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Steve Jobs interview: One-on-one in 1995

Computerworld (US) staff | Oct. 7, 2011
In April of 1995, Steve Jobs, then head of NeXT Computer, was interviewed as part of the Computerworld Honors Program Oral History project. The wide-ranging interview was conducted by Daniel Morrow, executive director of the awards program.

It's passion in the truest sense of the word. The computer industry is at a very critical juncture where those people are clearly leaving the field.

What are they doing? Hard to say. They're not being attracted by something else. They're being driven out of the computer business. They're being driven out because the computer business is becoming a monopoly with Microsoft. Without getting into whether Microsoft gained its position legally or not -- who cares? The end product of the position is that the ability to innovate in the industry is being sucked dry. I think the smartest people have already seen the writing on the wall. I think some of the smartest young people are questioning whether they'll really get in it.

Hopefully things will change. It's kind of a dark period right now or about to enter.

Apple's growth

Apple had a reputation as a company that absolutely broke the mold and set its own course. Looking back from where you are today with NeXT, do you think that, as Apple grew larger, it could have sustained that original approach? Or was it destined to become a big standard American company? That's a funny question. Apple did grow big and sustain that approach.

When I left Apple it was a two billion dollar company. We were Fortune 300 and something. We were 350. When the Mac was introduced we were a billion-dollar corporation; so Apple grew from nothing to two billion dollars while I was there. That's a pretty high growth rate. It grew five times since I left basically on the back of the Macintosh.

I think what's happened since I left in terms of growth rate has been trivial compared with what it was like when I was there. What ruined Apple wasn't growth. What ruined Apple was values. John Sculley ruined Apple and he ruined it by bringing a set of values to the top of Apple which were corrupt and corrupted some of the top people who were there, drove out some of the ones who were not corruptible, and brought in more corrupt ones and paid themselves collectively tens of millions of dollars and cared more about their own glory and wealth than they did about what built Apple in the first place -- which was making great computers for people to use.

They didn't care about that anymore. They didn't have a clue about how to do it and they didn't take any time to find out because that's not what they cared about. They cared about making a lot of money. So they had this wonderful thing that a lot of brilliant people made called the Macintosh and they got very greedy. And instead of following the original trajectory of the original vision -- which was to make this thing an appliance, to get this out there to as many people as possible -- they went for profits and they made outlandish profits for about four years. Apple was one of the most profitable companies in America for about four years.

 

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