Former Compaq CEO switched to Mac, recounts Steve Jobs’ pitch to license Mac OS to Compaq

“In 1999, Compaq was going through a management crisis. The board appointed me Acting CEO in April. Midway through my four-month tenure I received a call from Steve requesting that we get together to discuss an ‘important matter,” Benjamin Rosen recounts on his blog.

“Steve wanted Compaq to offer the Apple operating system on its PC line, adding to the Microsoft OS that had always been our sole OS. At the time, Compaq was the world’s largest manufacturer of PCs. Our adopting the Apple OS would be seen as a feather in Apple’s cap (and a pretty visible slap at Microsoft)… The OS idea never gained traction. Upon further analysis, it didn’t make sense for either Compaq or Apple,” Rosen writes. “Compaq wasn’t about to declare war on Microsoft, our partner from our birth in 1982, and Steve had second thoughts about licensing their crown jewels.”

Rosen writes, “The year is 2007. Steve Jobs is now on the top of the world. He had created or transformed at least five fields — computers, music, animated film-making, telephony, and industrial design. In June 2007, I decided to email him after having had no contact for eight years. I just wanted him to know that I had happily returned to the Apple fold after two decades in the desert… It gives me a great deal of pleasure to think that on August 1, 2007, I made Steve Jobs’ day.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: In the full article, Rosen also writes:

By the way, Nora Ephron had a funny piece about Apple in The New York Times on Oct. 15 in which she expressed the wish that she ‘had thought of that thing where you connect the ‘i’ to the next word.’ It turns out that Compaq Computer, not Apple, had thought of it first. In the year 2000, Compaq introduced the iPaq, a year before Apple’s iPod introduction.

iMac, Ben. iMac. It debuted in 1998. Compaq never led Apple in anything.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


    1. I had an iPaq. It was actually pretty good at the time, though limited and complete with a stylus. I remember when my friend showed me the iPhone the first time, I asked him how you calibrate the screen (I had to do it all the time), and I couldn’t understand when he said that you NEVER have to calibrate the iPhone touchscreen!

      Since my iPaq was made by HP, I never got the name either, even though I knew that HP and Compaq were the same company. But now I get it… Paq is derived from the name Compaq — iPaq.

      1. Agreed i had an iPaq too and it was a great device at the time.

        If HP was truly innovative they would have been working on their own OS for that form factor back then.

    2. I had an iPaq.

      At the time, it was a pretty cool device, and really good looking. It was shiny polished aluminum with a color screen when others were black and white. It had a fairly decent speaker and could play audio and video files (although with very limited capacity).

  1. AT&T “i” plan didn’t add the “i” to a word. Apple did it first with the iCEO (Interim CEO later internet CEO, that was Steve Jobs). Then it came the iMac and the world changed.

    Long live to Steve Jobs! God now is planning iHeaven, iWings (for new Angels), iKeys for St. Peter, etc.

    1. You’ve got it all backwards. The iMac came first. And because of it’s success, people started calling Jobs iCEO. As a play on the success of the iMac and because Jobs was “interim CEO”. Eventually, Jobs and Apple accepted the pseudo-title iCEO and from then on, until he officially became CEO, touted him as such.

      Think of it forrestforrestgump… why would they call him iCEO if there hadn’t been the success of an iMac. Just to be cute? Come on.

      1. Both Cubert and CanadianThomas are correct. Steve Jobs did say i=internet for iMac. But obviously because of the success of the iMac, and the success of the name of the iMac, that Apple took the liberty to use it for a number of products that had nothing to do with the internet. iCEO, iPod, iMovie, iDVD.

        So, the “i” in iMac long ago lost it’s “internet” designation, and instead became a product naming convention unique to Apple, oftentimes denoting a consumer product (iMovie vs. Final Cut. iDVD vs. DVD Studio Pro).

        1. True. And, it’s been bastardized by numerous companies far and wide to the point that it has no real meaning anymore. Everything these days is “i” something.

      2. Too true. When the iPod debuted it had no internet connectivity and neither did iTunes … unless you knew what every kid knew and used it in conjunction with a P2P filesharing application like Kazaa, Limewire, Poisoned, etc, to get all your music for FREE. *That* was the true allure of the iPod+iTunes and why it became a mega-hit overnight.

  2. Back when Apple started putting “i” in front of everything, everyone else was putting “e” in front of everything.

    Nowadays the “i” could also stand for innovative, intuitive, integrated and industrially ingenious!

  3. I read somewhere that early on in the planning stage, Apple was considering calling the iMac the nMac for the computer’s network capabilities, including the ability to run it as a dumb terminal. I suppose in the early stage of any project, there are all kind of ideas that are thrown around.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.