A long Steve Jobs interview with Playboy from 1985 has been making the rounds of late.As with most long interviews with Jobs its filled with fantastic nuggets about his life, Apple, and the future of computing.
We read the interview and pulled out our 15 favourite quotes and anecdotes.
The author of the interview was amazed by the perks and culture of Apple: 'The Apple offices are clearly not like most places of employment. Video games abound, pingpong tables are in use, speakers blare out music ranging from The Rolling Stones to Windham Hill jazz. Conference rooms are named after Da Vinci and Picasso, and snack-room refrigerators are stocked with fresh carrot, apple and orange juice. (The Mac team alone spends $100,000 on fresh juice per year.)'
Steve Jobs showed off a Mac to a 9 year old at a New York party. Andy Warhol was there, saw the computer and was amazed.
But, the best part is Jobs was more interested in playing with the 9 year old. Why? Jobs says, 'Older people sit down and ask, 'What is it?' but the boy asks, 'What can I do with it?''
Here's his full explanation: 'We're living in the wake of the petrochemical revolution of 100 years ago. The petrochemical revolution gave us free energy--free mechanical energy, in this case. It changed the texture of society in most ways. This revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind: free intellectual energy. It's very crude today, yet our Macintosh computer takes less power than a 100-watt light bulb to run and it can save you hours a day. What will it be able to do 10 or 20 years from now, or 50 years from now? This revolution will dwarf the petrochemical revolution. We're on the forefront.'
Here's how Jobs would sell a computer to a sceptic: 'A computer is the most incredible tool we've ever seen. It can be a writing tool, a communications centre, a supercalculator, a planner, a filer and an artistic instrument all in one, just by being given new instructions, or software, to work from. There are no other tools that have the power and versatility of a computer. We have no idea how far it's going to go. Right now, computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours. They increase the quality of life, some of that by simply automating drudgery and some of that by broadening our possibilities. As things progress, they'll be doing more and more for us.'
Here's a good give and take on Apple's pricing:
JOBS: Someday we may be able to build a colour screen for a reasonable price. As to overpricing, the start-up of a new product makes it more expensive than it will be later. The more we can produce, the lower the price will get----
PLAYBOY: That's what critics charge you with: hooking the enthusiasts with premium prices, then turning around and lowering your prices to catch the rest of the market.
JOBS: That's simply untrue. As soon as we can lower prices, we do. It's true that our computers are less expensive today than they were a few years ago, or even last year. But that's also true of the IBM PC. Our goal is to get computers out to tens of millions of people, and the cheaper we can make them, the easier it's going to be to do that. I'd love it if Macintosh cost $1000.
Does this sound like it might hit home for Steve Jobs? ' You know, Dr. Edwin Land was a troublemaker. He dropped out of Harvard and founded Polaroid. Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organisation to reflect that. Polaroid did that for some years, but eventually Dr. Land, one of those brilliant troublemakers, was asked to leave his own company--which is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of. So Land, at 75, went off to spend the remainder of his life doing pure science, trying to crack the code of colour vision. The man is a national treasure. I don't understand why people like that can't be held up as models: This is the most incredible thing to be--not an astronaut, not a football player--but this.'
Here's his take on what happens if IBM beats Apple: 'If, for some reason, we make some giant mistakes and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter sort of a computer Dark Ages for about 20 years. Once IBM gains control of a market sector, they almost always stop innovation. They prevent innovation from happening.'
Steve Jobs didn't think there would be multiple hardware vendors, but there would be multiple software vendors. He got this one backwards. One of the few things he didn't predict correctly.
'In terms of supplying the computer itself, it's coming down to Apple and IBM. And I don't think there are going to be a lot of third- and fourth-place companies, much less sixth- or seventh-place companies. Most of the new, innovative companies are focusing on the software. I think there will be lots of innovation in the areas of software but not in hardware.'
'My mother taught me to read before I went to school, so I was pretty bored in school, and I turned into a little terror. You should have seen us in third grade. We basically destroyed our teacher. We would let snakes loose in the classroom and explode bombs. Things changed in the fourth grade, though. One of the saints in my life is this woman named Imogene Hill, who was a fourth-grade teacher who taught this advanced class. She got hip to my whole situation in about a month and kindled a passion in me for learning things. I learned more that year than I think I learned in any year in school. They wanted to put me in high school after that year, but my parents very wisely wouldn't let them.'
Jobs got a job at HP after he called Bill Hewlett asking for parts to a computer. Hewlett was listed in the phone book!
From Atari, Jobs and Steve Wozniak ended up making the Apple I.
Jobs on killing older companies: 'That's inevitably what happens. That's why I think death is the most wonderful invention of life. It purges the system of these old models that are obsolete. I think that's one of Apple's challenges, really. When two young people walk in with the next thing, are we going to embrace it and say this is fantastic? Are we going to be willing to drop our models, or are we going to explain it away? I think we'll do better, because we're completely aware of it and we make it a priority.'
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