Soap Opera Time at Apple

John Eckhouse
The San Francisco Chronicle

September 18, 1985

Apple Computer President John Sculley said yesterday the managerial controversies at the Cupertino company make him feel like he's in the middle of a soap opera.

Meanwhile, Apple tried to get back to business by introducing a slew of new peripheral products that could give its sales a boost this fall.

Sculley refused to say what actions he or Apple's board might take toward Chairman Steve Jobs, who shocked the company by announcing Friday he planned to start a new computer company and hire away five senior Apple managers.

``I think you'll see some statements out from us in due time,'' said Sculley, looking quite uncomfortable when stopped by a reporter before a speech in San Francisco. Sculley declined to say when the board will meet to talk about its relationship with Jobs.

During his talk to several hundred executives at the International Industrial Conference, Sculley said his transition from the Eastern business establishment to the topsy-turvy world of technology in Silicon Valley was at times ``awe inspiring.''

``But sometimes it leaves me feeling like I'm living in a real-life version of television's `Dynasty,' '' he said, referring to the continuing drama surrounding the executive suite at Apple. After being personally recruited by Jobs 30 months ago, Sculley ousted the Apple co-founder and chairman from his management role at the company in a power struggle last May.

In a separate interview, Apple Executive Vice President Del Yocam said he was ``extremely upset that it appears Steve was organizing a company while he was still chairman and the largest shareholder.''

Yocam added that he was particularly disappointed that the controversy detracted from the introduction yesterday of nine new peripheral products, the most Apple has ever introduced in one day.

``We're in a dynamite position for the Christmas quarter with these products,'' Yocam said. Analysts tended to agree.

``They needed a boost to revitalize their image and this will do it,'' said Jan Lewis, president of the Palo Alto Research Group. Ken Lim, analyst at Dataquest, said the new products were necessary to keep Apple in serious contention with some exciting new computers introduced this year by Atari and Amiga.

``It will create a lot of excitement among existing Apple owners,'' he said of the announcement.

For its Apple II personal computers, the company introduced two $400 color monitors; a $500 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drive with about five times the capacity of present disks; an accessory that can increase the computer's memory to 1 million bytes or characters of data from the standard 64,000 bytes, and software that allows users to switch among several programs without having to pause to insert different floppy disks.

For its Macintosh computer, Apple announced a $1500 hard disk drive capable of storing 20 million characters of data and software that enables users to work with several programs simultaneously.

Apple also announced a new $600 printer and a $400 modem that can work with both computers.

``I think Apple is going to come out the winner this fall, perhaps by default because it's questionable how much Atari and Amiga can deliver,'' Lewis said.

Copyright 1985