A couple of “lost interview” videos with Steve Jobs conducted in 1990 and 1995 during Jobs’s years running NeXT Computer (when he was 35 and 40 respectively) have recently been unearthed. Both address many of the same topics, the unedited 1990 version being more raw and in some ways more fascinating for that. Jobs had refined and polished his presentation into the persona we more recently recall by ’95. We see the process of refinement in progress with Jobs at one point requesting a do-over of his answer to one question in ’90.
The full 2005 Steve Jobs lost interview with Paul Sen—reportedly found in 2011 by Robert Cringely in his garage—is a candid, in-depth exchange with the late visionary when he was 40 years old. Jobs discusses at length his early days, career battles, and vision for the future. Small portions of the piece were used for a television series at the time, but the vast majority was shelved and thought to be lost. Resurfacing, it is being presented in its entirety, providing a fascinating look at Jobs at a particularly interesting moment in his career, two years before he would go on to retake control of Apple.
A few snippets that particularly stood out for me are Jobs’s analogy of the personal computer being a “bicycle for the mind” (the interview provides context for that observation) and his famous citation of Picasso’s “good artists copy, and great artists steal” quote, noting that Apple and NeXT had always been completely shameless about stealing great ideas, but with the qualifier that “if you take an idea from someone else and improve it tremendously, you end up of owning that ‘new’ idea and getting the acknowledgments for it. And if you owned that idea, then you’ve kind of stole it from it’s creator—figuratively speaking. But in the process you made something better and everyone benefits.”
However, I think his most profound observation here is that in terms of creating really great products, “Ultimately, it comes down to taste,” and “a desire to expose yourself to the greatest things humans have accomplished.” Jobs once famously observed that Microsoft had no taste, which explained their inconsistency in occasionally emitting a spark of brilliance in what was primarily a vast sea of mediocrity.
Apple had no such problem under Jobs, but it remains to be seen whether his impeccable sense of taste in product conception and development can be carried on without him.
The Steve Jobs lost interview video has a 100 percent positive Rotten Apple Tomatometer rating, and is available on iTunes for $14.99. A three and a half minute teaser that will likely whet your appetite for viewing the whole thing has been posted to YouTube:
The Steve Jobs in-depth interview (1990) covers revolutions in the computer industry, Jobs’s first computer experience, how Apple got started, the Macintosh crazy launch, the impact of the Internet, Job’s consumer computer vision, Xerox PARC, the doers, the Apple I, and market research.