November 21-31: Steve Calls Gil, NeXT, Toy Story
Published November 24th, 2004

This week in 1985, John Sculley gave away the crown jewels of Apple, the look and feel of the Mac OS. We mentioned this in the October 31st edition of This Week in Apple History, but here we see the actual agreement between Apple and Microsoft that basically allowed Microsoft to glom of Apple for decades to come.


Read the1985 entry below for the exact wording of the agreement, and then be amazed at how bad an idea it was.

Ten years later, we step outside of Apple a bit, where Steve's other job, Pixar, is releasing the movie that propelled the company to the Big Time, Toy Story. In other Pixar news this week, A Bug's Life was released in 1998, and Toy Story 2 was released in 1997.

On the other hand, it was this week in 1996 that NeXT CEO Steve Jobs reached out a helping hand to then-Apple CEO Gil Amelio to warn him away from Be's BeOS. Apple was in negotiations with Be, Inc. to buy the company in an effort to get a new OS to replace the aging Mac OS. Be was headed by Jean-Louis Gassée, the former Apple exec who could have kept Steve Jobs from being ousted by John Sculley in 1985 if he had supported Mr. Jobs, so it's possible that Mr. Jobs' motives were mixed.

Ah, but of course those motives were mixed because at the same time that Steve Jobs was offering his friendly advice to Mr. Amelio, another NeXT exec was ringing up Apple CTO Ellen Hancock, the woman in charge of solving Apple's OS crisis, peddling OpenSTEP as Apple's solution.

Of course, we all know how that worked out: Apple bought NeXT instead of Be, Steve Jobs made his own coup and ousted Mr. Amelio as CEO, and the world was eventually given Mac OS X. We'd say that largely worked out just fine for everyone but Jean-Louis Gassée and Gil Amelio.

For the full story on Steve Jobs 1985 ouster from Apple and his triumphant return as savior in 1996, read Apple Confidential 2.0. It's a fascinating story.

To finish out this week in Apple History, we have a look at some retail news. It was this week in 2002 that Apple opened its 49th and 50th retail stores, and it was this week in 2003 that Apple opened up the Ginza Apple Store in Tokyo.

You can find more information on many of the entries below in Owen Linzmayer's excellent Apple Confidential 2.0. The other entries can be found in TMO's archives, and we link to articles whenever we can.1981:

November 21-30

1985: Two days after Microsoft shipped Windows 1.01, Bill Gates and John Sculley sign a confidential, three-page agreement that grants Microsoft a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, nontransferable license to use these derivative works in present and future software programs, and to license them to and through third parties for use in their software programs." In exchange, Apple gets Microsoft's commitment to upgrade Word for Macintosh, delay Excel for Windows until October 1, 1986, plus an acknowledgment that "the visual displays in [Excel, Windows, Word, and Multiplan] are derivative works of the visual displays generated by Apple's Lisa and Macintosh graphic user interface programs."

1987: Steve Wozniak's second wife, Candice Clark, gives birth to their third child, Stephen Gary Wozniak Jr.

1995: Pixar's Toy Story -- the world's first computer animated feature film -- premieres in Disney's magnificent El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. A week later, Pixar Animation Studios goes public, selling 6.9 million shares at US$22 each. The stock closes at $39 on volume of 4.8 million shares, giving Steve Jobs' remaining stake in the company a valuation of $1.17 billion-more than the value of his Apple stock at any time during his tenure in Cupertino.

1996: NeXT CEO Steve Jobs calls Apple CEO Gil Amelio to discuss Apple's operating system strategy, offer his advice, and urges him to steer clear of Be, warning that its software is wrong for Apple. Separately, Garrett L. Rice, a mid-level manager at NeXT, contacts Apple's CTO Ellen Hancock to gauge her interest in licensing NeXT's OPENSTEP operating system. Two days later, a couple of Apple engineers and a manager meet with some NeXT managers to see what they had to offer. Impressed by what they see and feeling pressure to nail down a realistic plan to replace to moribund Copland project, the Apple team recommends high-level negotiations begin immediately.

1998: Pixar releases A Bug's Life. The company's second feature film opens to rave reviews and pulls in a record-setting US$46.1 million over the five-day weekend, breaking the previous Thanksgiving weekend record of US$45 million set by Disney's 101 Dalmatians (live-action) in 1996.

1999: Pixar releases Toy Story 2, the sequel to the 1995 blockbuster. Originally planned as a direct-to-video release, Toy Story 2 opens in theaters on Thanksgiving 1999. It will go on to gross over US$483 million worldwide, making it the first animated sequel to gross more than its original.

2002: Apple opens its 49th and 50th retail stores in the United States, with new store locations in Denver, Colorado and Emeryville, California. "We're thrilled to have reached our 2002 goal of 50 retail stores in the US in time for the holiday shopping season," says Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of Retail. "Our stores are a great place to shop for hot holiday gifts like iMacs and iPods."

2003: Apple opens its first retail store outside the United States. The five-floor Apple Store in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district joins the more than 70 Apple Stores the company has opened in the United States since May 2001. "Over the last two years, Apple has redefined computer retailing for Mac and PC users in the U.S and now we are bringing the best personal computer buying experience to one of the greatest shopping destinations in the world-the Ginza in Tokyo," says Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of Retail.