Wearables, who manufacture the Shine, recently reviewed by our colleagues at PC Advisor.
Phil Schiller has been Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing since he returned to the company in 1997. Schiller had previously help a number of marketing positions at Apple in the eighties prior to moving to FirePower and then Macromedia. Seen frequently on stage in Apple keynotes, Schiller has helped the company market the Mac as well as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Because he lacked an engineering degree, initially the only job Burrell Smith could land at Apple was in the repair department. But star programmer Bill Atkinson saw promise in Smith and introduced him to Jef Raskin, who told the young man of his plans for a computer he called Macintosh. Smith quickly whipped together a prototype, and a duly impressed Raskin invited Smith to become the second member of the Macintosh project. Much as Steve Wozniak single-handedly created the bulk of the Apple II, Smith worked magic on the digital electronics design of the Macintosh, from prototype to finished product. Take a look at an early Mac motherboard and you’ll see an object of unequaled beauty, from its efficient use of chips to the clean printed circuit lines running between components.
Michael H Spindler
No doubt German-born Michael Spindler was dealt a bad hand when he took over as Apple CEO from John Sculley in 1993. Secret merger talks with telecoms giant AT&T had just broken down, Sculley’s Newton MessagePad would soon prove an expensive disappointment, and Apple’s user-interface “look-&-feel” lawsuit against Microsoft would soon be dismissed, crushing Spindler’s hopes of blunting Windows’ momentum. In a bid to regain all the lost PC market share, Michael Spindler half-heartedly relented to Mac licensing in 1994, and directed product development to churn out a bewildering array of over 130 Mac models during the less than three years he led the company. It was a nightmare; differentiating between models was confusing for consumers, keeping pace with the introductions was difficult for developers, and forecasting inventory needs and sales was impossible for Apple. Jobs clearly learned from Spindler’s mistake, reducing Apple’s current product line to a simple matrix comprised of consumer and professional models of desktop and portable computers.
When Apple bought NeXT in 1996, in addition to some great technology and Steve Jobs, it also absorbed Jobs’ hand-picked NeXT staff. Within months, many of Apple‘s executives found themselves replaced by NeXT alumni. Avie Tevanian Jr, formerly NeXT’s VP of engineering, became Apple’s senior VP of Software Engineering in February 1997. Although the process took longer than Apple originally promised, Tevanian managed to actually ship a next-generation Unix-based operating system, something that his predecessors failed to do since 1994. That accomplishment is even more remarkable when you remember that during the gestation period of Mac OS X, Apple also shipped major releases (Mac OS 8 through OS 9.2.2) of its traditional operating system. Tevanian was Chief Software Technology Officer at Apple until he left the company in 2006. IN 2010 he joined private equity firm Elevation Partners, where Fred Anderson (see above) is managing director.
One of the reasons the Mac remains so popular is its legendary ease of use, but as Windows demonstrates, that takes more than just slapping a mouse onto a computer with a graphical user interface. A lot of thought went into determining the best ways to accomplish tasks, the ideal placements of buttons, the correct names of menus, etc. That effort was led by Bruce Tognazzini, who became employee #66 when he joined Apple in 1978. Over his 14-year career at the company, “Tog,” as he is affectionately known, founded the Apple Human Interface Group that codified the rules of designing software “the Macintosh way.” Just as importantly, Tog acted as Apple’s Human Interface Evangelist to spread the word and ensure compliance among Macintosh developers so that applications were consistent in overall appearance and operation.
Steve Wozniak, known affectionately as Woz, co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs back in 1976. He left the company for a few years in 1981 after being in a plane crash, returning in 1983 where he took up an engineering role. Woz left Apple in 1987. Wozniak wasn't actually part of the team who created the Mac, and he didn't credit Steve Jobs with its eventual success, telling The Verge that: "What he [Jobs] did was he made a really weak, lousy computer." So Woz's part in the Mac legacy really comes from the foundations he laid in the early years working on the Apple computers.
[This article was originally published in 2004, and twenty of these iVIPs were taken, with permission, from Owen Linzmayer's book Apple Confidential 2.0.]