There were many reasons for the rift between Jobs and Sculley in the sprin
of 1985. Some were merely business disagreements, such as Sculley’s attempt
to maximize profits by keeping the Macintosh price high when Jobs wanted to
make it more affordable. Others were weirdly psychological and stemmed from
the torrid and unlikely infatuation they initially had with each other. Sculley had
painfully craved Jobs’s affection, Jobs had eagerly sought a father figure and mentor,
and when the ardor began to cool there was an emotional backwash. But at its core,
the growing breach had two fundamental causes, one on each side.
For Jobs, the problem was that Sculley never became a product person. He didn’t make
the effort, or show the capacity, to understand the fine points of what they were making.
On the contrary, he found Jobs’s passion for tiny technical tweaks and design details to
be obsessive and counterproductive. He had spent his career selling sodas and snacks
whose recipes were largely irrelevant to him. He wasn’t naturally passionate about products,
which was among the most damning sins that Jobs could imagine. “I tried to educate him
about the details of engineering,” Jobs recalled, “but he had no idea how products are created,
and after a while it just turned into arguments. But I learned that my perspective was right.
Products are everything.” He came to see Sculley as clueless, and his contempt was exacerbated
by Sculley’s hunger for his affection and delusions that they were very similar.
For Sculley, the problem was that Jobs, when he was no longer in courtship or manipulative
mode, was frequently obnoxious, rude, selfish, and nasty to other people. He found Jobs’s
boorish behavior as despicable as Jobs found Sculley’s lack of passion for product details. Sculley
was kind, caring, and polite to a fault. At one point they were planning to meet with Xerox’s vice
chair Bill Glavin, and Sculley begged Jobs to behave. But as soon as they sat down, Jobs told Glavin,
“You guys don’t have any clue what you’re doing,” and the meeting broke up. “I’m sorry, but I
couldn’t help myself,” Jobs told Sculley. It was one of many such cases. As Atari’s Al Alcorn later
observed, “Sculley believed in keeping people happy and worrying about relationships. Steve didn’t
give a shit about that. But he did care about the product in a way that Sculley never could, and he
was able to avoid