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The popular narrative that Steve Jobs was removed from Apple by board fiat after losing a war for control with then-CEO John Sculley is not entirely accurate, according to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
"Steve Jobs wasn't pushed out of the company. He left," Wozniak wrote on Facebook. "After the Macintosh failure it's fair to assume that Jobs left out of his feeling of greatness, and embarrassment about not having achieved it."
Wozniak's comments came in the midst of a larger discussion centering on the new Aaron Sorkin-penned, Danny Boyle-led movie about Steve Jobs' life that is set to hit theatres next month. Wozniak has praised that film — for which he consulted — as the best screen adaptation of Jobs and Apple since 1999's Pirates of Silicon Valley.
The real story surrounding Jobs's first departure from Apple may never be known, as several company insiders have given varying accounts over the years. In a 2005 commencement address to students at Stanford, Jobs himself offered a different point of view:
"We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired," Jobs said. "How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out."
Sculley has disputed Jobs's version of events and offered his own take, which more closely aligns with Wozniak's perspective.
"It was after making the pitches [regarding Macintosh Office] that the Apple board asked Steve to step down from the Macintosh division for being too disruptive in the organization," Sculley said in an interview earlier this year.
"Steve was never fired. He took a sabbatical and was still chairman of the board. He was down, no one pushed him, but he was off the Mac, which was his deal - he never forgave me for that."
Wozniak added that on balance, the latest attempt to chronicle Jobs's life does well to straddle the line between entertainment and accuracy:
"This movie does a good job with accuracy of issues even if all the scenes with myself or Andy Hertzfeld talking to Jobs never happened at all. The issues were real and did happen, even if at different points in time. [...] The acting is very good compared to other movies about Steve Jobs. The movie doesn't try to be another one of the story we all know. It tries to make you feel what it was like emotionally, as Jobs and those around him."
Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender in the titular role, will debut at the New York Film Festival Oct. 3 in advance of a wider release Oct. 9 in North America.