"Mr. Jobs?" the small, tinny voice said through the intercom speaker. "It's Fed-Ex, we got a package for ya."
"Sure, sure, come on through," Steve said into the little box, his finger depressing a small, shiny brown button. "Let it off next to the gazebo half-way up the drive."
Steve Jobs smiled so wide his face hurt. The Fed-Ex truck was passing through his gate and would be at the gazebo in his front yard any second now. He stepped through his front door, hopped down his porch steps, and strode down a brick path shaded by willows. Even now he heard a roaring diesel engine and chirping brakes as the dusty delivery truck wandered along his drive. He jumped all three brick steps up to his gazebo and seated himself on a small park bench.
Steve sighed as he crossed his legs, put his hands behind his head, and waited. The sounds of the Fed-Ex truck were getting closer now among his veritable forest of spruces, pines, and firs that dotted his impossibly large lawn. He'd been waiting for almost a month for this delivery, the culmination of painstaking secret meetings with IBM over the course of 2005. And now Steve was just moments from enjoying the unique fruits of his labors and deal-making.
Steve's smile grew even larger.
With a final cacophony of squealing brakes, clinking chains, and grinding gear-shifts, the Fed-Ex truck stopped several yards away from the gazebo, next to another small walk that led from his drive. Steve stood up and waved to them.
"Hey guys, right here!" he shouted as he descended the steps to the walk.
Two men emerged from the truck's cab, one looking over a clipboard. The driver was a short, squat man with an orange handlebar mustache that crept down his neck. His name tag was covered in oil and grease and read Grunt. The man with the clipboard was tall and lanky and had a shock of white hair exploding from the back of his dirty, crumpled baseball cap. He had Stretch stitched above his uniform's right breast pocket.
"Gentlemen, gentlemen!" Steve said, approaching them. He pulled a pen from his pants pocket. "Where do I sign?"
Stretch looked up from his clipboard at the overenthusiastic middle-aged weirdo standing in front of him.
"Ah, just sign here, bottom copy's yers," Stretch said, extending the clipboard to Steve.
Steve barely bothered signing, trailing his pen along the page just hard enough to leave a wavy line, ripped the bottom copy out from the clipboard and stuffed it into his pocket, and shoved the paperwork back at Stretch.
"Can you and you guys dolly it up to the gazebo and leave it there?" Steve asked.
"Sure thing, mister," Stretch said as he turned towards the back of the truck.
"And if you and your friend do it quickly and quietly," Steve began, stopping Stretch where he was, "there might be something extra in it for you."
Steve rubbed his fingers together, implying money.
Stretch looked at this partner and then back to Steve.
"We'll gitcha taken care of real quick," he said to Steve, attempting to smile. It didn't look like something he practiced often.
Minutes later, a large box about the size of a refrigerator stood in the middle of Steve's gazebo. It was plain and unmarked save for some stickers that read THIS SIDE UP and CAUTION: FRAGILE. Steve waved at Grunt as he slowly backed down the drive. Stretch never looked up but was busy counting a small wad of crisp green bills as they edged away.
Steve walked over to one of the columns of his gazebo and opened what looked like a fuse box. Inside were two black buttons, labeled with two arrows, one pointing up and the other pointing down. He hit the button next to the down-pointing arrow, and the gazebo shook lightly.
"Finally," Steve said aloud to himself.
The gazebo dropped completely out of sight and was replaced by a plain concrete court that emerged seconds later from just under the lawn.
Steve wheeled the dolly, carrying the huge box, into his private office. The walls were solid earth, covered with an intricate series of pipes and wires and tubes all running in different directions. Dim fluorescent lights hung from fixtures in the dirt ceiling of the grotto. Steve's desk and filing cabinet cast shadows against the dark sodden floor. Steve set the dolly down in a bare spot next to a computer desk and exhaled.
Producing a box-cutter from his back pocket, he began cutting at the rope and tape that sealed the cardboard box together. He was careful, making his cuts gingerly as if he might break something precious inside. Sweat beaded on his brow and he readjusted his spectacles several times. He bit his tongue in concentration as he cut around the bottom of the box. With another swipe, the packaging was shaken loose.
