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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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The Lack of Secrecy in the Early Apple

All companies have secrets, of course. The origin of Apple’s culture of secrecy isn’t hard to understand. When the first Macintosh was in the late stages of development, some reporters knew many of the details. Writers such as the prominent technology journalist John Dvorak published inside knowledge of the Mac configuration, as well as business decisions and even conversations from Mac team meetings, before many Apple employees heard these details. Even Apple people in the know would grab up Dvorak’s latest column to see if he had any tidbits they hadn’t heard yet. So it didn’t surprise anyone that Microsoft and Sony had extensive knowledge about the Mac before it was unveiled.

Steve became so frustrated by the leaks that he had our main conference room swept for hidden microphones. He and I came up with a plan to expose one Mac team member we thought might be slipping stories to Dvorak. We concocted some bits of misinformation, which I casually mentioned to the suspect. Dvorak never published those details, so our man wasn’t the snitch, after all. (If he ever found out we had suspected him, I hereby apologize for our mistrust.)

I ran into Dvorak some 10 years later and said, “Okay, who was it?”

He didn’t have to ask what I was talking about. His response was, “It wasn’t one person. There were many.” So Apple had been like a sieve, leaking from many places.

The truth is that even Steve himself would sometimes curry favor with a particular ...

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