Caroline Rose on Joining the Macintosh Project

Source: Interview with Caroline Rose, 14 March 2000.

Pang: How did you get onto the Macintosh project?

Rose: Dirk [van Nouhuys] called, and said "Chris Espinosa here, manager of documentation, is looking for someone to write the documentation for a new computer," and by that time I felt that Tymshare was -- well, even I knew that timesharing was on its way out. Chris and I really hit it off. Chris was an amazing person, a real dynamo. I think he started working for Apple when he was fourteen, and was something like their second employee -- the two Steves were zero and one -- and Chris was two. He was a highly energetic, creative person, not by any means a nerd; broke all the rules, didn't even know there were rules to break. Most people in the Mac group struck me as being like that, but him especially.

I'll never forget that interview, because I didn't get the significance of some of the things he showed me about the Macintosh. He showed me balls bouncing on a screen; he was so excited about it. And he didn't ask me to sign a nondisclosure agreement. So I went back to Tymshare, and the first programmer I told about the balls bouncing on the screen told me, "Maybe you shouldn't broadcast this." I had been at Tymshare all my life, and a graphical user interface didn't connect with me. So I told people back at Tymshare that it was a really great interview and I think I got the job, but they were so excited about these balls bouncing on the screen! I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. I later saw a demonstration of the rudimentary user interface, and I finally got it.

It was a really dynamic, exciting group of people. One of the things I was asked in the interview was whether I would mind working for someone so much younger than me -- Chris was something like 17 at the time -- and I said, "I don't mind if you don't -- why should I mind!"

Sandy Miranda in her interview also talks about the irrelevance of age at Apple.

I knew that the Macintosh group would be a small part of Apple, but it would be supported by the rest of Apple. It would be really great, and we could do what we wanted, and what we did was going to change the world. There was excitement from day one. And Chris was thrilled that I had a programming background, and he was smart enough to know that that was exactly what he needed. He saw my writing and he liked it.

Chris Espinosa talks in his interview about Caroline Rose's contribution to the documentation group.

Pang: Had you had much experience with personal computers before that?

Rose: No, I had no experience with personal computers at all. In fact, in those days, after I was hired, I was helping to hire user manual writers, and we looked for people who had no experience with personal computers. Of course it wasn't hard to find people in those days who didn't.

Pang: Why did you want people to write manuals who didn't own personal computers?

Rose: Because we thought the Macintosh was going to be like a toaster, as Steve kept saying. And you know, in those days, the goal was that your mother and grandmother could take it and use it, and he didn't want the user documentation to have a technical feel to it, or betray any knowledge of computers. So he preferred to hire people who didn't have experience with computers.

Pang: But having experience with computers didn't work against you, in your work.

Rose: No, it worked in my favor, because I was doing technical documentation. There's no way someone without experience with computers could have done that. None. Or at least, they wouldn't have done a good job, and they wouldn't have helped shape the interface, which is what I did.