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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.

If somebody wanted to write a book about me, most of my friends would never talk to them but they could go find the handful of a few dozen people that I fired in my life who hate my guts. It was certainly the case in the one book I skimmed. I mean it was just "let's throw the darts at Steve." Such is life. That's the world I've chosen to live in. If I didn't like that part of it enough, I'd escape and I haven't, so I'm willing to put up with that. But I certainly didn't find it very accurate.

Apple

I've got a couple of questions I'd like to ask you about specifically about your experience at Apple. Looking back at the years you were there, what were the accomplishments you are most proud of? Are there a couple of Apple stories you really like to tell? Apple was this incredible journey. I mean we did some amazing things there. The thing that bound us together at Apple was the ability to make things that were going to change the world. That was very important.

We were all pretty young. The average age in the company was mid to late twenties. Hardly anybody had families at the beginning and we all worked like maniacs, and the greatest joy was that we felt we were fashioning collective works of art much like twentieth century physics. Something important that would last, that people contributed to and then could give to more people; the amplification factor was very large.

In doing the Macintosh, for example, there was a core group of less than a hundred people, and yet Apple shipped over ten million of them. Of course everybody's copied it and it's hundreds of millions now. That's pretty large amplification, a million to one. It's not often in your life that you get that opportunity to amplify your values a hundred to one, let alone a million to one. That's really what we were doing.

If you look at what we tried to do, it was to say "Computation and how it relates to people is really in its infancy here. We are in the right place at the right time to change the course of that vector a little bit." What's interesting is that if you change the course of a vector near its origin, by time it gets a few miles out its course is radically different. We were very cognizant of this fact. From almost the beginning at Apple we were, for some incredibly lucky reason, fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time. The contributions we tried to make embodied values not only of technical excellence and innovation -- which I think we did our share of -- but innovation of a more humanistic kind.

 

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