Steve disappeared for a few second to a dark corner of his office and reappeared seconds later dragging a large cord behind him. At the end of the cord was a huge metal plug with different pieces of metal jutting out from it. Steve hauled it nearer to the box and threw it down, breathing hard. He wiped the sweat from his brow as he dropped to all four and began dragging the cord behind the box, looking for a place to plug it in. With a satisfying metal clack, he backed up and stood away.
An electric hum filled the cavern.
"Time to see what this baby can do," Steve said to himself.
Steve stepped forward, grabbing the cardboard that now hung loosely from the thing. With one swift motion he flung the packaging off of the object and to the floor and stood back. Before him on a metal pedestal stood something that looked like a cross between a transformer and a portable restroom. It was a muted grey-blue in color and came to a soft apex at its top. It stood a whole head taller than Steve.
Steve stepped closer to it with a towel in his hand. Emblazoned in the middle of its front was a large chrome Apple logo that shown brightly enough tomake Steve blink. He took is towel and started to polish the apple. He polished the chrome text immediately below it, too, taking care to make sure it gleamed and shined. It was the machine's model. It read: Power Mac G6.
He stepped back again, admiring the monstrosity. With quick motion he kicked a button near the bottom of the thing, and the humming increased in intensity. On the desk next to the machine a 30" Cinema Display blinked to life and started scrolling white text on a black background — the Power Mac G6 was booting!
Steve sat down at his desk. Before he could look at the monitor, however, it had already booted to his desktop. Steve worked out the math on his fingers and realized it had taken less than ten seconds from the time he hit the power button to the time the system was ready to go. Wiggling his top-secret Bluetooth Mighty Mouse, Steve wheeled around the desktop and wondered what to do first.
With a sudden inspiration, Steve clicked the iChat icon. It was done loading before the icon had bounced once, ready and asking for his name and password. People would never buy another Power Mac G5 if they knew this existed, Steve thought as he marveled at the G6's speed. It had to be at least a full magnitude faster than the G5. After entering his information, Steve logged in and checked out his buddy list.
Steve smiled as he messaged Phil Schiller.
Steve Jobs: what up, bitch-boy?
Phil Schiller: hey Steve, what's up?
Steve Jobs: oh, nothing, just checking out my new Power Mac G6.
Phil Schiller: lol. nice try, but those don't exist.
Steve Jobs: sure, keep telling yourself that. How's your Developer Transition Kit running?
Phil Schiller: pretty good. tt's about as fast as the G5. wish it had dual processors though.
Steve Jobs: try sixty-four processors.
Phil Schiller: lol, yeah right steve. so what're you really up to?
Steve Jobs: i'm serious. i'm chatting to you with sixty-four processors.
Phil Schiller: you can't be, steve. even with the new G5s you're only running a total of four.
Steve Jobs: how much memory do you have?
Steve Jobs: because i bet I'm running more.
Phil Schiller: a gig.
Steve Jobs: only a gig? ha! i'm using that just for file system cache.
Steve Jobs: i'm playing with thirty-two gigs, phil.
Phil Schiller: shut up.
Steve Jobs: i think i'm gonna go play fifty copies of DOOM 3.
Steve Jobs: have fun on your suck-ass system, I'll catch you later.
With that, Steve signed off. Steve then dove for the Utilities folder and opened System Profiler, rubbing his hands together as he anticipated all of the very large numbers he was about to see. A gigabyte seemed like child's play now, a mere piffle. System Profiler finished loading the system information and Steve clicked on the Hardware category. He rocked back and forth as he read the numbers.
|Machine Name:||Power Mac G6|
|Number of CPUs:||64|
|CPU Speed:||2.0 GHz|
|L2 Cache (per CPU):||1.92 MB|
|L3 Cache:||288 MB|
|Bus Speed:||2.0 GHz|
|Boot ROM Version:||4.9.6f3|
|Sales Order Number:|
Steve's eyes continued wandering up and down the list of numbers, shining in awe. He glanced over at the blue-grey hulk, comprehending the incalculably powerful hardware contained within the slick metal tower that his system so plainly described on its own screen. He chuckled to himself at his system's penis-extending numbers one last time and closed System Profiler.
