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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.

By the time I was in third grade, I had a good buddy of mine, Rick Farentino, and the only way we had fun was to create mischief. I remember we traded everybody. There was a big bike rack where everybody put their bikes, maybe a hundred bikes in this rack, and we traded everybody our lock combinations for theirs on an individual basis and then went out one day and put everybody's lock on everybody else's bike and it took them until about ten o'clock that night to get all the bikes sorted out. We set off explosives in teacher's desks. We got kicked out of school a lot.

In fourth grade I encountered one of the other saints of my life. They were going to put Rick Farentino and I into the same fourth grade class, and the principal said at the last minute "No, bad idea. Separate them." So this teacher, Mrs. Hill, said "I'll take one of them." She taught the advanced fourth grade class and thank God I was the random one that got put in the class. She watched me for about two weeks and then approached me. She said, Steven, I'll tell you what. I'll make you a deal. I have this math workbook and if you take it home and finish on your own without any help and you bring it back to me, if you get it 80% right, I will give you five dollars and one of these really big suckers she bought and she held it out in front of me. One of these giant things. And I looked at her like "Are you crazy lady"? Nobody's ever done this before and of course I did it. She basically bribed me back into learning with candy and money and what was really remarkable was before very long I had such a respect for her that it sort of re-ignited my desire to learn.

She got me kits for making cameras. I ground my own lens and made a camera. It was really quite wonderful. I think I probably learned more academically in that one year than I learned in my life. It created problems, though, because when I got out of fourth grade they tested me and they decided to put me in high school and my parents said "No.". Thank God. They said "He can skip one grade but that's all."

But not to high school. And I found skipping one grade to be very troublesome in many ways. That was plenty enough. It did create some problems.

This seems like such a good place to talk about your experience in the fourth grade. Do you think that had a major impact on your own interest in education? I mean if there is anyone in the computer industry that is associated with computers and education it has got to be you and Apple. I'm sure it did. I'm a very big believer in equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcome. I don't believe in equal outcome because unfortunately life's not like that. It would be a pretty boring place if it was.

 

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