Sandy Miranda on Working at Apple

Source: Interview with Sandy Miranda, 14 April 2000.

Joining Apple

By that time, I started getting wind of Apple, and once you have this other stuff in your blood, the minute I started getting wind of Apple-- and mind you, it hadn't gone public yet-- I went over there and wrote a poem, and was hired because of this poem I wrote to apply for a job. Things were really freewheeling there then. This was in May of 1980.

So, I went and worked there in technical writing, and it was just (to sound like Steve Jobs) insanely fun, just insane. I mean, here's all these-- Everybody who was there is still really close friends; we still see each other all the time, we're totally bonded. The ARC group has stayed in touch, even 20 years later; that early Apple tech writing group is just unbelieveably tight to this day, all these people, you know. And yeah, so I was there, I was there for almost 4 years, and then I went back-- I worked on the early Apple IIs, that had cassettes that fed the programs in, and then it was the Apple II for just a little while, and then I worked on the Lisa.

The Lisa was like Steve Jobs'-- he, at one point, he decided there was an A team and B team, did you hear about that?-- and my whole group was gone then. And so my manager and everyone in my group, they decided that was the B team, and so we were all out. But a couple months later, Chris Espinosa called and said, "We want to bring you back, how would you like to write the Test Drive for the Macintosh?"

The interview with Chris Espinosa contains information about Espinosa's background, work at Apple, and the work of documenting the Macintosh.

Chris was good to me. Because he liked me, after the B-team got laid off, he brought me back in. He said, "That's ridiculous. Come on back." I came back and as a consultant got like three times the amount of money I'd been making as am employee. So Chris was a good friend to do that. He made sure that didn't happen to me.

Pang: He was just out of college at that point, wasn't he?

Miranda: I'm not sure, but he bought a Volkswagen. One of those Volkswagens that had the roll bar, convertible, and he taped a huge goose to the roll bar, and he used to drive it in and out of the parking lot with this goose on it. [Miranda laughs] He was just a kid then.

Pang: And how was he to work with? Here you are, you have ten years of experience by this point--

Miranda: But the guy is obviously so bright. One of the things that you learn at Apple was, I don't look at you to see how old you are, I listen to what you have to say. And that's something that happened at Apple, like my boss at KPFA, at the radio station, when she came in she was like 28 years old, and I'm a bit older than that, but she was so brilliant that I didn't care, I learned a lot from her. And age-- that's one thing you learn, there are some very young, very bright people.

Caroline Rose in her interview also talks about the unimportance of age at Apple.

Basically a lot of very precocious people ended up here. It was one of those things where-- I don't think I'll every be anywhere where there are such bright, creative people, ever. I don't think I'll ever see it again. Ever. The place was just vibrating with creative energy, like nothing I have every witnessed. The radio station is like that, but it's on a smaller scale. But I I can't work anywhere where it's not like that, after having that experienced first with Englebart and then at Apple and now at KPFA. I just can't be anywhere where people aren't really turned on and alive, and doing their life's work. Because you get totally into it, and once you have that experience, you're not going to go back. It's very liberating.

It's dangerous. What they were doing is dangerous. Give all these people the secret key, and watch out! [Miranda laughs]

So I came back as a contractor, and that was great, because that started me out as a consultant, which I've done ever since. And I probably, I never would have done it for a long time, I get this incredibly plum project, and I got to work with Carol Kaehler, who has since passed away, she was Ted Kaehler's wife, and we did the "Test Drive a Mac." This was when the Mac first came out, and I wrote the script for it, and you had like these, there was only like 3 pieces of software available for it, there was a spreadsheet, a word processor, and like a paint program--

Pang: MacWrite, MacPaint--

Chris Espinosa in his interview talks about Carol Kaehler and the MacPaint manual.

Miranda: Yeah, yeah, and I still have the stuff at home. So I wrote this script for the thing, and Carol did the book, and it was the first-- one of the first multimedia things that Apple ever did. You had to put a cassette into a player, and listen to it, and then watch this little thing go on on your screen, and that was my project. And then I kept going back as a contract consultant over the years, all the way up through e-World-- yes [Miranda laughs]. So I've stayed in touch with Apple, because there's a very big loyalty of all of us early employees. I was number 998, so I was under the first thousand.

I just went to the NAB show [National Association of Broadcasters] this Tuesday, and I was so happy because the Apple people had this huge presence there, very beautiful, and they were announcing Final Cut Pro, their new software, they're back in the software business. There were hundreds of people in the booth-- a huge booth-- and there was huge excitement, just like the old days.

And I was so pleased to see that. Because nobody was willing to let Apple go down, the world was not willing to let Apple go down. Did you see the difference there, when Microsoft gets into trouble, people say, everyone's like, "Get those bastards!" You know what I mean? And when Apple's in horrible trouble, the world will not let them go down, they refuse. So there's a difference in attitude there that people appreciate.


Document created on 20 June 2000;