Bringing up the Applications folder, Steve proceeded to open iTunes. He fished the new Depeche Mode album out of his CD case and stuck it into the CD-ROM slot in the front of the G6 tower. iTunes gathered track and artist info from the Internet and presented it to Steve. He scrolled his mouse to the upper-right corner of his iTunes window and hit the import button.
Steve hit the import button again, but was met this time by a dialogue box, which asked him if he wanted to replace the existing tracks or not. He hit replace, and then watched as nothing happened yet again. Confounded, he ejected the Depeche Mode and inserted Grace Jones's Nightclubbing. After loading the track info, he hit the import button again. And once again, nothing happened.
His new system hadn't even been running for ten minutes and already it was acting weird. He knew it was a one-of-a-kind, a prototype, but he and his secret team of Apple and IBM engineers had spent months painstakingly debugging this system. It was perfect, a pure expression of visionary thought and superb engineering, polished and cared for and given birth to. And it wouldn't rip tracks in iTunes.
"What the fuck!" Steve shouted.
He ejected the CD, replaced it, and decided to check his iTunes library. To his surprise, he found both albums sitting there waiting to be played. Unsure of what he saw, he clicked on the tracks and checked their info. They had just been added a minute ago. Steve blinked and realized: iTunes had ripped these albums so fast he hadn't even seen it.
"Holy fucking shit," Steve said aloud. "Holy fucking shit."
Steve swallowed as he stared intently at the screen.
"I can't wait to try CockBand on this bad-boy."
YOU PUT THE BOOM-BOOM INTO MY HEART
YOU SEND MY SOUL SKY HIGH WHEN YOUR LOVIN' STARTS
George Michael screamed as a 30-inch Cinema HD blinked to life in darkness.
"Huh? What?" Steve said, sleepy and dumb.
JITTERBUG INTO MY BRAIN
GOES A BANG-BANG-BANG 'TIL MY FEET DO THE SAME
There was a fumbling noise, and something heavy fell and hit the floor with a dull thud.
"Shit!" Steve swore amid more fumbling sounds.
BUT SOMETHING'S BUGGING YOU
SOMETHING AIN'T RIGHT
MY BEST FRIEND TOLD ME WHAT YOU DID LAST NIGHT
Steve, bathed in the pale light of his 30-inch Cinema HD, scrunched his eyes and looked around.
"Oh shit! No!" Steve shouted as he rose from his make-shift pile of towels and rags in the floor and tripped toward the screen.
LEFT ME SLEEPIN' IN MY BED
I WAS DREAMING, BUT I SHOULD HAVE BEEN WITH YOU INSTEAD
As Steve floundered toward the computer desk, he almost bit the back of the chair as he stumbled one last time before aligning his buttocks with the chair's cushion and seating himself. Before his eyes, iTunes was open of its own accord, volume slider all the way up, playing Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Steve scrambled for the Mighty Mouse but it was too late.
WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO
DON'T LEAVE ME HANGING ON LIKE A YO-YO
"Oh dear lord!" Steve shouted. "I'm awake already!"
He grabbed the mouse and wheeled it around the desk wildly, but the cursor didn't move on the screen.
WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO
I DON'T WANT TO MISS IT WHEN YOU HIT THAT HIGH
"Shut up!" Steve yelled at the screen, still shoving the mouse around on the desk impotently.
With a jerk he dropped the mouse and ducked down, rummaging through a box on the floor near the desk. Papers and empty plastic wrappers flew here and there. Cords and CDs went flying in all directions. Finally, after flinging a pile of papers and booklets away, Steve reached his hands around the smooth plastic form of a regular Apple mouse, USB cord dangling from one end.
"Aha!" Steve shouted. His voice was drowned out, however, by George Michael's.
WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO
COS I'M NOT PLANNIN' ON GOING SOLO
Fumbling, Steve jammed the USB dongle into the end of his keyboard, stopped, and realized his Apple Wireless Keyboard didn't have USB ports. Grunting, Steve dropped to his hands and knees and reached behind the giant grey-blue tower in the corner with his left arm. After a second his mouse glowed laser-red in his right hand. He sat down at the desk again, mouse in hand.
WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO
TAKE ME DANCING TONIGHT
"I'll take you dancing alright," Steve said to iTunes. "Let's see how you like dancing muted."
I WANNA HIT THAT HIGH
Steve sped the mouse to the upper-left portion of the iTunes window and hit the mute symbol to the left of the volume slider. Or tried to. His eyes were still bleary, full of sleep, and in his sudden waking he'd forgotten to put his glasses on. He could barely see the screen in front of him. Squeezing his eyes, he moved the mouse toward the mute symbol a few pixels at a time.
YEAH, YEAH, YE—
And George Michael was silenced.
"Finally," Steve said.
"This damn thing. I thought I set it to wake me up at ten, not—" Steve paused here, squinting at the time on the menu bar. "Five thirty in the morning!? Jesus fucking christ!"
Steve opened Mail in less than one bounce of its dock icon and began writing a letter to his special dev team, those special engineers from Apple and IBM that had put his Power Mac G6 together in secret over most of the last year. He was hopping mad that BlueTooth was buggy and that AppleScript seemed to want to forget what time it was supposed to launch alarm scripts. He let them have it.
And you'd better make sure all of this stuff is taken care of by 10.4.3, Steve typed furiously, because if it's not you know what'll happen!
With a command key clack he sent the email off and his anger subsided. He was awake now, and it was barely a quarter to six. Usually he wasn't up and about until eight or nine, when he would sit for an hour in his sauna and then wander to his kitchen and have Ricardo, his chef, cook breakfast for him before he dressed and caught his private jet to work.
Steve realized he was still in his subterranean small office/home office bunker and not his house and sighed. He'd stayed up late last night stress-testing the G6. First he'd been deleting threads on the Apple support forums, then tested how fast Mac OS X could mail-bomb Ryan Meader's inbox. Finally he had hooked his handJobs unit to his genitals and had a CockBand jam session until two in the morning.
"No rest for the wicked, eh?" Steve said to no one in particular.
He walked to a wardrobe at the far wall of his bunker and grabbed a pair of jeans, a black mock turtleneck, and some comfortable running shoes from inside and put them on. He finished by pulling his belt through his loops and clasping it together. He checked himself in the mirror on the wardrobe door and fussed with his hair. After he was satisfied, he walked over to the G6.
"Time to get some sleep," Steve said to the G6 as he pulled down the Apple menu. "I'll wake you up when I get back."
After a second, the G6 went into sleep mode and its Apple icon pulsed ominously in the dark. Steve grabbed his glasses from the bookshelf near his makeshift bed, cleaned them on his shirt, and slipped them on. He went over to a mini-fridge next to the book shelf and took out a bottle of clear spring water, opened it, and took a sip. He exhaled slowly, looking around.
"Time to get to the jet," Steve said aloud.
He walked out of the chamber through a doorway that led to some step, then climbed aboard his gazebo. A push of the up button and he was rising up slowly. The ceiling of the underground cave system opened and blinding daylight poured in. Steve stood still while the gazebo rose a few more feet and locked into place. Then he hopped down the steps and walked toward the drive.
Fishing his keychain out of his pants, he clicked a button and a whining sound filled the air. He ducked down another path through his wooded yard in time to see his private mini-jet ascend on its platform up through his lawn. The pilot opened the cockpit and saluted Steve, who was even now climbing the ladder up to his seat behind the pilot's.
"Morning, Mr. Jobs," the pilot said. "Apple this morning, or are we doing Pixar?"
"No, just Apple," Steve shouted. "And since I got you up so early, you can eat breakfast in the executive suite with me once we get there!"
"No problem, Mr. Jobs!" the pilot yelled in return.
The cockpit closed and the plane's whining grew louder. Thunder exploded as the plane took off vertically, maneuvering in mid-air until its rear thrusters pulsed and it wooshed away into the sky toward 1 Infinite Loop. Seconds later, the plane was little more than a black pin-dot in the morning sun.
Deep below ground, the pale light of the Apple logo ebbed and pulsed, sleeping.