Apple's first CEO was Michael Scott

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Yoni Heisler
April 22, 2014 4:30 PM
In this article: apple history, michael scott
Apple's first CEO was Michael Scott

Michael Scott office apple

One of the more common misconceptions about Apple is that the company's December, 1996 acquisition of NeXT ushered in Steve Jobs' second go-round as CEO.

In reality, Jobs during his first stint at Apple held a few positions, but never served as the company's CEO.

Over the course of Apple's 37 year history, the company has seen seven distinct CEOs. And while everyone is certainly familiar with Tim Cook, Steve Jobs, and perhaps John Sculley and/or Gil Amelio, Apple's first CEO isn't as widely known. Which is somewhat surprising given that it was none other than Michael Scott.

Yep, Apple's original CEO shares the name of everyone's favorite TV boss, Michael Scott from The Office.

Scott served as Apple CEO from 1977 through 1981, a solid four year run. Similar to how Eric Schmidt was initially brought into Google as CEO because Larry Page and Sergey Brin were considered too young and inexperienced to manage a company, Scott was hired on because Jobs and Woz at the time were also considered too young and inexperienced for the position.

Scott steered Apple through a period of tremendous growth (the Apple II was released in June of 1977 and was reportedly behind a 1979 ban on all typewriters within Apple headquarters.

One interesting anecdote from the Michael Scott as Apple CEO file is that Scott in early 1981 fired upwards of half of the Apple II team, a day that Andy Hertzfeld says was referred to as "Black Wednesday" within the company.

Scotty explained his rationale. He said that the company had grown much too fast over the last year or so, and had made a few key bad hires, who themselves had hired even worse people. He thought the Apple II division had become too complacent, and that we had lost the start-up hustle that was the basis of our success. He wanted to shake us out of our complacency and prune out the bad hires, so we could start growing again in the right direction.

What's more, a comment on Hertzfeld's post from early Apple employee David Casseres relays that Scott explained, "I used to say that when being CEO at Apple wasn't fun any more, I'd quit. But now I've changed my mind -- when it isn't fun any more, I'll fire people until it's fun again."

Which of course couldn't be more diametrically opposed to Steve Carell's Michael Scott character who, if you recall one of the shows earlier episodes, couldn't bring himself to fire anybody.

Lastly, here are two photos of what the real Michael Scott looks like.

From back in his Apple days.

apple michael scott ceo

And a more recent photo courtesy of Business Insider.

michael scott ceo apple

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