When Compaq CEO Ben Rosen emailed Steve Jobs to tell him he was a Mac enthusiast

Mon, Oct 31, 2011


Former Compaq CEO Ben Rosen recently penned an article detailing some of his memories of Steve Jobs. Rosen’s ties to Apple and Jobs date back to the late 70’s, with Rosen subsequently playing a major role in introducing Jobs to Robert H.B. Baldwin of Morgan Stanley when Apple was planning to go public in 1980.

Flash forward a few decades to 1999. Rosen had recently ascended to the CEO position of Compaq and just 4 months into his tenure he received a call from his old buddy Steve Jobs.

Believe it or not, but Jobs wanted to inquire about the possibility of Compaq offering the Mac OS on its hardware. “At the time,” Rosen writes, “Compaq was the world’s largest manufacturer of PCs. Our adopting the Apple OS would be seen as a feather in Apple’s cap (and a pretty visible slap at Microsoft).”

Clearly, the idea/proposal never really got off the ground as it made no sense for Compaq to rouse the ire of its number one customer. Further, Rosen says that Jobs subsequently developed second thoughts about licensing out the Mac OS – the one thing that really differentiated Apple from the rest of the pack.

Now flash forward once again, this time to 2007.

Apple’s resurection was complete, saved by the iMac and fueled by the iPod. And so, in June of ’07, Rosen recounts sending the following email to Jobs.

From: Benjamin M. Rosen
Subject: 30 years later — from Ben Rosen
Date: June 4, 2007 9:06:02 AM EDT
To: Steve Jobs

Hi Steve,

When you created and then showed me the Apple II in late 1977, little did I know how much it would change my life — to a much more exciting one.

Well, after a 20-plus year interlude with that other OS (necessitated by my Compaq involvement), I thought you’d be pleased to know that for the last few years I’ve returned to my roots. I’m once again an avid Apple user and evangelist.

Imagine, Ben Rosen, former Compaq Chairman, now a Mac enthusiast!

Warm regards,


A few weeks later, and much to the pleasant surprise of Rosen, he opened up his inbox and found a response email from Jobs.

From: Steve Jobs
Subject: Re: 30 years later — from Ben Rosen
Date: August 1, 2007 7:58:57 PM EDT
To: Benjamin M. Rosen


Sorry for my delayed reply – I was on a much needed family vacation for the past three weeks.

Wow – this news makes my day! I’m glad to hear it. I hope you like what we’ve done with the Mac. I’m biased, of course, but I think its light years ahead of Windows.

How are you doing? We haven’t seen each other in years, but I remember the times we spent together very fondly.

All the best,

Rosen concludes, “It gives me a great deal of pleasure to think that on August 1, 2007, I made Steve Jobs’ day.”

Rosen’s entire post, which includes a number of anecdotes and stories about Steve Jobs is very much worth a read.



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