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The Secret of Macintosh

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If you're fine with believing that Apple Computer is just an extremely lucky computer company, that's okay. Forget this chapter and consider it "read." So, if you're afraid of losing sleep over hearing the truth, the naked truth, then close this book and go on with your gray-flannel life. No harm done. But for everyone else, you've been duly warned. You know the consequences — continue at your own risk.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

You've come a long way, my friend. You've reached a place that others only dare to dream of. A place where mysteries unfold, secrets are unearthed, confidences are broken, funds are mismanaged, privileges are abused, videos are returned late, and others are blamed. Yes, my friends, this is Chapter 11. Where you learn the real secret of Macintosh.

I have to make a disclaimer before we go any further. Some of the things you're about to read you may find shocking. The language will often be coarse and abrasive, the imagery frank and revealing. Some of you may find many of these concepts disturbing; but to get where Apple is today, certain things had to be done. People were used. Lied to. Deceived. In some cases, people were asked to do things, and wear awkwardly fitting outer-garments that some might find cruel and objectionable. But you have to keep in mind—it was to reach a higher plane.

Now, if you're fine with believing that Apple Computer is just an extremely lucky computer company, that's okay. Close the book and consider it "read." There's no shame in admitting you don't want to tarnish the image of Apple that you have implanted in your mind. So, if you're afraid of losing sleep over hearing the truth, the naked truth, then close this book and go on with your gray-flannel life. No harm done. But for everyone else, you've been duly warned. You know the consequences—continue at your own risk.

What I'm about to reveal will anger many people. It will betray a confidence that has been passed directly from person to person for more than 15 years; but I think it's time it was brought out in the open.

The secret of Macintosh is that Apple Computer is actually a cult. I don't mean some cutesy cult, like people who are really into Mazda Miatas or who go to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at every midnight showing. I mean a real-life cult that preys on people who have serious conflicts and struggles in their lives. Maybe a bad childhood, a failed marriage, perhaps they're living a life filled with emptiness and pain. They're at a vulnerable stage in their lives and they'll become engrossed in anything or anyone that offers them "a way out"—a sense of purpose or belonging. Steve Jobs is, and has always been, the cult leader. Even when not at Apple, he controlled the cult, much in the same way imprisoned gang leaders still control their gangs' activities from behind bars.

Although it has evolved greatly over the years, the cult is primarily founded upon the teachings of a late 19th-century Prussian poet and author Alfred Burkhalter. It was Burkhalter who wrote a paper which many believe was the precursor to the entire Apple revolution. But it was his grandson, Otto Burkhalter, who emigrated from his post-World War I home in Bern, Switzerland to Düsseldorf, Germany to continue his grandfather's work, decades before anyone had even thought of modern computers.

Otto went on to compose what is known to Apple cult members today as "The underground Macintosh manifesto"—thought by many to be the blueprint Steve Jobs used to form his Apple cult some forty years later.

Sadly, Burkhalter's work was never completed because of Germany's entry into World War II, and his subsequent service in the German Army.

Herr Burkhalter eventually became a general in the German Army, and wound up in charge of several World War II military prison camps where U.S. and other Allied prisoners of war were held.

General Burkhalter would often visit these camps and threaten the commanding officer (the Kommandant) of the camp, and his second-in-command, Sergeant Schultz—usually because either Lebeau or Col. Hogan had escaped through an underground tunnel, and was caught drinking with the fräuleins in Berlin. He would yell things like, "Klink! I'm sending you to the front!" and other threats of military discipline. You're not really buying any of this crap, are you? Because honestly, I'm just making it up as I go (partially to illustrate a point, and partially as a tribute to Hogan's Heroes). By the way, if history is any indicator, some PC journalist will take segments of this cobbled-up story and use it as the basis of an investigative report that will gain nationwide attention.

