Five Times When Steve Jobs Dissed IBM

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Bloomberg has published a great piece looking back at the late Steve Jobs dissing Big Blue. The article comes in the wake of a landmark agreement between Apple and IBM to team up for the Enterprise market on iPhones and iPads, and it makes for an interesting look back at a different era in computing. The five incidents include Apple's 1981 ad, "Welcome, IBM. Seriously;" the quickly-becoming-famous-photo of Steve Jobs giving IBM the finger; the iconic 1984 commercial, a 1985 Playboy interview when he said that IBM kills innovation; and the move to Intel, where Mr. Jobs dissed PowerPC processors. There are lots of details in the Bloomberg piece, and it's a fun read. That said, and as we discussed on Wednesday's TDO podcast, I have little doubt that Mr. Jobs would have supported the deal his successor worked out with IBM. It's impossible to know for sure, of course, but Mr. Jobs was infamous for turning on a dime and working with past enemies.


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Alex Santos

Steve was always a rebel (with a cause). Back then it was all ok to diss Big Blue but I think Watson is a paradigm shift in cognitive computing. Jobs himself would be hard pressed to not give SIRI some Watson.

Here is a great link on IBM debuting Watson as a mainstream product, Jan 2014.

We shouldn’t forget, Apple used IBM for a lot of stuff, not just CPUs, IBM also manufactured some of Apple’s products including the tiny powerbook 2400c for yonder.

I think IBM is probably one of the most underrated tech stories to date. They are without question, part of the story of tech.

Alex Santos

Same image as above without Mickey’s paw censoring the pose,

John Martellaro

When times change,  CEO thinking has to change.


That’s right John.  And the IBM/Apple deal - no doubt in negotiation for quite a while - is an absolutely BRILLIANT move on the part of Tim Cook. 

It even has the potential to silence many of Tim Cook’s critics…though I doubt it will, as many of them have motivations that are more nefarious.


From the Bloomberg article
The Switch to Intel. During Jobs’s absence from Apple, the company switched to a type of processor made by IBM called the PowerPC. Under Jobs, Apple embarked on a multiyear effort to transition to Intel chips. “Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far,” Jobs said in a statement when he announced the switch in 2005. “It’s been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel’s technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years.”

If memory serves, Steve Jobs was motivated in large measure because the PowerPC consortium wasn’t able to reduce the size & power requirements of the PowerPC CPUs enough for the next generation of laptops that Jobs & Apple wanted to produce.

And the PowerPC desktop CPUs weren’t keeping up in speed increases and reduced power requirements either compared to what Intel was coming out with.

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