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an instant in the life of the technology hippie

In 1995, the American journalist Robert X. Cringely wrote a documentary with interviews with the most important people in the world of computers who had managed to build real empires with technology. The film, called ” The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires “, contained statements from more than forty personalities, including Steve Jobs.

Once the documentary was edited, during the transfer of the originals from London to the USA some were lost, among them the complete recording of the interview with Steve Jobs. It was not just any interview: from here came historical quotes such as that “computers are like bicycles to our minds” or the dubious taste that the former Apple CEO gave to Microsoft.

an instant in the life of the technology hippiean instant in the life of the technology hippie

The rest of the complete documentary was found a few months ago in the producer’s garage, copied to a VHS tape that still had it. The content of the film is very interesting because we see a relaxed Jobs talking about the same story of Apple and computers, just a year before NeXT was acquired by the company and he saved it from bankruptcy.

Steve Jobs, the lost interview

We began by hearing Jobs talk about his childhood. As a 12-year-old he phoned William Hewlett to ask for electronic components for a home frequency meter he was building, which got him a summer job at HP. Within a company of that caliber, he became aware of the value of employees , something that no doubt later impacted on Apple. And we find many similar situations in the documentary: fragments of a puzzle that, when we walk away once assembled, is where we see the Apple we know.

Another important moment is the construction of the Bluebox, where Jobs and Woz managed to put the largest telecommunications infrastructure in the USA in check with a home appliance. This demonstrated the capacity that anyone had to overcome and build something big that would impact the established.

On the creation of Apple, the concept of “inherited beliefs” is interesting. A nuance that defines when a company slows down in its evolution, and stops asking the right questions about something that nobody questions. For Jobs, Apple’s soul is to never stop asking questions, to twist the smallest detail.

What was wrong with the Apple “of the time” ( let’s remember, almost bankrupt )? Jobs cannot contain a certain twinge when he hears it, but he does not tremble when he explains it: ” they are making products that are far from the company’s philosophy. Apple has failed to understand what we wanted to achieve and they are stagnating because they have barely evolved. Today’s Macintosh, ten years later, is barely 25% more innovative.

He, before being kicked out of Apple, formed his own team. He understood that not everyone at Apple was ready for his vision ( blames much of the blame on Apple’s employees from HP ), and just wanted to put together a team with a soul for his Macintosh project : ” was a small team, and we had a divine mission “, he says with a smile.

Jobs saw the confrontations as necessary discussions to polish a product, and he tells an anecdote with a stone polisher that a neighbour teaches him as a young man: ” Great ideas are born as blows between stones, with discussions between us, which outline and give rise to a beautiful, polished product “.

The rest of the teams at Apple were failing. The board of directors wanted to know who was to blame and John Scully, the current CEO at the time ( and hired by Jobs himself ) took the blame. An unusual moment in the interview is when Cringely asks Jobs how he was taken away from his company, and he doesn’t hesitate to give a couple of explanations, a pause and a sentence: ” I’m going to be very excited if we keep talking about this “.

Jobs and his return

In the final part of the interview, they talk about the critical situation of Apple . It really was a company on the verge of disappearing, and when asked about it, Jobs states: ” I don’t think that this trend is reversible at this point “. However… we know how the story ends. And for a moment, I saw a Jobs saying something he didn’t believe. I’m absolutely convinced that at that time, a year before his return, he already had a plan B … if he got the call.

Another point that makes me think that way is when they ask you about NeXT. What is NeXT doing to change the world of computers? It surprises the answer, from a person who was its maximum responsible at that time: ” We can’t do anything. We are very small… and I just observe “. No doubt Jobs was hoping for something that could connect the two companies (as happened later), and I firmly believe that at some point before the fateful end, he could get Apple back on track. NeXT was one of the energies he would inject to achieve this.

The documentary itself, a little over an hour long, is much denser and it’s curious to hear Jobs talk about his entire story in the terms he does. It is a pure reflection of Apple : reflexive, cautious, taking into account that every step is important and expressing himself without any false words. We must congratulate Canal+ for offering in Spain the full interview for the first time on TV ( in the USA was broadcasted directly in the cinemas ), and that you have the opportunity to see again in the following shows:

  • June 9, 2012 – 19:50-21:00 CANAL+ XTRA and 19:50-21:00 CANAL+ XTRA HD
  • June 20, 2012 – 12:50-14:00 CANAL+1, 12:50-14:00 CANAL+1 HD and 13:20-14:30 CANAL+1
  • June 25, 2012 – 23:30-00:40 CANAL+ XTRA HD and 23:30-00:40 CANAL+ XTRA
  • June 29, 2012 – 13:45-15:00 CANAL+2

At the end of the interview, Cringely asks Jobs if he considers himself a hippie or a nerd. The answer is the pure definition of the spirit of Apple : ” A hippie. His way of thinking looking for something beyond what we usually see in everyday life is what defines me. Me, and all those who work with me “.

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