Throughout his life, Steve Jobs reinforced some of his own philosophies, such as his “rule of three” or his many inspirational phrases that are still repeated as a mantra in some industries today. But He was also branded a tyrant, despotic attitude and irresponsible father. The relationship with some subordinates was peculiar, to say the least. Such was the case with the temporary hiring of Michael Geary.
Unlike Bill Fernandez, Michael Geary wasn’t even hired. Michael Geary has an impressive resume: He has worked with leading programming companies, as an assembler, developer and director, in virtual reality, ethical hacking, at Microsoft, Google, Adobe, even for TV companies. However, her relationship with Steve Jobs was fleeting but left its mark for over forty years.
Michael Geary, Apple’s first employee, was fired before he was even hired
Michael Geary was one of the first professionals to approach an Apple computer that didn’t even exist yet, when Steve Jobs and Wozniak met every afternoon in that garage to mold the first Apple I. Geary described himself as “a scruffy-looking hippie” who met another “messy-looking, stinky hippie.” Yes, the second was Jobs. United by their love of electronics, the two hit it off quickly.
Geary was then working as a computer scientist in Palo Alto. In fact, nearly 50 years later as a consultant for IBM, he’s still under the influence of Silicon Valley. Jobs told him he was trying to start his own computer company, so a profile like his wouldn’t hurt: “I need a disassembler for the 6502 chip“.
The problem is that Geary had never worked with these tools before. And back then, a microprocessor like the 6502 cost a fortune to buy. He operated as an employee with mainframes, huge computers comparable to today’s data servers. So if you wanted to understand the chip’s assembly language, You would have to write your own disassembler program using emulation. Geary would use a mainframe of his work and an emulator to program for the 6502 chip without having to discard it. A good plan.
That same week, Geary got to work and began writing the disassembler code. But before he even sent it to Jobs, Steve called him and fired Welken: “They only work with mainframes and that’s for a microprocessor. […] Forget it.” A hit Geary took as a personal challenge: could program and would show. “I’ll write a partial proof of concept and visit you and show you the code.” Did.
The success that earned him a contract
Shortly after this event, Geary was looking for a phone that would appear in “the offices” of Apple Computer. When he found out the address, he actually came across a garage. And there were the two Steves working between their pots and pans. It seemed like a joke. “These guys are flakes“, he came to say, referring to someone who’s been a disappointment, a loser, someone who sets expectations but doesn’t live up to them. “You’ll never make it.” He was completely wrong there.
Geary says he met Jobs a few years later at a grocery store in Los Gatos, California. They chatted and relived their first meeting, laughed and caught up, but Geary didn’t tell him that he finally managed to write this program. What he did get, however, was a small commission.
Geary never considered Jobs’ first relationship on his resume. In fact, in his vast map of collaborations and projects, there is only one temporary contract in 1986. He spent a few months developing a gateway for Diplomat, an email tool for Macintosh. He wrote “scripts in a FORTH-based language” for a few weeks. And that was no more. But if It made an important impression on his memory and permeated his perspective on Steve Jobs.
It was many years later before Geary met Jobs again. It was at a restaurant in Menlo Park, California, and Jobs was sitting at a table next to him. Apparently he already looked distinctly ill from his pancreatic cancer. And Geary didn’t mean to bother or be rude. “I should have said hello. I should have told him I wrote this show. I didn’t have the courage to talk to him at the time. In the back of my mind I’ll always regret not talking to him that night.‘ he recalls. Steve died shortly thereafter.
Home | Originally by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (April 8, 2010, Cupertino, California).
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