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.
Bill Burr has been one of my favorite comedians for many years. Whether he’s talking about sports, relationships or growing up in Boston, Bill always makes me laugh. One of my favorite bits of his is his take on Steve Jobs. Here is a clip from a few years ago at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival as Burr goes off on our favorite “techno-jesus”. Warning: Language!
Every Sunday morning I plan to blog about the history of technology. Up first is 1999′s TNT original movie Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Made for TV movie? How good can it be? Answer: it’s my favorite made for TV movie of all time and among my favorite movies in general. Read on to find out why.
Pirates of Silicon Valley focuses mainly on the history of Apple and Microsoft starting in the 1970s through the mid 1980s, with a short wrap-up taking place in 1997. We meet Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer while they are students at Harvard and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak while they are sometimes in and sometimes out of school. Most of the film centers around the growth of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as individuals and covers how their careers and companies rise but then go in opposite directions starting in the mid 80s.
What makes this movie so good is that it sticks very close to the actual history while still remaining quite interesting as well as having terrific performances from its lead actors. Noah Wyle in particular in incredible as Steve Jobs while Anthony Michael Hall (yes that Anthony Michael Hall) as Bill Gates is also fantastic.
Steve Wozniak himself says in the following YouTube clip that the movie is basically step for step in line with the actual history:
Steve Jobs liked his portrayal so much that he invited Noah Wyle to imitate him at 1999′s MacWorld event following the release of the film:
If you happened to watch last year’s movie Jobs just know that Pirates of Silicon Valley is better in almost every way. Better acting (sorry Ashton), better script and more historically accurate. On top of it all, Pirates manages to cover not just the life and career of Steve Jobs (up until the mid 90s anyway) but also Bill Gates as well. Rotten Tomatoes happens to agree with me, giving Pirates an 89% rating while Jobs has a rating of 27%. Not bad for a TNT original.
There is yet another Steve Jobs movie coming out next year, this time based on the official Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. While I did enjoy Isaacson’s book, based on what few details I’ve heard about the movie, I’m not holding out much hope that it turns out well. In an ideal world, the cast and crew of Pirates of Silicon Valley would get back together to make a sequel that would start off where the first move left off and finish probably at the death of Steve Jobs.
Now that I’ve convinced you that Pirates of Silicon Valley is a must watch movie you can dive right in and watch it below: