Artifact Details


Scull, John oral history, part 2

Catalog Number







Brock, David C., Interviewer
Hsu, Hansen, Interviewer
Scull, John, Interviewee


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA


30 p.




John Scull resumes his story with the state of the situation of the Macintosh and the LaserWriter in 1985: that of crisis. The Mac Office campaign had not been successful due to a dearth of software that could take advantage of both the Mac and LaserWriter. What was needed was a killer app that showed what you could do with the Mac’s graphics capabilities. Believing that applications were the key to success in the PC business, Scull researched all of the software companies that were using the LaserWriter, which lead him to the small niche of page layout programs being developed, including players such as Adobe and Aldus. Scull put together a demonstration of such software with a LaserWriter to attendees of the Stanford publishing class, to phenomenal response, proving to him that this “niche” could become a massive new market. In six weeks, with the help of only a summer intern, Scull launched the Apple Desktop Publishing campaign, centered around a dealer sales training program to promote the solution of Aldus PageMaker, Macintosh, and LaserWriter, alongside Apple PR and advertising.

Having firmly established desktop publishing as a billion-dollar business by 1988, Scull moved on to a new challenge: multimedia. Scull put together a business plan for multimedia, for a disc-based interactive video player whose titles would be authored on a Mac, sold into education and later corporate training. This was not approved by the executive staff. Seeing political turmoil again at Apple, Scull decided to depart. Scull then became CEO of MacroMind, a progenitor of Macromedia, whose business was firmly in the multimedia space. At MacroMind, Scull shepherded the development of Director from an earlier program, VideoWorks. Launched at Macworld in 1989, Director became a successful authoring tool for advertising, promotional, educational and consumer products, garnering over $10 million in sales.

Still interested in interactive media, Scull’s new startup, PF Magic, focused on games, initially for Phillips’ CD-I platform, later online, using consoles connecting via modems, in collaboration with AT&T Consumer Products. This project was scuttled after the head of AT&T Consumer Products left. Scull then pivoted the company into making virtual pets for the web, which was successful enough to get the company acquired by The Learning Company.

After a year of sabbatical, with a child on the way, Scull decided to forgo looking for CEO positions and began advising the clients of an Australian venture capital firm, leading him to eventually join the firm as the Silicon Valley partner, helping Australian technology companies go global. This was an ideal way to get him into international business, a goal of his since graduating business school. After 5 years, Scull and another partner spun out to form Southern Cross Venture Partners, which, through Softbank China, focuses on Asia-Pacific-US partnerships, investing in IT firms but also renewable energy.




Desktop publishing; Macintosh; LaserWriter; Adobe; Aldus; PageMaker; Macromedia, Inc.; MacroMind; Virtual Pets; Venture Capital


Computer History Museum

Lot Number