If you’re at all interested in Steve Jobs and especially his ‘wilderness years’ away from Apple or his thoughts on Apple, Microsoft and future technology, then you’re going to want to check out Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview. It’s a movie available in iTunes that’s a little over an hour’s worth of a superb interview of Jobs by Robert X. Cringely, done back in 1995.
The interview was done back in the days when Jobs was CEO of NeXT Computer and Pixar, a year before he sold NeXT to Apple and returned to the company he co-founded. This iTunes movie is the full interview, which had been thought to be lost for many years – so most of the footage has never been seen before.
I rented it earlier this week and found it fascinating throughout. Here are just a few of the highlights:
– At the outset of the interview Jobs recounts how at 12 years old he called Bill Hewlett (one of the founders of Hewlett Packard) asking for spare parts for a project and ended up with a job at Hewlett Packard. He would go to meetups at the HP research labs in Palo Alto once a week – there he saw the first desktop computer ever made – The Hewlett Packard 9100 – and “fell in love with it”
– He talks about how he and Steve Wozniak got into creating blue boxes to make free calls to anywhere in the world. “I don’t think there ever would’ve been an Apple Computer had there not been blue boxing”
– Jobs talks passionately about his early programming efforts and how important he feels programming is. “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer language – because it teaches you how to think.”
– Jobs discusses his first visit to Xerox Parc – he says they showed him three things and he didn’t even see two of them. The two he didn’t even see were object-oriented programming and networked computers using email etc – he says he didn’t even see them because he was so blinded by the third thing, the graphical user interface. “I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life. Within 10 minutes it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this someday. It was obvious.”
– Cringely asks him what does it mean when you tell someone their work is shit? And gets this reply:
It usually it means their work is shit. Sometimes it means I think their work is shit and I’m wrong – but usually it means their work is not anywhere near good enough.
– When asked about leaving Apple it’s clear that it’s a painful subject for Jobs. He says he’s not even sure he wants to talk about it, then says:
What can I say – I hired the wrong guy. And he destroyed everything I’d spent ten years working for. Starting with me, but that wasn’t the saddest thing …
– They then talk about the then-current state of Apple, which Jobs describes as dire. He says the company is on a glide slope and is dying and he doesn’t even think it’s reversible.
– Jobs shares his thoughts on Microsoft too. While he credits them for seizing opportunities he is generally scathing about them:.
The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste, and what that means is I don’t mean that in a small way I mean that in a big way in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas and they don’t bring much culture into their products …Their products have no spirit to them, no spirit of enlightenment.They are very pedestrian.
– In talking about Microsoft’s success he even says they are like McDonalds – and this saddens him.
– Most interesting of all is when Jobs talks about where he sees technology heading and he focuses on the internet. He talks eloquently about how it’s going to become a defining technology.
The whole interview is excellent and Jobs seems candid and wide open on every subject, which is really fun to watch.
You can rent Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview in iTunes for $3.99. It’s well worth it; in fact I’ll probably buy it if they make it available for sale at some point.