Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered MIT’s 2017 commencement address this
morning (June 9) to graduates at the university’s Cambridge, MA campus.
His speech focused on how technology can better serve humanity and the
power students have to change the world for the better.
Thank you. Congratulations class of ’17. I especially want to thank
Chairman Millard, President Reif, distinguished faculty, trustees, and
the members of the class of 1967. It is a privilege to be here today
with your families and your friends on such on amazing and important
MIT and Apple share so much. We both love hard problems. We love the
search for new ideas, and we especially love finding those ideas, the
really big ones, the ones that can change the world. I know MIT has a
proud tradition of pranks or as you would call them, hacks. And you have
have pulled off some pretty great ones over the years. I’ll never figure
out how MIT students sent that Mars rover to the Kresge Oval, or put a
propeller beanie on the great dome, or how you’ve obviously taken over
the president’s Twitter account. I can tell college students are behind
because most of the Tweets happen at 3:00 a.m.
I’m really happy to be here. Today is about celebration. And you have so
much to be proud of. As you leave here to start the next leg of your
journey in life, there will be days where you ask yourself, ‘Where is
this all going?’ ‘What is the purpose?’ ‘What is my purpose?’ I will be
honest, I asked myself that same question and it took nearly 15 years to
answer it. Maybe by talking about my journey today, I can save you some
The struggle for me started early on. In high school, I thought I
discovered my life’s purpose when I could answer that age-old question,
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Nope. In college I thought
I’d discover it when I could answer, ‘What’s your major?’ Not quite. I
thought that maybe I’d discovered it when I found a good job. Then I
thought I just needed to get a few promotions. That didn’t work
I kept convincing myself that it was just over the horizon, around the
next corner. Nothing worked. And it was really tearing me apart. Part of
me kept pushing ahead to the next achievement. And the other part kept
asking, ‘Is this all there is?’ I went to grad school at Duke looking
for the answer. I tried meditation. I sought guidance in religion. I
read great philosophers and authors. And in a moment of youthful
indiscretion, I might even have experimented with a Windows PC, and
obviously that didn’t work.
After countless twists and turns, at last, 20 years ago, my search
brought me to Apple. At the time, the company was struggling to survive.
Steve Jobs had just returned to Apple, and had launched the ‘Think
Different’ campaign. He wanted to empower the crazy ones—the misfits,
the rebels and the troublemakers, the round pegs, and the square
holes—to do the best work. If we could just do that, Steve knew we could
really change the world.
Before that moment, I had never met a leader with such passion or
encountered a company with such a clear and compelling purpose: to serve
humanity. It was just that simple. Serve humanity. And it was in that
moment, after 15 years of searching, something clicked. I finally felt
aligned. Aligned with a company that brought together challenging,
cutting edge work with a higher purpose. Aligned with a leader who
believed that technology which didn’t exist yet could reinvent
tomorrow’s world. Aligned with myself and my own deep need to serve
Of course, at that moment I don’t know all of that. I was just grateful
to have psychological burden lifted. But with the help of hindsight, my
breakthrough makes a lot more sense. I was never going to find my
purpose working some place without a clear sense of purpose of its own.
Steve and Apple freed me to throw my whole self into my work, to embrace
their mission and make it my own. How can I serve humanity? This is
life’s biggest and most important question. When you work towards
something greater than yourself, you find meaning, you find purpose. So
the question I hope you will carry forward from here is how will you
The good news is since you are here today you are on a great track. At
MIT you have learned how much power that science and technology have to
change the world for the better. Thanks to discoveries made right here,
billions of people are leading healthier, more productive and more
fulfilling lives. And if we’re ever going to solve some of the hardest
problems facing the world today, everything from cancer to climate
change to educational inequality, then technology will help us to do it.
