John Sculley On Drawing The Mac Phone For Steve Jobs

We had a chance to sit down with the founders of Zeta Interactive — John Sculley and David Steinberg — last week to talk a bit about their online marketing service. But Sculley isn’t just known for that company, or the ones that came just before it where he worked with Steinberg.

He also had a stint running Apple, coming from running Pepsi in the middle of its highly-successful “The Pepsi Challenge” campaign. Jobs, convinced that computers would be consumer products, had asked to bring him on to learn from him, Sculley said.

And so, of course, we had to ask what his best stories about Steve Jobs are. The best of which, he told us, was when he sat down with Jobs to draw an early concept of the “Mac Phone.” This was in 1984, Sculley said, and at the time Jobs was toying around with the idea of a desktop phone powered by Mac software.

“He was not a drawer, he was a great visionary but he couldn’t draw,” Sculley said. “I could draw, I had studied design. So Steve would describe it to me, I’d draw it out.”

The process went back and forth, Sculley said, with Jobs asking for adjustments like making the screen bigger, the handset a little more different, and saying no most of the time along the way. But Apple made hard models of the phone, Sculley said, and years later he was sent a photo of the original Mac Phone he had helped design.

“The best definition of a genius is someone who sees the obvious 20 years ahead of the rest of us,” Sculley said.