By Thanksgiving of 1996 the two companies had begun

By Thanksgiving of 1996 the two companies had begun midlevel talks,

and Jobs picked up the phone to call Amelio directly. “I’m on my way to

Japan, but I’ll be back in a week and I’d like to see you as soon as I return,”

 

he said. “Don’t make any decision until we can get together.” Amelio,

despite his earlier experience with Jobs, was thrilled to hear from him and

entranced by the possibility of working with him. “For me, the phone call

 

with Steve was like inhaling the flavors of a great bottle of vintage wine,”

he recalled. He gave his assurance he would make no deal with

Be or anyone else before they got together.

 

For Jobs, the contest against Be was both professional and personal.

NeXT was failing, and the prospect of being bought by Apple was a

tantalizing lifeline. In addition, Jobs held grudges, sometimes passionately,

 

and Gassée was near the top of his list, despite the fact that they had seemed

to reconcile when Jobs was at NeXT. “Gassée is one of the few people in my life

I would say is truly horrible,” Jobs later insisted, unfairly. “He knifed me in the

 

back in 1985.” Sculley, to his credit, had at least been

gentlemanly enough to knife Jobs in the front.

On December 2, 1996, Steve Jobs set foot on Apple’s Cupertino campus for

 

the first time since his ouster eleven years earlier. In the executive conference

room, he met Amelio and Hancock to make the pitch for NeXT. Once again

he was scribbling on the whiteboard there, this time giving his lecture about

 

the four waves of computer systems that had culminated, at least in his telling,

with the launch of NeXT. He was at his most seductive, despite the fact that he

was speaking to two people he didn’t respect. He was particularly adroit at

 

feigning modesty. “It’s probably a totally crazy idea,” he said, but if they found

it appealing, “I’ll structure any kind of deal you want—license the software, sell

 

you the company, whatever.” He was, in fact, eager to sell everything, and he

pushed that approach. “When you take a close look, you’ll decide you want

more than my software,” he told

 

them. “You’ll want

to buy the whole

company and

take all the people.”

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