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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.

What are the features that are on the NeXT machine that are still missing from machines today? Well first of all it, was a totally 'plug-and-play' machine. Except for Macintosh, that's hard to find. It's an extremely powerful machine, way beyond the Macintosh. So it sort of nicely combined the power of the workstations with the 'plug and playness' of the Mac. Second of all, the machine had a fit and finish that you don't find today.

It's beautiful. I don't just mean in packaging; I mean in terms of operation. Simple things to complex things. Simple things like soft power on and off. A trivial little thing but as you know one, of the biggest reasons people lose information on computers is they turn them off at the wrong time. And when you get into a multi-tasking network system, that could have much more severe consequences. So we were the first people to do that and some of the only people who do that, where you push a button and you request the computer to turn off. It figures out what it needs to do to shut down gracefully and then turns itself off.

Of course the NeXT Computer was also the first computer with built-in high quality sound, CD quality sound. Most people do that now. It took them a long time but most people do that. It was just ahead of its time.

NeXT Software: What makes it different? What trends does it respond to? That's the real gem. I'll tell you an interesting story. When I was at Apple, a few of my acquaintances said "You really need to go over to Xerox PARC (which was Palo Alto Research Center) and see what they've got going over there."

They didn't usually let too many people in but I was able to get in there and see what they were doing. I saw their early computer called the Alto, which was a phenomenal computer, and they actually showed me three things there that they had working in 1976. I saw them in 1979. Things that took really until a few years ago for us to fully re-create, for the industry to fully re-create in this case with NeXTStep. However, I didn't see all three of those things. I only saw the first one, which was so incredible to me that it saturated me. It blinded me to see the other two. It took me years to re-create them and rediscover them and incorporate them back into the model, but they were very far ahead in their thinking. They didn't have it totally right, but they had the germ of the idea of all three things. And the three things were graphical user interfaces, object oriented computing and networking.

 

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