Jobs obsessed with equal intensity about the look of what would appear on the screen. One day Bill Atkinson burst into Texaco Towers all excited. He had just come up with a brilliant algorithm that could draw circles and ovals
onscreen quickly. The math for making circles usually required calculating square roots, which the 68000 microprocessor didn’t support. But Atkinson did a workaround based on the fact that the sum of a sequence of odd
numbers produces a sequence of perfect squares (for example, 1 + 3 = 4, 1 + 3 + 5 = 9, etc.). Hertzfeld recalled that when Atkinson fired up his demo, everyone was impressed except Jobs. “Well, circles and ovals are good,” he said, “but how about drawing rectangles with rounded corners?”
simple. Really simple.” Apple’s design mantra would remain the one featured on its first brochure: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Jobs felt that design simplicity should be linked to making products easy to use. Those goals do not always go together. Sometimes a design can be so sleek and simple that a user finds it intimidating or unfriendly to navigate.
“The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious,” Jobs told the crowd of design mavens. For example, he extolled the desktop metaphor he was creating for the Macintosh. “People know how to
deal with a desktop intuitively. If you walk into an office, there are papers on the desk. The one on the top is the most important. People know how to
switch priority. Part of the reason we model our computers on metaphors like the desktop is that we can leverage this experience people already have.”
Speaking at the same time as Jobs that Wednesday afternoon, but in a smaller seminar room, was Maya Lin, twenty-three, who had been catapulted into fame the previous November when her Vietnam Veterans Memorial was
dedicated in Washington, D.C. They struck up a close friendship, and Jobs invited her to visit Apple. “I came to work with Steve for a week,” Lin
recalled. “I asked him, ‘Why do computers look like clunky TV sets? Why don’t you make something thin? Why not a flat laptop?’”
Jobs replied that this
was indeed his goal,
as soon as the
technology was ready.