But technology alone isn’t the solution. And sometimes it’s even part of
Last year I had the chance to meet with Pope Francis. It was the most
incredible meeting of my life. This is a man who has spent more time
comforting the inflicted in slums than with heads of state. This may
surprise you, but he knew an unbelievable amount about technology. It
was obvious to me that he had thought deeply about it. Its opportunity.
Its risks. Its morality. What he said to me at that meeting, what he
preached, really, was on a topic that we care a lot about at Apple. But
he expressed a shared concern in a powerful new way: Never has humanity
had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures it will be used wisely,
he has said.
Technology today is integral to almost all aspects of our lives and most
of the time it’s a force for good. And yet the potential adverse
consequences are spreading faster and cutting deeper. The threats to
security, threats to privacy, fake news, and social media that becomes
antisocial. Sometimes the very technology that is meant to connect us
divides us. Technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn’t
want to do great things. It doesn’t want anything. That part takes all
of us. It takes our values and our commitment to our families and our
neighbors and our communities, our love of beauty and belief that all of
our faiths are interconnected, our decency, our kindness.
I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the
ability to think like humans. I’m more concerned about people thinking
like computers without values or compassion, without concern for
consequences. That is what we need you to help us guard against. Because
if science is a search in the darkness, then the humanities are a candle
that shows us where we’ve been and the danger that lies ahead.
As Steve once said, technology alone is not enough. It is technology
married with the liberal arts married with the humanities that make our
hearts sing. When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can
have an enormous impact. It means an iPhone that allows the blind person
to run a marathon. It means an Apple Watch that catches a heart
condition before it becomes a heart attack. It means an iPad that helps
a child with autism connect with his or her world. In short, it means
technology infused with your values, making progress possible for
Whatever you do in your life, and whatever we do at Apple, we must
infuse it with the humanity that each of us is born with. That
responsibility is immense, but so is the opportunity. I’m optimistic
because I believe in your generation, your passion, your journey to
serve humanity. We are all counting on you. There is so much out there
conspiring to make you cynical. The internet has enabled so much and
empowered so many, but it can also be a place where basic rules of
decency are suspended and pettiness and negativity thrive.
Don’t let that noise knock you off course. Don’t get caught up in the
trivial aspects of life. Don’t listen to trolls and for God’s sake don’t
become one. Measure your impact in humanity not in the likes, but the
lives you touch; not in popularity, but in the people you serve. I found
that my life got bigger when I stopped carrying about what other people
thought about me. You will find yours will too. Stay focused on what
really matters. There will be times when your resolve to serve humanity
will be tested. Be prepared. People will try to convince you that you
should keep your empathy out of your career. Don’t accept this false
At a shareholders meeting a few years back, someone questioned Apple’s
investment and focus on the environment. He asked me to pledge that
Apple would only invest in green initiatives that could be justified
with a return on investment. I tried to be diplomatic. I pointed out
that Apple does many things, like accessibility features for those with
disabilities that don’t rely on an ROI. We do the things because they
are the right thing to d, and protecting the environment is a critical
example. He wouldn’t let it go and I got my blood up. So I told him, “If
you can’t accept our position, you shouldn’t own Apple stock.”
When you are convinced that your cause is right, have the courage to
take a stand. If you see a problem or an injustice, recognize that no
one will fix it but you. As you go forward today, use your minds and
hands and your hearts to build something bigger than yourselves. Always
remember there is no idea bigger than this. As Dr. Martin Luther King
said, “All life is interrelated. We are all bound together into a single
garment of destiny.” If you keep that idea at the forefront of all that
you do, if you choose to live your lives at that intersection between
technology and the people it serves, if you strive to create the best,
give the best, do the best for everyone, not just for some, then today
all of humanity has good cause for hope.
Thank you very much and congratulations class of 2017!
