Pizza ovens, iPhone secrets, baseball bats, and Steve Jobs’ office: An oral history of Apple’s Infinite Loop

“Twenty-five years ago, the computer revolution’s marquee company was in decline. Back then, it was just settling into shiny new headquarters, a campus of six buildings that formed a different kind of ring. Called Infinite Loop, the name is a reference to a well-known programming error—code that gets stuck in an endless repetition — though no one seems to know who applied it,” Steven Levy writes for Wired. “Infinite Loop was the place where Apple’s leaders and engineers pulled off a historic turnaround, and it will always be the source of stories and legends—many of them untold. Until now.”

“Though Apple is keeping the complex, the move this year to the grounded UFO known as Apple Park seems to mark an end to the era when Steve Jobs, every inch the hero in a Joseph Campbell narrative, rescued a company that no one wanted to die,” Levy writes. “For more than a year I’ve been interviewing Apple employees, past and present, about their recollections of Infinite Loop. In their own words, edited for clarity and concision, here is the story of a plot of land in Cupertino, California, that brought us the Mac revival, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, and the Steve Jobs legacy.”

It was Friday night before the 1996 Christmas holiday, and a friend of mine called me and said, “Don’t go home today without talking to me.” Four-thirty comes around, and he says, “Oh, you might as well go. Nothing’s going to happen.” Half an hour later, he told me to get back in here. Outside of Town Hall [the auditorium in IL4], I could recognize all the guys from the San Jose Mercury News—this event was meant for the press and not many Apple people were there. Our chief legal counsel goes to the podium and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here to announce that Apple Computer has acquired NeXT and I’d like to introduce Gil Amelio and Steve Jobs.” They came down the far aisle and I thought two things, “I am watching history right now” and “Oh my God! We’re saved!” — Shaan Pruden (senior director, partnership management, 1989–present)

Whenever I ate with Steve, he insisted on paying for me, which I thought was a little odd. Even if we went in together and he selected something quick like premade sushi, and I ordered a pizza in the wood-burning pizza oven, he would wait for me at the cash register for 10, 15 minutes. I felt so awkward. Finally, I told him. “Seriously, I can pay for myself, so please don’t stand there and wait for me.” He said, “Scott, you don’t understand. You know how we pay by swiping your badge and then it’s deducted from your salary? I only get paid a dollar year! Every time I swipe we get a free meal!” Here was this multibillionaire putting one over on the company he founded, a few dollars at a time. — Scott Forstall (SVP of software, 1997–2012)

Tons more in the full article – most highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: A must-read – which is typical of a Apple article by Steven Levy.

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