Steve Jobs The Lost Interview


A movie for every day of the year – a good one



20 December



NeXT merges with Apple, 1996

On this day in 1996, Apple Computer Inc agreed a deal with Next Computer Inc to buy Next for $429 million, plus 1.5 million Apple shares. Next had been set up by Steve Jobs after he had been ousted in 1985 from Apple, the company he had co-founded in 1976. The deal involved the return of Jobs to Apple, which was seen as something of a second coming for Apple, whose fortunes had been languishing since Jobs had left (and before he had left too). The deal was brokered by Gil Amelio, who had been hired only in February 1996 specifically to turn the company around, something he had already managed with National Semiconductor. Since February Amelio had managed to make Apple profitable again – $25 million dollars profit in the quarter ending 27 September – but what Apple really needed was game-changing new software, in particular an operating system. Next had the software, having decided only in 1993 to abandon hardware production and concentrate solely on software (which analysts had been telling Apple to do for ever). When he returned to Apple, Jobs came with the job title of “adviser” to Gil Amelio and was crucial in adapting OPENSTEP, the Unix-based operating system based on the NeXTSTEP system developed by Jobs and his team at NeXT, for the Macintosh. It eventually became Mac OS X, the computer’s tenth operating system. Another piece of Next software, WebObjects, went on to become the heart of the Apple Store and eventually the iTunes Store. In 1997 Jobs organised a boardroom coup against Amelio and became interim CEO.




Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview (2012, dir: Paul Sen)

If you have any interest in computers at all, this 1995 interview between journalist Robert X Cringely and Steve Jobs is fascinating viewing. It was conducted while Jobs was at Next, between his stints at Apple, and while he was still licking his wounds having been unceremoniously thrown out of the company he had built with Steve Wozniak from nothing. Pretty much unedited raw footage, single camera, fixed chair, it’s a wide ranging affair in which Cringely, a former Apple man and clearly a friend of Jobs’s, asks Jobs about how he got started, on his philosophy of running a company, on being super-rich and on the competition. His answers are worth hearing in full – but here’s a cut out and keep quickie guide. Getting started: he literally found the number for Bob Hewlett (of Hewlett Packard) in the phone book, rang him up and asked for a job. Jobs was 12 at the time. He liked working there – they had coffee and donuts. On his own first computers: with Wozniak he built a device that could hack into AT&T’s phone system and make calls for free. “Everybody should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you to think,” says Jobs. On running a company: “the product people get driven out of decision-making forums… the product genius gets rotted out”, he says, on the dread creep of marketing people into every area. “Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry.” On being rich: “I was earning $100 million by the time I was 25. And it wasn’t that important because I wasn’t in it for the money.” On the competition: “My only problem with Microsoft is that they just don’t have taste… Microsoft is McDonalds.” Looking forward ten years – it was 1995 when the interview was conducted, so he’s talking about 2005, Jobs predicts that the future is… “the web. It’s going to be huge.” And on the computer, which Jobs helped take out of the hands of techies: “Of all the inventions of humans, the computer is going to rank at the top as history unfolds. It’s the most awesome tool we have ever invented.”



Why Watch?


  • If there are prophets of the computer world, Jobs was one
  • A charismatic man – feared by some – at his most relaxed
  • There is very little footage from this time, when Jobs was still young and sleek
  • Because Jobs is being open and honest – he’s running a tiny company, not a computer megacorp


© Steve Morrissey 2013



Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview – at Amazon





4 thoughts on “Steve Jobs The Lost Interview”

  1. If there's one entrepreneur that deserves a seventy-two minute theatrical interview, it's Apple's Steve Jobs. Whether or not you like or support the infectious company, it is no doubt that Jobs was an incredible man of business, craft, and personality, one who provided shock treatment to Apple when bankruptcy was looming and one of incredible enigma and intelligence.

    In 1995, filmmaker Robert X. Cringley sat down with the legendary Jobs a decade after he departed from Apple after contentious, power-hungry relations with John Sculley. At seventy-two minutes, a lengthy interview with Jobs was exceptionally rare due to the fact that he stayed out of the limelight and rarely let his true charisma and insight be revealed to the public. During this time, Jobs was the founder of his self-made company, NeXT, which he would then sell to Apple in 1996 to become the CEO of the company, producing a number of gadgets and time-savers that would eventually morph into things people seemingly couldn't live without. He makes very clear in the interview that he wants to make each generation better and better with a new and consistent line of technology. It's 2012, and we have already met such works as the iPod, the iPhone, the iTouch, the Mac computer, and the iPad, so it's needless to say that Jobs had hastily worked to make that vision a reality.

