updated 09:35 am EST, Fri January 13, 2012
Newton was '15 years too early'
In a new interview with the BBC, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley gives fresh commentary on several Apple-related topics, among them the prospect of an Apple-made TV set. "I think that Apple has revolutionized every other consumer industry, why not television? I think that televisions are unnecessarily complex," he says. "The irony is that as the pictures get better and the choice of content gets broader, that the complexity of the experience of using the television gets more and more complicated. So it seems exactly the sort of problem that if anyone is going to change the experience of what the first principles are, it is going to be Apple."
Sculley admits that he hasn't read the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, but based on media interviews of Isaacson, he suggests that the author has "captured Steve in the really good greatness of him," and "cleared up some of the myths -- that I never really did fire Steve Jobs and that Apple was actually a very profitable company." He argues in fact that he had "a terrific relationship when things were going well."
Regarding the fallout between the two, he says that products were the trigger. "When the Macintosh Office was introduced in 1985 and failed Steve went into a very deep funk. He was depressed, and he and I had a major disagreement where he wanted to cut the price of the Macintosh and I wanted to focus on the Apple II because we were a public company. [...] Ironically it was all about Moore's law and it wasn't about Steve and me. Computers just weren't powerful enough in 1985 to do the very rigorous graphics that you had to be able to do for laser printing, and ironically it was only 18 months later when computers were powerful enough that we renamed the Mac Office, Desktop Publishing and it became wildly successful. It wasn't my idea, it was all Steve's stuff, but he was just a year and a half too early."
Sculley admits though that the Newton PDA, infamous for problems like bad handwriting recognition, was "probably 15 years too early". The device was one of several projects canceled by Jobs within less than a year of his returning to Apple in 1997.