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Apple's 1978 office floor plan (cdespinosa.posterous.com)
258 points by ryannielsen on Nov 3, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments



It's interesting to see the toilet is in the center of the building. When Jobs took over Pixar the new campus development was planning to build three separate buildings: for creatives, for producers and for business people. But Jobs insisted that they be brought under one roof, with toilets at the centre — because that’s where everyone meets and talks.


It works too. The atrium is a very common chance meeting place, and that's nearly 100% due to the coffee, conf. rooms, and bathrooms being centrally situated.


This is a also applicable to residential architecture - I lived in several large student houses in Austin, and the houses whose floorplans required new arrivals to pass through common spaces (living room, kitchen) on the way to their private rooms invariably had closer and more general ties than those that did not.


No coffee? :-(


It's interesting to see that in such an early year, Jobs and Woz's offices are almost as far apart as they could possibly be in the building.


It's because Woz always wanted to stay as an engineer, not as a manager. That's why Jobs and Markkula is one place while Woz near the software team.


You could also say, conversely, that Jobs placed himself next to Markkula instead of Woz, finding it more important to sit next to the VP of marketing than the chief engineer.

I'm not making any judgements on the way they organized the physical space in the office. It clearly worked, after all, Apple in 1978 was on the precipice of an unprecedented success.

I'm just interested in the way that the physical location of people in an office affects the work that is done there. I wonder, would the early history of Apple had been any different if Jobs and Woz had sat right next to each other every day?

How many startups today seat the technical and business co-founders next to one another, versus those that sit far apart, and how does that change the personalities of those companies?


According to Isaacson's biography, it was Markkula who insisted that Jobs be heavily involved in the non-engineering areas of the company.


According to the same book, Wozniak specifically insisted at some point that he would prefer to be treated as an engineer and not be involved with high-level management.

One could also say it would be interesting how things might have turned out if Wozniak was more ambitious.


On the subject of counterfactuals, I recently finished reading Jobs' bio and Woz's autobiography and found myself contemplating how their lives would have turned out if they hadn't met each other.

It seems easy to project the most likely outcome for Woz if he hadn't met Jobs - he'd probably still be an engineer at HP (assuming he didn't get laid off by one of their disastrous CEOs), his Apple ][ board a forgotten relic sitting in his garage. Less likely but still possible is that someone else would have helped him commercialize it, but there never would have been a Macintosh as we know it and the company would have ended up like Commodore, Tandy, and Atari.

With Jobs, though, it's much more difficult to imagine where he'd have ended up without Woz. I could see him pushing Atari into PCs (but Bushnell didn't want the Apple ][, so that seems unlikely), or he could have been a religious leader, or a burned-out hippie living in Humboldt County, or a tyrannical Silicon Valley middle manager, or any number of other things.


Here's a random theory:

They would've met each other a little later, and done the same thing. Jobs and Wozniak orbited each other a few times before they really connected professionally. If you change one little thing so they wouldn'tve met each other, they would've met each other some other way.

And if you change enough things so that they NEVER would've met each other, you'dve changed enough things that they wouldn't really be Steve Jobs and Woz anymore.


We're doing counter-factuals. So what if it's not "never met", but "never went into to business together". Is it really hard to believe that fate could have conspired in such a way that Woz and Jobs didn't become business partners? Was the universe really curved in such a way to inevitably push Woz and Jobs to start Apple together?


> With Jobs, though, it's much more difficult to imagine where he'd have ended up without Woz. I could see him pushing Atari into PCs (but Bushnell didn't want the Apple ][, so that seems unlikely), or he could have been a religious leader, or a burned-out hippie living in Humboldt County, or a tyrannical Silicon Valley middle manager, or any number of other things.

Makes me picture a variation of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Three Californias" trilogy based on your scenarios...


This is correct. In fact, the book said this was what finally got Woz to quit HP and go full time at Apple: One of his friends told him he could start a company without going into management, which he hadn't realized. Jobs had convinced all these friends and family to lobby him, but none of it worked until he was told he could stay an engineer.


Interested in why you use the word "ambitious" there. Woz most likely wanted to remain in engineering. That was (and is) his love and his ambition. Senior management probably didn't interest him in the slightest.


