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Apple faithful stay true

The faith of Apple's employees is legendary, and that remains true even after today's layoff announcements.

CUPERTINO, California--The unshakable faith of Apple employees is legendary in the unpredictable industry of high technology.

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That seemed to be true even today, even after the sobering news of cutbacks, even with the knowledge that they could be losing their jobs.

Outside Apple Computer's main research and development building--one area of the company expected to absorb many cuts--most employees were reluctant to talk about the day's events. But the few who did were optimistic that Apple the company would rebound from its current troubles, and some even went so far as to say that the company should have cut more to ensure its survival.

"We've got some great products," said one engineer on the ill-fated Newton handheld computer project, often portrayed emblematically as an example of everything that can go wrong with a high-tech product. He appeared unfazed by persistent rumors that his division might be put up for sale.

Employees walk from the main R&D building past yard sculpture of popular Apple software icons.
Despite the announcement that Apple would lay off 2,700 full-time workers and 1,400 part-time and temporary employees, the disposition here seemed to reflect the characteristically sunny climate of this Santa Clara County suburb in the heart of Silicon Valley. Seemingly oblivious to the TV cameras and reporters gathered nearby, dozens of workers milled about the sprawling campus.

"It's a great company. Every company goes through cycles," said another employee who has been with Apple for eight years. "It's the best job I've ever had."

Still, others were understandably concerned about the announcements, wondering aloud whether they were on CEO Gil Amelio's much-publicized "hit list."

William Moore of the Pippin team is interviewed about the announcements.
William Moore of the Pippin software team, an Apple employee for four years, said his first concerns if he were to be laid off would be "how to pay the rent, how to eat." He's worried that Pippin may be one of the targets of the cuts.

Paul Nicholas, a contract employee who has worked in the Macintosh engineering quality lab, seemed straightforward: "It was an extremely stressful day." Nicholas was particularly anxious because he works on a contract basis, making his tenure unpredictable even during profitable times.

But he and others did get at least one hopeful sign, albeit from a company other than Apple. Recruiters from Aerotek, a San Jose contract engineering firm, fanned out across the employee parking lot in search of prospective workers.

The lucky ones will have gotten business cards stuck in their windows.

Photos by Donald R. Winslow