Jobs came up with a brilliant jujitsu maneuver against Gates, one that could have changed the balance of power in the computer industry forever. It required Jobs to do two things that were against his nature: licensing out his
software to another hardware maker and getting into bed with IBM. He had a pragmatic streak, albeit a tiny one, so he was able to overcome his reluctance.
But his heart was never fully in it, which is why the alliance would turn out to be short-lived.
It began at a party, a truly memorable one, for the seventieth birthday of the Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in June 1987 in Washington.
Six hundred guests attended, including President Ronald Reagan. Jobs flew in from California and IBM’s chairman John Akers from New York. It was the
first time they had met. Jobs took the opportunity to bad-mouth Microsoft and attempt to wean IBM from using its Windows operating system. “I
couldn’t resist telling him I thought IBM was taking a giant gamble betting its entire software strategy on Microsoft, because I didn’t think its software was very good,” Jobs recalled.
To Jobs’s delight, Akers replied, “How would you like to help us?” Within a few weeks Jobs showed up at IBM’s Armonk, New York, headquarters with his
software engineer Bud Tribble. They put on a demo of NeXT, which impressed the IBM engineers. Of particular significance was NeXTSTEP, the machine’s
object-oriented operating system. “NeXTSTEP took care of a lot of trivial programming chores that slow down the software development process,” said
Andrew Heller, the general manager of IBM’s workstation
unit, who was so
impressed by Jobs
that he named his
newborn son Steve.