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Within weeks of his sale, of course, the board ousted CEO Gilbert Amelio after 17 months on the job. Jobs says the board came to him and offered him both the CEO's and chairman's job. "I thought about it," he admits, "but decided it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life." Taking the chairman's job, in particular, he said would "scare away" any real candidate for the CEO's job, given Jobs' penchant for down-your-throat management. Yet it may not be much better for the new CEO to have him sitting on the board, especially the reconstituted activist board of Jobs allies that he hopes will keep Apple on the right path. "I've agreed to be a board member, and that's all I can give. I have another life now."

The Steve Jobs who is currently running two sophisticated companies lives in a turn-of-the-century English-style country house in Palo Alto with his wife Laurene, 33, their two young children and his 19-year-old daughter Lisa, home from college for the summer. The house is run with a distinct 1960s flavor. Laurene has planted a garden of wildflowers, herbs and vegetables all around. The rooms are sparsely decorated, the only extravagances being Ansel Adams photographs. We dine as the Jobses always do: both are strict vegans, eating no meat products. Dinner is pasta with raw tomatoes, fresh raw corn from the garden, steamed cauliflower and a salad of raw shredded carrots. While the adults eat, their six-year-old son picks lemon verbena and other herbs in the garden for the after-dinner tea. His reward is a tickle and being tucked into bed by Dad.

Over dinner, Jobs tells how Laurene overloaded his circuits eight years ago while he was speaking at nearby Stanford University. "I couldn't take my eyes off her," he says of the brainy blond M.B.A. He "bagged" a business dinner to be with her, he says, and they've been together ever since. Conversation is a mix of politics, Laurene's work setting up a mentor group for a nearby high school and tales of a presidential visit last summer when Bill Clinton rang up and invited himself to dinner so he could meet with Silicon Valley executives. "We had to rent a Dumpster to clean out the house before they came!" says Jobs, whose prenuptial housing style was "spare," if that's the term for lacking furniture. The couple giggle over their search for cheap wine glasses to serve the President. The menu was, naturally, vegan.

Tuesday Jobs heads for Boston, traveling commercial, albeit first class. Once there, he surveys the Castle, a puny downtown venue chosen months ago for what was expected to be a snoozer of a speech to Mac enthusiasts by Amelio. Jobs has assembled an army of showmen to orchestrate his--and Apple's--return to competition. There is theatrical lighting and a concert-quality sound system. He stares at the mega columns with the Apple logo cut into them, grimaces at their "Hitlerish" appearance, but decides it's too late to do anything about them. Then he sets to work on his slide-show presentation--run from an IBM ThinkPad. The software, thank heaven, is from his old company, NeXT.

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