Sculley happy Jobs' biography 'cleared up myths'

Former Apple CEO tells the BBC that when he left company in 1996, "Apple was actually a very profitable company."

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Steve Jobs and John Sculley back in the day. ZDNet

John Sculley and Steve Jobs had a "terrific relationship when things were going well," the one-time Apple CEO told the BBC in an interview published yesterday.

Although he said he hadn't read Walter Issacson's biography on the late Apple founder, Sculley seemed pleased that it "cleared up some of the myths--that I never really did fire Steve Jobs and that Apple was actually a very profitable company."

Sculley, who was recruited by Jobs to run the company in 1983, said he was brought into the company to extend the commercial lifespan of the Apple II to generate enough revenue to fund the Macintosh. Here is Sculley's wrap-up:

"When the Macintosh Office was introduced in 1985 and failed, Steve went into a very deep funk. He was depressed, and he and I had a major disagreement where he wanted to cut the price of the Macintosh and I wanted to focus on the Apple II because we were a public company.

"We had to have the profits of the Apple II and we couldn't afford to cut the price of the Macintosh because we needed the profits from the Apple II to show our earnings--not just to cover the Mac's problems.

"That's what led to the disagreement and the showdown between me and Steve, and eventually the board investigated it and agreed that my position was the one they wanted to support."

In the interview, conducted during a break this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sculley told the BBC that when he left Apple in 1996 after a disagreement with the board of directors, the company had $2 billion in cash.

"It was the most profitable computer company in the world--not just personal computers--and Apple was the No. 1 selling computer," Sculley said. "So the myth that I fired Steve wasn't true and the myth that I destroyed Apple, that wasn't true either."

The wide-ranging interview also touched on his history with Apple's Newton handheld ("Newton was probably 15 years too early") and why he is still active in the tech sector ("What intrigues me about the businesses that I have invested in over the years is always about there has to be a better way of doing something").

Sculley was at CES to promote Audax Health's Careverge health care social network.