Artifact Details


Scull, John oral history

Catalog Number





John Scull grew up in a missionary family in Indonesia and later Oklahoma, studied math and economics at Oklahoma University, and spent a year teaching mathematics at a Massachusetts preparatory school. As a student at Harvard Business School studying marketing, Scull discovered VisiCalc and the potential for microcomputers to transform business processes. After business school, at his first job at a New York bank, Scull attempted to convert it from manual calculation aided by calculators to the use of spreadsheets, but faced institutional resistance.

He decided to leave the bank and join a local computer store as a salesperson, selling PC solutions to financial firms. One important client turned out to be the venture capital firm Venrock, whose managing director Peter Crisp was on the board of Apple. With Apple losing sales to IBM in the business market, Crisp recommended Scull to Apple’s sales and marketing team on the strength of Scull’s business sales experience and his enthusiasm for the Lisa.

After meeting with John Sculley, Bill Campbell, and Steve Jobs, Scull was offered a position of retail marketing manager for the rollout of the Macintosh. In this role he coordinated strategy to help dealers sell Macintoshes at retail. After the initial rollout Scull transitioned to marketing communications, including advertising, PR, events and promotions, in particular the “Test Drive a Macintosh” initiative. Scull also worked on a special education task force to see what could be done to sell the Mac to the K-12 education market but ran into internal politics by infringing on the Apple II’s turf. Scull proposed this controversial initiative as Apple was releasing the LaserWriter alongside an unsuccessful “Macintosh Office” marketing campaign, amid plummeting Macintosh sales, and the boardroom coup that ousted Steve Jobs. In the midst of this crisis, the Macintosh division was reorganized, scuttling the education initiative. Now a part of Business marketing, Scull, with minimal resources, devised a new marketing initiative for the Mac and the LaserWriter: desktop publishing.




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

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA


41 p.






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


Computer History Museum

Lot Number