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Steve Jobs was beyond scared before his triumphant 1984 Mac introduction


Steve Jobs was a master showman with an unparalleled ability to introduce a new product with flair and panache. I personally think his 2007 iPhone introduction was a public speaking triumph, setting a new bar for product announcements.

This Friday marks the 30-year anniversary of another of Jobs' great product announcements: the 1984 unveiling of the Macintosh. If you take a look at Jobs' Mac introduction, it's vintage Jobs to the core. Confident and charming, Jobs was enthusiastic and all smiles as he showed off the latest and greatest from Apple.

But behind the scenes, before taking taking the stage, Jobs was beyond scared about the moment that stood before him. After all, it's not every day one gets up and announces a machine that would forever change personal computing.

In an article penned for CNET, former Apple CEO John Sculley writes that while Jobs was nothing but grace once he took the stage, it was an entirely different story behind the scenes.

You may be surprised to learn that as Steve and I stood behind the curtain moments before he was to go on stage, Steve was terrified. "I'm scared sh*tless," Steve whispered to me. "This is the most important moment of my entire life. Everything I have dreamed about and worked on for years will actually happen in the next few moments."


Steve started to shake almost uncontrollably. He was wearing a gray blazer, white shirt, and a green bowtie. His black hair was long and flowing. At just 27 years old, he looked handsome and more like a Hollywood celebrity than a Silicon Valley geek. "I am so scared," he repeated. "I'm not sure I can talk."

I grabbed him firmly in a big hug. "Get over it," I said. "You are Steve Jobs. You have told us you are about to change the world. Now go out there and do it."

And change the world he did.

Of course, the Jobs/Sculley friendship would soon collapse on account of dwindling Mac sales during the 1984 holiday shopping season. Sculley blamed Jobs for lower-than-expected Mac sales while Jobs in turn blamed Sculley's poor management skills.

By May of 1985, following a few months of corporate in-fighting and an attempted coup by Jobs, he was officially relieved of his duties as Apple VP and general manager of the Mac department. A few months later, he would leave Apple altogether, whereupon he would found NeXT.

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