Reverse Engineering the Steve Jobs Biographies: Part 2

this is my serious face

In the mid-80s, Steve and his company were flying high.

the FBI, on the other hand, were less than pleased

One problem was that Steve was trying to be an entrepreneur in an industry that was tightly but unofficially regulated due to the Cold War, and as someone from a middle-class background who hadn’t graduated from an elite institution (or any institution at all) he was viewed as highly unreliable by law enforcement, by competitors, and even by his own investors – who tried to install as much ‘adult supervision’ as possible, but largely failed to get him to take advice from that supervision

I empathize, unfortunately, despite being the polar opposite of that profile

Another interesting ‘problem’ was that Steve’s top notch models from the mid-80s to the mid-90s consistently used as many discrete components as possible, at a time when integrating multiple functions on to single chips to reduce manufacturing costs was becoming more common, even at Apple, whose supply chain was probably artificially constrained to begin with

all but three of the chips on this Macintosh Plus motherboard could be found in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc: the ROMs, which contained the basic operating instructions for the computer and were easily copied; and the disk controller, a unique Apple component designed by Steve Wozniak and known as the Internal Woz Machine, was easily replacable with a standard component

Naturally, the Soviets reverse-engineered it pretty quickly, though they never put it into production

probably because they’d made a major, high-profile deal with Motorola to actually purchase the 68000 processor rather than just ripping it off, which meant that Macintosh clones would have been prohibitively expensive to produce relative to other models

Meanwhile, Apple’s cheaper models got the VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) treatment, with more and more discrete components integrated within a single chip:

an Apple IIc Plus motherboard from the same period

an Apple IIgs motherboard from the same period

Essentially, Steve was engineering his computers so that they could be easily copied abroad – while still maintaining patent protection in the West.