    The interview was filmed, some of it was spliced into Cringley's PBS series Triumph of the Nerd, until the entire thing was reportedly lost after being shipped from New York en-route to London. Not long after Jobs' death, it was discovered on VHS and released theatrically in very limited theaters and is now currently on several video on demand services before its official DVD release later this summer.

    During the interview, the loquacious, attentive, and always engaged Jobs talks in great lengths about his humble beginnings and fascinations with computers, how he researched at Hewlett-Packard, his friendship with Steve Wozniak, and gives a meticulous account of his vision for the future, his bold ideas, and continually presents himself with his unconditional charm and insights on his life and interests.

    One of Jobs' many metaphorical references to his life is how, when he was young, he assisted an elderly man with chores that lived on his block, despite his ominous appearance and vibes. One day, the man showed him a rock-tumbler, where he put in ugly-looking stones, some liquid, and some grit-powder. He told Jobs to come back the next day, and when he did, the stones were shiny and polished, from the intense liquid bath and the friction they created from rubbing against each other. Jobs states that humans are the same way when put in a situation together that tests them intellectually. They will have to clash with other people, share different ideas, maybe argue a little bit, before creating something that is unique and impressive.

    One of the final questions brought up by interviewer Cringley (who is heard, but never seen) is what are Jobs' views on Microsoft as a company. "Microsoft is McDonalds," Jobs replies. He states how they have a great success story and model, but have no creativity or substance behind their relatively bland products – strangely harsh words from a man so close with Bill Gates. But the interview itself it full of these kinds of surprises.

    Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview can't be called a film, for as it is one long, static shot of Steve Jobs, occasionally interrupted by a freeze-frame and a voice-over of Cringley wording the questions he remembers asking, and begins with a very brief introduction explaining the origins of this interview by Cringley himself. The only problem in sight with the interview is it neglects to provide the viewer with more context or history leading up to this point in Jobs' life. The filmmakers were probably riveted to find the lost footage and anxiously impatient to show it to the public as fast as possible. Nevertheless, the raw footage we get is compelling and intriguing and could brew a new documentary on Jobs in and of itself.

    Starring: Steve Jobs and Robert X. Cringley. Directed by: Paul Sen.

  2. That was a very interesting interview. Jobs relates some good stories. This covers a good-sized slice of computer history, snapped at a turning point in time. Thanks for making it available. Thanks to Landmark Theatres, too. Hopefully we'll see it on DVD/BD soon, too.

    I can't believe anyone who paid to see it would give this movie a low rating. Not a stunning film, but what do people expect from an unedited interview? Yes, much of the material is covered in Isaacson's book. But it's great to see and hear the stories delivered by the man himself.

    By the way, I agree with you about APL! 🙂 Great reaction from Jobs on that. :-)))

  3. I've read "Steve Jobs", an authorized biography, by Walter Isaacson and for me this interview cover most of aspects of this remarkable visionary. It spans through almost all of history of high-tech, telling us about things that we use without noticing them in our life today as extensions of our human being.

    I've seen "jOBS" which I rated 7/10 because it didn't mentioned "the little blue box" which is very important as Steve Jobs is telling in this interview was one of things he remembered for life – even small things can empower small people with capability to rule billions worth of industries. And it is true, everything that is big grows from even smallest things. Visionary is a person who can see those small things that will change our life in the future.

    Steve Jobs was first to see the importance of GUI, mouse, desktop publishing, the internet, computers for schools. He had changed our life.

  4. In 1995, during the making of his TV series Triumph of the Nerds about the birth of the PC, Bob Cringely did a memorable hour-long interview with Steve Jobs.During that time of the interview,Jobs was running NeXT, the computer company he had founded when he got fired from Apple after a bruising struggle with John Sculley, the CEO he had brought into the company.The whole hour long interview was presented in it after it was found by the series director,Paul Sen.

    I enjoyed the interview thoroughly.In it,Jobs was at his charismatic best explaining his rise and fall as founder of Apple by narrating the early days when he and Steve Wozniak built the Apple I in a garage, and unknowingly invented cell phones by rigging it to send a telephone call around the world to ring the pay phone next door a minute later. As I quote him,"We realized we two could control billions of dollars in infrastructure!".He also remembers them and his one time experience of calling the Pope and hanging up when they realized they'd actually gotten through.Aside from that,he was frank about John Sculley,the CEO at Apple he hired from Pepsi especially after he drove him out of the company he started.Besides that,he was clearly a visionary as he stated of things to come in the computer industry after visiting Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) in the 1980's. He was simply witty and outspoken.

    Most of all,the was simply a visionary who proves himself to be ahead of his time when it comes to computer industry especially with things to come like the internet,mobile devices,computers,software,networking and many others that exist today after coming back as CEO of Apple in the late 90's when he mentioned them when the interview took place. Overall,this is one excellent interview that an Apple device owner should watch.

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