I don't know if you've heard about the Empathizing–Systemizing theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathizing%E2%80%93systemizing...) which was originally developed to explain autism, but basically engineers typically have very strong systemizing traits. Surprisingly, this also makes them good at certain aspects of high-level planning. I suspect that the current CEO Tim Cook has an excellent systemizing (as well as negotiating) mind, which would partly explain his great deeds in the supply chain operations.

Some people would argue that it was Wozniak's engineering mind that made him not want to pursue management. I would argue that the engineering mind is actually quite useful in management and that a lot of business leaders possess it (think Bill Gates). My hypothesis is that if Wozniak became as ambitious and controlling as Jobs was after the two met, the pair either would have fallen apart violently at some point or would have created an empire the size of Microsoft early on.


It's also interesting to see that the CEO and CFO shared an office, while some key engineers had private offices.


It might have something to do with the fact that marketing people are on the phone a lot and engineers have to focus a lot.

Wherever I've worked the engineering team always locked the CEO away from themselves because he's a huge distraction.


Typically, the CEO is "locked away" in a spacious corner office and the engineers have to make do with cubes.


If the CEO never had to meet people from outside the company, I'm sure his office would be less spacious.


And if engineers never had to concentrate and focus to get their work done, I'm sure their workspaces would be open to auditory and visual distraction. Don't think for a minute that the typical business allocates these resources based on practicality rather than status.


Businesses exist to make money, not to serve as a bed for some perverse status assertions. Not saying that the latter ones never happen; just pointing out the basic facts.


Most human social behavior is "a bed for perverse status assertions", business included.

The CEO's I worked for, incidentally, tended to spend at least half their time flying around the country, leaving the spacious corner office empty more often than not. Is that really the most pragmatic solution? No, just an artifact for signaling "I am the boss". It's not like it's something people stop to think about when designing office space. And when it is, it says something interesting about a company.


Most CEO's I've worked with were startup CEO's and were locked away in the smallest most uncomfortable corner somewhere because the engineers reigned supreme and needed to get shit done on their dual monitors and needed plenty space for laptops and stuff.


I'm not questioning the good sense of this arrangement, but I find it an interesting glimpse at the balance of power at the company.


Sign of the times: three secretary/receptionists for a 20 person company. I suspect they were the only female employees, too.


And a room for "Xerox."


Not true ( I don't think.) I know Susan Kare designed the icons, and she was working for Apple around the time of the Macintosh.


dsr_ 1 is correct. On that floor plan, at least, the only women are secretaries or receptionists.

Susan Kare desiged the icons, as you say, but that was years later. In 1978, the Apple ][ was still only a year old itself.

The Macintosh isn't really that early in Apple history, for those of us who grew up with Apple ][s.


My grandparents had an Advent when I was a kid. That thing probably spat out more radiation than I ever would care to research.

It was a beautiful beast though and could heat a room.


Youngen here: Might I ask what an Advent is? It's a hard thing to Google.


An Advent was a three tube projection system. It had a triangular arrangement of the CRT's, one red, one green, one blue. You had to focus and align them yourself, but with a good screen you could get a pretty good looking 60" television. It required a dark room.

Since it sat in the middle of the floor, it was subject to kids bumping into it (in my grandparents home anyhow) and also then subject to grandfathers shouting.

He later replaced it with a front projection set that bounced the CRT projectors off a mirror onto a screen. It was a beast.


It says at the bottom: "“Advent” was not a religious sanctuary, it was the demo room with the $3,000 projection TV[1] that we used for demos to Important People."

[1]: http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Vintage-Advertisement-1978-ADVENT-VID...


Funny how everyone is mentioned by their first name except Steve and Woz.


It would be a bit confusing to have two 'Steve' offices.


I also think it's interesting that with Jobs and Woz's offices being across the building from each other, that forces them to walk past everyone else to talk to each other in person. That has to make it easier for founders and executives to keep track of how things are going in the trenches. That could also make employees feel that management doesn't consider themselves "above" them.


Tennis Courts!


It's tennis courts?


Maybe it was ping-pong table "courts".


From the article:

"The building had four quadrants: Marketing/Admin, Engineering, Manufacturing, and a large empty space that we did not know what to do with when we moved in. That’s why it’s labeled 'Tennis courts?'"




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