Steve Jobs Giving Big Blue the One-Finger Salute


Courtesy of Edible Apple, here’s Apple co-founder Steve Jobs giving the finger to the IBM logo in a photo that appears to date from “sometime in the early 80s.”

If you weren’t around or too young to remember those times, the rivalry wasn’t between Apple and Microsoft (in fact, the AppleSoft BASIC in the Apple ][ series of computers was produced under a Microsoft license), but between Apple and IBM, who introduced their Personal Computer, a.k.a. “PC” in 1981. We knew that this rivalry would become quite fierce when Apple fired the first PR salvo with this ad welcoming IBM to the personal computer industry, whose big players at the time were Apple, Radio Shack and Commodore:


I can’t remember if it was former Apple Evangelist (and one of my role models) Guy Kawasaki or former Apple UI guru Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini who made the astute observation that the PC was the responsibility of IBM’s “Entry-Level Systems” division, which it implied that the PC was something you’d use until you decided that you wanted a real computer.

Apple’s relationship with IBM has always been a little bit rocky, first with the rivalry and then with their ill-fated alliance in the 1990s. This alliance produced only one thing I would consider a “semi-success” – the PowerPC chip, which was completely dumped by the end of 2006 – and a number of flops that came from the Taligent and Kaleida projects, including “Pink”, “Blue” and ScriptX (which, unlike Pink and Blue, actually made it to the :half-baked” stage; I actually got to noodle with during my early days at Mackerel Interactive Multimedia). The alliance, which was meant to counter the threat of an increasingly powerful Microsoft never quite made sense to me, nor did it to Guy Kawasaki, who once likened it to two people getting married because they hate the same person.

The nature of the IBM/Apple relationship lives on in the current legal battle between IBM and Apple over Mark Papermaster’s hire, which is why I’m sure Edible Apple found the photo interesting.

3 replies on “Steve Jobs Giving Big Blue the One-Finger Salute”

IBM actually introduced a personal computer in October 1975, the IBM 5100. This predated even the Apple I (1976), let alone the Apple II (1977), and was far more impressive than anything Apple made for years. I have one (built in 1976 I think) and it still works just fine. For Apple to have pretended that it didn’t exist, and claim to have “invented the first personal computer system”, displays Steve Jobs’ arrogance even more than the photo does.

The mentality behind apple has always been to create a computer that is an extension of the human “touch”. I agree with you that Apple didn’t really realize their notion of Personal Computer till in my opinion the launch of the original Mac. I own a working Apple IIe and to me it was as primitive as the IBM 5100. You really couldn’t expect a lot of at that time and era, but Apple always pushed that personalized touch. Was it arrogant? Yes. But looking at it now, IBM could never compete with Microsoft and they never made a competent OS (Software) solution of their own, instead they bowed down and took it in the back from Microsoft.

That kind of statements is what has driven Apple. Boldness. And he gave them the finger then, because they could, and they still do.

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