Gil Amelio

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Gil Amelio, born Gilbert Amelio, was the fifth CEO of Apple, succeeding Michael Spindler in February 1996, and resigning in July 1997 (being replaced by Steve Jobs).

Amelio became notorious after Apple's financial and industrial power reached their nadir under his watch. However, he is also responsible for the accquisition of NeXT, Inc, whose NeXTSTEP operating system would become the foundation for Mac OS X.

High Hopes

Amelio joined the Apple Computer Board of Directors in 1994, succeeding Michael Spindler. He had previously steered National Semiconductor from an ailing company back to a profitable course. It was hoped that he would do the same for Apple, which had not been doing well.

Apple was well aware at the time that its aging System 7 software was not going to remain a viable competitor in the marketplace much longer. QuickDraw, one of Apple's operating systems' original strengths, made multi-tasking very difficult to implement. The file system was not well-suited to hard disks. System 7 was also extremely prone to crashing due to a lack of memory protection. To solve these and many other problems, Apple reasoned that an entirely new operating system was needed. This OS would be known unofficially as Copland.

The Search for the Next OS

Gil Amelio's tactic, however, was to discontinue Copland entirely and fire one-third of the Apple work force. He commenced the development of Mac OS 8 to buy time while he attempted to find a suitable third-party operating system that could be purchased. The one deemed most likely to fit the bill was BeOS, designed by Be, Incorporated.

Be, Inc was started by Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple official who knew the company well and had, by most accounts, created an interesting and powerful OS. Amelio's offers reached $125 million for the BeOS (which at that time was worth in the eyes of most onlookers no more than $40 million). Gassée, however, wanted revenge for what he perceived as his wrongful termination at Apple; he demanded $400 million.

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs' second computer company, NeXT, was floundering. A lawsuit with Apple in the mid eighties had resulted in a non-competition settlement dictating that NeXT be restricted to the workstation market. This, along with Jobs' famous eccentricity, had resulted in NeXT marketing a $10 000 UNIX workstation (the NeXT Cube) to a largely disinterested world. After fighting an uphill battle for the next several years, NeXT discontinued its hardware division and shifted entirely to producing its operating system, NeXTSTEP.

Amelio began discussions with Jobs in November of 1996; in February of 1997, Apple accquired NeXT for $375 million plus 1.5 million shares of Apple stock. In July, after a 12-year low in stock price and losses of $708 million, Amelio resigned, to be replaced by Steve Jobs as interim CEO. This turn of events is commonly referred to as "when NeXT bought Apple."


Wikipedia Entry on Gil Amelio

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