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?
One could also say it would be interesting how things might have turned out if Wozniak was more ambitious.
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.
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.
Makes me picture a variation of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Three Californias" trilogy based on your scenarios...
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.
Wherever I've worked the engineering team always locked the CEO away from themselves because he's a huge distraction.
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.
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.
It was a beautiful beast though and could heat a 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.
"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?'"