Steve Jobs wanted to dress like Willy Wonka and invite the millionth iMac buyer to Apple

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I’ve got the golden iMac…

We all know Steve Jobs dreamed big. Some of his ideas he didn’t live long enough to see to fruition, like Apple’s rumored TV. Some took decades to materialize, like the iPad, awhile some had to just plain get ditched.

MacRumors last night reported a tidbit from Ken Segall’s new book “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success” that, if it happened, would have been the pop-culture event of the decade: To mark its return to glory, Jobs wanted to conduct a real-life willy Wonka campaign and put a golden ticket inside the box of the millionth iMac, with its buyer winning a trip to Cupertino, where Jobs would greet them in full Wonka regalia.

Steve’s idea was to do a Willy Wonka with it. Just as Wonka did in the movie, Steve wanted to put a golden certificate representing the millionth iMac inside the box of one iMac, and publicize that fact. Whoever opened the lucky iMac box would be refunded the purchase price and be flown to Cupertino, where he or she (and, presumably, the accompanying family) would be taken on a tour of the Apple campus.

Steve had already instructed his internal creative group to design a prototype golden certificate, which he shared with us. But the killer was that Steve wanted to go all out on this. He wanted to meet the lucky winner in full Willy Wonka garb. Yes, complete with top hat and tails.

The metaphor actually makes perfect sense for Jobs: He always talked about Apple in epic, cinematic terms, with its former glory being a golden age for computing and its fall in the late 80s and 90s to Windows being a dark epoch for mankind. The passion and imagination Wonka’s chocolate factory stirred was similar to how he wanted people to relate to Apple.

And of course, Jobs had his very own Slugworth: Bill Gates, the competitor who rose to prominence by stealing (at least in Jobs’ version of the story).

But as Hypervocal points out, in order for the metaphor to be complete the winner of the iMac golden ticket would have had to have been flown not to Cupertino, but to Foxconn’s factories in China, with its overworked laborers standing in for Oompa Loompas.

Seeing Jobs in anything other than his signature turtle neck would have been a novelty—seeing him dressed as Willy Wonka would have been downright priceless. Too bad it never materialized.