John Sculley, Apple his former CEO commited that not adopting Intel his CPUs in the late 80s was the biggest mistake that Apple made.
Speaking this week to a packed crowd at the Silicon Valley 4.0 conference, held at the Computer History Museum, in California, Sculley explained Intel's attempt to woo the company. In the late 80s, when Apple was using Motorola's 68000 series chips and considering its next step, Intel co-founder Andy Grove tried to convince the company to migrate to Intel chips.
An experienced team from Apple's Cupertino HQ studied the idea but turned it down. Apple concluded that Intel's CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer) architecture ultimately would not be able to compete against RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processors, which had a more advanced instruction set, he said. Apple later adopted RISC.
"That's probably one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made, not going to the Intel platform," said Sculley, who is now a partner in New York investment firm Sculley Brothers.
History shows that Intel was able to keep its CISC architecture and bring the RISC instruction set into it. What Apple had underestimated was the power of Intel's overall system as a manufacturer, bringing billions of dollars to bear on the problem and solving it through evolution, Sculley said.
If they had gone to the Intel platform he says, Apple would have had more options.
For one thing, not embracing the endless commoditization of Intel-architecture chips meant Apple couldn't compete on price against "the Dells of the world," he said. The die was cast. Apple took another path and ended up a different kind of company, Sculley said.