Anyone who sees Apple expanding and employing more and more people today may not imagine that one day the company went through a roller coaster of events, such as the production of the first Macintosh in a cubicle at Hewlett-Packard and the attempt to industrially manufacture the Mac in the United States in the 1980s.
No, you did not read it wrong. Apple computers were assembled in Silicon Valley (California) at a factory in the U.S. for eight years, during which time a former company executive, Jean-Louis Gassée, does not have good memories – as disclosed by The New York Times.
Gassée was hired by the then CEO of Apple, John Sculley, and became president of the company’s product division. In the early days, he decided to understand how the company actually built its products, working on one of the factory’s production lines opened by the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, with the goal of making the Mac.
“I was ashamed to attach a monitor to the computer frame with a screwdriver,” recalled Gassée in a recent interview. At the end of his shift, Gassée took a broom and swept the parts that had fallen off the production line. “It was very shameful,” he said of the visibly sloppy process.
During Jobs’s command, the executive tried to implement his version of two processes about which he had “deep convictions”: the mass production of Fordism and the Japanese Toyotist method (“Just in time”). However, his efforts to replicate these processes in California were one of his failures.
The Fremont plant closed in 1992, five years before Jobs returned to Apple, partly because he never received the demand the executive had envisioned. Currently, only a few (few) companies specializing in prototyping systems maintain a workforce focused on manufacturing products in Silicon Valley.
To learn more about this period in the history of the Apple and Jobs’ wishes for Mac production in the USA, check out the publication of New York Times in full.