When I say Pixar, characters flood your mind. Andy’s toys, Sully and Mike, a super family in witness protection, and a house filled with balloons parade through your mental horizon. The funny thing is, it all started with a divorce, a failed computer system, and a fired artist.
George Lucas, Yoda’s Dad, was in trouble. His divorce was truly costing him his fortune. He made the decision to sell his computer graphics division to a friend. A computer guy who had just lost the company he founded, named Steve Jobs.
The company sold the Pixar Image Computer, mostly to the government and medical facilities. They did have one other buyer, the Walt Disney Company. They planned to use the system to modernize two dimensional animation. It would replace the need of having a separate hand painted image for every movement Mickey made.
It didn’t sell well unfortunately, even though they had hired a former Disney artist to showcase the system’s potential. John Lasseter, had worked on Disney classics such as 101 Dalmatians, and Lady and The Tramp. He had lost his job due to pushing computer animation, and making a few corporate enemies in his excitement for his art.
Post Disney, John Lasseter was given a different title to work at Pixar. The man that hired him wasn’t supposed to hire an animator. He began to make shorts advertising the system. One of the characters from it is now the mascot you see at the beginning of every film. They did something right in the midst of all of this, Disney finally asked them to make a movie.
The year they did, they had to sell off the hardware division and lost thirty people. John had spent his time learning technology from two of Pixar’s three founders, company president Ed Catmull and Executive Vice President Alvy Smith. He had also taught them about telling stories. The result was a movie called Toy Story, and thanks to Pixar’s Chairman Steve Jobs, they didn’t just work for Disney, they were now partners.
Success wasn’t all that followed, CEO Michael Eisner and a battle for power at Disney almost ended everything. Pixar was severing ties with Disney, largely due to what they felt was mistreatment at the top. Bob Iger, the new president, reached out to Walt’s nephew Roy and his friend Steve Jobs.
A new agreement happened, Pixar was bought by Disney, and John Lasseter now ran the very animation studio that fired him. Since then you may have heard of movies like Tangled and Frozen, and Inside Out. What started out in chaos turned into a beautiful story. Insert a cameo by The company’s good luck charm and frequent cameo star, John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven of Cheers), and you’ve got the makings of … well, you know.