Years later, when I raised it with him, Gates did not recall being

Years later, when I raised it with him, Gates did not recall being that upset.

The purchase of NeXT, he argued, did not really give Apple a new operating

system. “Amelio paid a lot for NeXT, and let’s be frank, the NeXT OS was never


really used.” Instead the purchase ended up bringing in Avie Tevanian, who

could help the existing Apple operating system evolve so that it eventually

incorporated the kernel of the NeXT technology. Gates knew that the deal was


destined to bring Jobs back to power. “But that was a twist of fate,” he said.

“What they ended up buying was a guy who most people would not have

predicted would be a great CEO, because he didn’t have much experience at it,


but he was a brilliant guy with great design taste and great engineering taste.

He suppressed his craziness enough to get himself appointed interim CEO.”


Despite what both Ellison and Gates believed, Jobs had deeply conflicted feelings

about whether he wanted to return to an active role at Apple, at least while Amelio

was there. A few days before the NeXT purchase was due to be announced, Amelio


asked Jobs to rejoin Apple full-time and take charge of operating system

development. Jobs, however, kept deflecting Amelio’s request.


Finally, on the day that he was scheduled to make the big announcement, Amelio

called Jobs in. He needed an answer. “Steve, do you just want to take your money

and leave?” Amelio asked. “It’s okay if that’s what you want.” Jobs did not answer;


he just stared. “Do you want to be on the payroll? An advisor?” Again Jobs stayed

silent. Amelio went out and grabbed Jobs’s lawyer, Larry Sonsini, and asked what

he thought Jobs wanted. “Beats me,” Sonsini said. So Amelio went back

behind closed doors with Jobs and gave it one more try.


“Steve, what’s on your mind?

What are you feeling?

Please, I need

a decision now.”

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