Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview
This is not the Steve Jobs you remember from the keynote speeches at product unveilings. This is Steve Jobs in exile like Napoleon or Machiavelli, patiently planning his triumphant return. Here he is not the master of the universe, doling out prophecy and futuristic consumer electronic devices.
Here he is a tiger in a cage, plotting to shred his keepers. All that energy he’d expend bringing the iMac, iPod, MacBook, iPhone, and iPad to life is present, simmering beneath the surface. You can sense it though every time the interviewer asks him a question. It’s like asking Einstein to explain arithmetic, sometimes. He seems to be exhibiting the patience of a Buddha. It must have been painful to have all of his knowledge and ability and to see the ultimate vehicle — Apple — languishing under such unimaginative mismanagement.
And he says as much. He worries aloud that Apple may be beyond repair, though with the benefit of hindsight it now seems he was positioning himself for a comeback all along. He must have been, right? There’s a part of the interview when he discusses his removal from Apple and says, “John Sculley had cultivated close relationships with members of the board…”, where I started to imagine how great it would be to one day hear the inside story of how Jobs ousted Gil Amelio and got back into the chairman/CEO seat at Apple.
That’s a good example for those of you who read the Walter Isaacson book. Because there is plenty of space remaining to explore Jobs’ life and career. Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview is an important part of that. If you believe, as I do, that Jobs will prove to be as important to American history as Ben Franklin or Edison or Henry Ford, then this is an extremely important part of his narrative.
Full Disclosure: My stepfather worked for Apple when I was a kid. We got our first Apple II when I was five years old, and I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know the mythical origin story of the two Steves (Wozniak and Jobs) who started the personal computer revolution in Jobs’ parents’ garage. I’m a sucker for this stuff. I was the kid who was shocked that NeXT never became as big as IBM, let alone Apple, so this interview where Steve Jobs answers questions from a mere mortal is mesmerizing. To call it “compelling” would not be a strong enough word.
I know you all bought the Isaacson book, sure, but even for those of you who actually finished reading it, this will be both enlightening and inspiring. It’s enlightening, because you’ll see him speak at length from a position other than absolute power and inspiring for the same reason. After all, he invented the Apple computer and was then forced out completely. There are more than a few lessons to be learned from this interview, recorded less than 18 months before his return to the company that he — and I — loved.
(Feature photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)