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Monday, July 09, 2012

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview

In addition to my Film Studies degree, I have a diploma in Computer Programming that I received from Humber College in 2003.  While I don't do all that much programming these days, I am still very much interested in computers and technology and I was quite interested in watching this unearthed 1995 interview with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, which is playing for a two night run at the Bloor Cinema.

This is the full unabridged interview Steve Jobs gave for the TV documentary The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires, which was thought lost but was recently discovered.  With the exception of an introduction and occasional narration by the interviewer Robert X. Cringely, the entire film is just the interview shown in its original VHS aspect ratio (and quality).  For that reason, this would almost be a documentary that plays off better on television, however since Steve Jobs was a larger than life persona, perhaps it was appropriate that I saw it on a movie screen.

Steve Jobs rarely gave interviews during his lifetime, so this interview was quite a discovery.  The interview was made at a very interesting point in the history of computers - PCs and Microsoft Windows were at the top of the world and Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.  This is very much the world I grew up in, where Macs were only computers that you would occasionally see in schools (probably part of the reason why I'm not too crazy about their dominance today).

It's very interesting to hear what Jobs had to say in this interview.  He lamented about the fact that, after he was fired from Apple, the company started to go into decline, without any new innovations.  He stated that it took Microsoft ten years to catch up with the Mac and he implied that Apple would've ruled computing if he stayed with the company.

Of course that's exactly what happened.  In fact, Steve Jobs returned to Apple shortly after this interview was filmed and helped to bring them to the highs that they are currently experiencing.  I should also note that, in the interview, Jobs made note of the importance of the (then relatively new) World Wide Web and it's almost spooky how spot on he predicted how important the web would become for our commercial and social needs.

An interview with Steve Jobs wouldn't be complete without some jabs at Bill Gates and Microsoft and Jobs criticized Microsoft's products for being dull and not very creative.  Even though I'm a very big PC supporter, it can be hard to argue with this statement.  It can generally be agreed that Steve Jobs was the visionary that created the ideas, while Bill Gates was the somewhat more uptight businessman who implemented other people's ideas (including Jobs').

This was definitely an enthralling interview that both techies and non-techies can enjoy (there was actually applause at the end).  It was very interesting watching Jobs at a time when he was merely an observer of the industry he helped create.  Watching this with the knowledge of what comes afterward helps you to understand that there probably will never again be a visionary like Steve Jobs (maybe Mark Zuckerberg - we'll see in 30 years).

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).