Frog Design Founder on Going Beyond Beauty

Eye of the Needle by David Needle (bio)

Insights from Silicon Valley and beyond

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Hartmut Esslinger, who helped design the original Macintosh 25 years ago, says many tech companies still don’t get one of the keys to Apple’s success.

“Design doesn’t stand alone, it’s a coordinated profession. People think it’s about beauty, but it’s really about connected technology, science, people and business. A lot of stuff doesn’t sell because it’s designed for the engineer,” he said this morning at a Churchill Club event here.

Esslinger had worked earlier at Sony which helped him get in the door at Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and gain the confidence of ultra-picky CEO Steve Jobs, beating out an ad agency in the process for his then small company, the legendary Frog Design.

“We talked about design and I asked Steve what he wanted to do with the Mac. He said he wanted a million people to use it, not 10,000,” Esslinger recalled.

A million personal computers was considered big time mass market back then.

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