Whatever the mainstream media, and magazines like Forbes, would like you to believe, there is no "Cult of Macintosh." No secret handshakes, no robes, no blood oaths; and although Steve Jobs has a lot of charisma, is Apple's leader and a genius, he is not a "charismatic evil genius."

Headlines and news pieces about the "Cult of Macintosh" sell magazines and newspapers, because people that don't "get Apple" think that's the only explanation of why millions would voluntarily choose something other than a beige PC running Windows. It just doesn't make sense to them that people would care for a company the way people do about Apple, and that people would fall in love with a company's product the way people do with a Macintosh. Really, when you think about this, it's sad. It's sad how closeminded we've become as a society, and how brainwashed we've been to accept second best.

There is a secret to Macintosh, and there is a secret to Apple and their seemingly unexplainable success. We'll start with Apple. The secret to Apple's success is "you." Plain and simple, it's you. The person reading this book. If you're reading this book, I can almost guarantee you this—Apple owes you. Why? Because you sell Macintosh computers. You are probably among Apple's top sales people, and the real reason why Apple is such a success.

Let's face it, although Apple's advertising under Steve Jobs is probably the best it's ever been, for most of Apple's history many people would agree that it fell somewhere between an absolute joke and a total disgrace. So what kept Apple afloat all those years? We did, you did, I did. Our friends did. How? By getting our families and friends to buy Macs.

I'll give you an example. Back in the late '80s I bought my first Mac. A few years later I bought my wife her first Mac. Not long after, my brother bought his first Mac and my best friend, John Couch, bought his first Mac. Before long, my brother bought his second Mac, and not too long afterward my dad bought his first Mac. Soon my brother bought a Mac for his office, and one of his best friends bought a Mac. His next girlfriend bought a Mac, and his current girlfriend uses nothing but Macs. When my son was 2 years old, he got his first Mac (a tangerine iMac), and now he also uses an iBook.

Years ago, I convinced my friend Jim Workman to buy a Mac. Jim bought his wife a Mac, his mother a Mac, some Macs for his old business, and dozens of Macs for his current business. He bought his brother a Mac and his 7-year-old son Kevin has an iMac, too.

With never a sales commission being paid, without a single kickback or even a thank you, we've all become the best, most enthusiastic, tireless, well-trained sales force the computing world has ever seen. We sell Macintosh computers by the truckload, every day, all around the world! We sell them to our families, our most trusted friends, new acquaintances, anyone who will listen. We are a wildly motivated sales force that makes the best Amway reps look passive and disinterested by comparison.

Why do we do it? This is going to sound silly, but we do it because we know it's going to make people happy, and that makes us happy. I know, that sounds very "touchy-feely," but I honestly believe that's why we do it—because making someone's life better makes us happy.

Here's an example of what I mean: My Brother Jeff loves to travel in Europe. Over the years, he had been to Paris a number of times, and really loved the city. Back in 1983 he was going to Paris again and was nice enough to invite me to go with him. After we arrived in Paris, he really wanted to take me on le Métro (their name for a subway) and get off at a specific stop near the Champs Élysées. His reason was that when you came up the steps from this particular Métro stop to the street level, the awe-inspiring l'Arc de Triomphe was standing majestically before you. He thought it was really breathtaking and moving, and he wanted me to have that same thrill. He made sure he got up the Métro stairs before I did, so he could see my face as I saw the architectural marvel for the first time.

As you might have guessed, when I saw it I was absolutely speechless. But somehow, I think my brother got more out of it than I did. That's because he got to share something with me that had been very special for him. Seeing my reaction, knowing that he had shared his special moment with me, made him happy. I guarantee he can remember the moment that he brought me to l'Arc de Triomphe as clearly as the day he saw it himself for the first time.

Some years later, I was the first one up those Métro stairs, and was lucky enough to see my soon-to-be wife come up that very same staircase. Watching her see l'Arc de Triomphe for the first time actually brought a tear to my eyes, as I got to share that very special moment with her. That made me very, very happy. This is what I'm talking about.

