part two

Hell, there are no rules here—we’re trying to accomplish something.

Thomas Edison

Reality Distortion Field

February 1981

Bud defines Steve’s unique talent

I officially started on the Mac project on a Thursday afternoon, and Bud Tribble—my new manager and the only other software person on the project—was out of town. Bud was on leave of absence from an M.D./Ph.D. program, and he occasionally had to return to Seattle to keep up his standing in the program.

Bud usually didn’t come into work until after lunch, so I met with him for the first time the following Monday afternoon. We started talking about all the work that had to be done, which was pretty overwhelming. He showed me the official software development schedule that had us shipping in about 10 months, in early January 1982.

“Bud, that’s crazy!” I told him. “We’ve hardly even started yet. There’s no way we can get it done by then.”

“I know,” he responded in a low voice, almost a whisper.

“You know? If you know the schedule is off-base, why don’t you correct it?”

“Well, it’s Steve. Steve insists that we’re shipping in early 1982 and won’t accept answers to the contrary. The best way to describe the situation is a term from Star Trek. Steve has a reality distortion field.”

“A what?”

“A reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s ...

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