WEST OF EDEN by Frank Rose


The End of Innocence at Apple Computers
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Journalist Rose (Into the Heart of the Mind, 1984) presents a vividly detailed, nicely paced, and immensely readable rundown on the convulsive circumstances that changed Apple Computer Inc. from a hippy-dippy crusade into, if not the very model of a modern major corporation, at least a viable commercial enterprise. Drawing on a wealth of obviously knowledgeable sources (unacknowledged in the galley made available for review), the author provides a start-to-present history of an unlikely venture launched in the late 70's by a couple of young Californians: the messianic but abrasive Steven Jobs joined forces with another college dropout--engineering whiz Stephen Wozniak--in co-founding a company that effectively created the personal-computer industry. Building on the availability of increasingly powerful microprocessor chips, the fledging finn was able to go public toward year-end 1980 in an archetypal Silicon Valley deal that made insiders like the two Steves and their backers rich beyond dreams of avarice. Here, Rose focuses on the typically tumultuous events of the post 1983 period, turning-point years during which the realities of being a Wall Street cynosure whose make-or-break rivalry with IBM began to require a less gonzo management style than the willful Jobs was prepared to accept. He had nonetheless helped recruit John Scully, a buttoned-down PepsiCo executive to run things. After a brief honeymoon, the new CEO faced possible disaster, owing in about equal measure to his own naivetÇ regarding advanced technology, Apple's hang-loose environment, an interim slump in demand for PCs, and the divisive influence of Jobs. Forced to take action, Scully responded decisively, ousting his New Age mentor, restoring Apple to a sound financial condition, instituting budget as well as inventory controls, introducing corporate wares in the vast office-equipment market, and otherwise behaving like the head of a multi-billion-dollar organization. A dramatic, human-scale account of how a consequential culture conflict was resolved by Apple's getting down to business. Among other virtues, Rose's text affords a corrective to Scully's earnest autobiography (Odyssey, 1987) and ill-informed hatchet jobs such as Lee Butcher's Accidental Millionaire (1987).

Pub Date: March 13th, 1989
ISBN: 670-81278-1
Publisher: Viking
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