Steve Jobs 1985 Playboy Interview

Steve Jobs 1985 Playboy Interview Photo

After taking a two month break, Teach History Sunday is back. On Sundays I enjoy blogging about the history of technology. As my seventh entry, here are some excerpts from the 1985 Playboy interview of Steve Jobs.


The year was 1985. Steve Jobs was not yet 30, was reporting to new Apple CEO John Sculley and just came off of launching the Macintosh. The trajectory of both Apple and Jobs would change course soon as Steve Jobs would find himself fired by the company he founded. Because of this critical period of time it is particularly insightful to  read the 1985 Playboy interview of Steve Jobs. My favorite quote is the following:

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 organization 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 color 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.

Steve Jobs was very prescient of recognizing the coming Internet revolution even back in 1985 as expressed in this quote:

The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people—as remarkable as the telephone.

Jobs wasn’t right about everything though. His view that IBM would crush the clone makers had it backwards – it was actually IBM that would get beat:

A lot of people thought we were nuts for not being IBM-compatible, for not living under IBM’s umbrella. There were two key reasons we chose to bet our company on not doing that: The first was that we thought—and I think as history is unfolding, we’re being proved correct—that IBM would fold its umbrella on the companies making compatible computers and absolutely crush them.

The whole interview is worth reading. Read the interview in it’s entirety here.