Getting to share the wonder of Macintosh with someone you care about is (corny as this may sound) very special. You've found something that you think is wonderful, unique, fascinating, even exciting; and you want to tell everyone you can and share this special news. You want to relive that moment when you "got it." When you realized this is more than just another dumb computer. It's something special. Every time you turn someone on to the Mac, and you see them "get it," it makes you feel good inside. You just helped someone. It's like telling somebody about a great little restaurant, or a special deal at a store that nobody knows about. You've shared something to make someone happy, without any personal gain except the feeling that you did something good for somebody. That's pretty damn neat.

What's the other half?

So now you know half of the story—the secret to Apple's success—which is having the world's largest, best-trained, most motivated, unpaid sales force. Now, what's the other half—what is the rest of the secret to Macintosh? What is so friggin' great about the Macintosh, that otherwise perfectly sane people will go against the grain, willingly turn away from computers that are more popular, offer tons more software, more peripherals, more support, more variety, and yet actually cost less money to buy? The secret of the Macintosh is (drum roll, please...) the Mac's sheer simplicity. It is, plain and simple, the easiest computer on the planet to learn, use, and maintain. Anyone can learn to use a Macintosh. Anyone. And that same person will be able to connect a Zip drive, a scanner, and a digital camcorder, without any previous computing experience.

For example: When you buy a Mac printer, on the end of the cable is a little icon of a printer. To find out where the printer plugs into your Mac, just look at the back of your Mac to find the matching jack. That's it. That's the way it's always been. No instructions. No engineering degree necessary. Match the little icon on the cord to the little icon on your Mac, and it's connected. That's the way the Macintosh has been designed from the ground up. You plug it in, and it works. First time. On the Macintosh, plug-and-play is a way of life—always has been.

One of the best visual manifestations of the simplicity of the Macintosh I ever experienced was at Macworld Expo when Apple introduced its iMovie software for making your own movies. Two long rows of iMacs were set up in the Apple pavilion, and attached to the wall behind each iMac was a digital camcorder. It was connected to the iMac and turned on, so if you walked up to the iMac you'd see yourself on its screen. People were standing two and three deep to walk up and try iMovie themselves.

There was no instruction manual. No training video. No instructions of any kind and people were right there making movies (with themselves as the stars). When it was my turn, before I realized it, I too was making movies. Totally without help, guidance, or instruction of any kind. I was adding titles, transitions, effects, and I fell in love with it right on the spot—it was brilliant. So there we were, in the middle of 80,000 people on a crowded show floor, row upon row of us making our first iMovies, all on our own. That is the power of the Mac's simplicity at its best. Powerful software that is so easy, so intuitive, so user-friendly that it doesn't need an instruction manual.

So why does this stuff all work so well together? Why does plug-and-play work so perfectly on a Mac, when on a PC it's more like "plug-and-pray?" Why is the software so easy to learn on a Mac, but on a PC, each new program has a separate learning curve? It's because Apple makes both the hardware and the operating system; therefore, it has control. It has clear standards for Mac software and hardware developers, and to develop for the Macintosh platform, you have to follow Apple's standards.

Here's a classic case in point: Since the very beginning, Apple has made it a standard that the word software developers would use to quit a Macintosh software program would be "Quit." Always. The keyboard shortcut must always be Command-Q, and the place where Quit must appear in every Mac software package is as the last item in the File menu. That's the rule, and that's the way it works to this very day. So when you install a new program for the very first time, without ever reading the instruction manual, you already know how to Quit, what the keyboard shortcut is, and where to find it in the new program's menus.

However, on the PC there is no absolute set of rules developers must follow, so they can use any word they want to quit a program—Exit, End, Stop, Escape, Get me outta here, Leave, Shut Down—it's up to the individual developer (though many now follow Apple's lead and just use Quit). They can also use any keyboard shortcut they want, and place the command under any menu they desire, leaving you to figure out how to quit each program. It sounds silly, and it is.

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