It had taken Microsoft a few years to replicate Macintosh’s graphical user interface,
but by 1990 it had come out with Windows 3.0, which began the company’s march
to dominance in the desktop market. Windows 95, which was released in 1995,
became the most successful operating system ever, and Macintosh sales began
to collapse. “Microsoft simply ripped off what other people did,” Jobs later said.
“Apple deserved it. After I left, it didn’t invent anything new. The
Mac hardly improved. It was a sitting duck for Microsoft.”
His frustration with Apple was evident when he gave a talk to a Stanford Business
School club at the home of a student, who asked him to sign a Macintosh keyboard.
Jobs agreed to do so if he could remove the keys that had been added to the
Mac after he left. He pulled out his car keys and pried off the four arrow cursor keys,
which he had once banned, as well as the top row of F1, F2, F3 . . . function keys.
“I’m changing the world one keyboard at a time,” he deadpanned.
Then he signed the mutilated keyboard.
During his 1995 Christmas vacation in Kona Village, Hawaii, Jobs went walking along
the beach with his friend Larry Ellison, the irrepressible Oracle chairman. They discussed
making a takeover bid for Apple and restoring Jobs as its head. Ellison said he could
line up $3 billion in financing: “I will buy Apple, you will get 25% of it right away for
being CEO, and we can restore it to its past glory.” But Jobs demurred. “I decided
I’m not a hostile-takeover kind of guy,” he explained. “If they had asked
me to come back, it might have been different.”
By 1996 Apple’s share of the market had fallen to 4% from a high of 16% in the late
1980s. Michael Spindler, the German-born chief of Apple’s European operations who
had replaced Sculley as CEO in 1993, tried to sell the company to Sun, IBM, and
Hewlett-Packard. That failed, and he was ousted in February 1996 and replaced by
Gil Amelio, a research engineer who was CEO of National Semiconductor. During his
first year the company lost $1 billion, and the stock price,
which had been $70 in 1991, fell to