Apple’s plans for a tablet are concerned. Although there is an abundant
flow of rumors suggesting the device is coming, there is also a lot of
speculation on the iPhone 4.0 front. Had it not been for the truckloads
of 10-inch panels Apple has reportedly secured from Taiwan
suppliers, we’d be awfully tempted to believe the Apple tablet and the
next-gen iPhone are one and the same. This, and a lot of other questions
are waiting to be answered right now.Softpedia has never given up hope
on the Apple tablet. It appears that demand for such a device
exists. Hundreds of articles speculating on the matter continue to
appear in our RSS feeds with the passing of each year. While the tablet
concept has failed to become a mainstream hit, trend-setter Apple may
just turn things around, these speculators believe . However, we also
can’t imagine Apple taking the risk of not appealing to the masses.The
iPhone is a great device. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer did not see it at
first, but it turned out to be one of the best things for Apple’s
business. It was clear that Apple knew what the future would hold, as it
was the one writing it. Apple’s confidence is unmatchable, we can all
agree. So, why shouldn’t the same intuitive, touch-screen interface work
for a tablet?It will, for sure. But it’s not clear exactly how many
adopters it will have. And the timing is crucial. Chances are not that
many people want a $1,000 e-book reader right now. After all, that’s
pretty much how people see a tablet device today, and Apple is not
likely to charge any less. With the current technology, other
activities, such as typing, may prove more difficult to do on a tablet
than on a regular laptop / netbook. In fact, no one is complaining about
the buttons on these things. They’re great devices too. So, if Apple
knows what we want before we do, perhaps now is the time all those
nifty patents should materialize. One question remains: will it happen
this month?An “experiment” to see what exactly people want right now
wouldn’t hurt, Softpedia believes. Apple may well introduce an enhanced
iPhone this year, including tablet-specific functionality as bait. Apple
has been rumored to launch a tablet before, and it hasn’t. The company
has turned down taking a bite of the netbook market as well, and has
evidently had trouble combining portability with usability here. The
iPhone, however, seems to have entered this niche quite well. So,
why not introduce a completely overhauled version of the same highly
portable (and highly successful) pocket computer at no expense? Provided
that around 70% of the iPhone’s popularity is owed to the software, a
slightly bigger, next-generation iPhone / iPod touch makes a lot of
sense right now.
Hinting at Apple’s habit of constantly increasing screen real-estate,
an artist tries to depict the next-generation iPhone.Credits: TUAW
Think about it: new iPhone -> the screen is one inch larger on the
diagonal -> tons of extra stuff now possible thanks to the increased
real-estate -> more room for a comfortable Multi-Touch experience
-> Boom! There’s your Apple tablet right there.iPhone 4.0 rumors
have been circulating a lot, including one that says SDK 4.0 has a
simulator that reportedly allows devs to take their apps’ screen
resolution above the 320×480 mark. This doesn’t necessarily mean iPhone
apps are being ported to a 10-inch screen device. In fact, the
applications people love on the iPhone and iPod touch would make
terrible additions to a tablet’s home screen. Folks would expect so much
more from the “iSlate,” as some refer to it. If Apple is planning to
deliver a 10-incher, it will most likely need its separate App Store
where tablet-specific content will be hosted. So, another question is
posed: does Apple want so many changes at once, without even being
certain of success? It surely sounds like a big risk, considering there
is still much room for improvement in the current iTunes App Store.We’re
not saying Apple isn’t ready to launch a tablet. Surely, if HP and Dell
can do it, Apple can do it three times better. Competitors like
Nokia and RIM on the smartphone front are still trying to achieve
much of what the first-generation iPhone delivered three years ago.
Plus, a tablet is clearly Apple’s thing. So, if Apple can’t do it right,
chances are no one can. It will be interesting to see how it will all
play out, though, if the Mac maker does ship one in Q2 2010. If it does,
the company will probably have to leave the iPhone behind, or wait for
it to slowly be phased out by the consumer base. Considering Apple will
attempt to offer a truly complete experience, would a tablet not kill
the iPhone? From many perspectives, it just might.Although there is a
lot of buzz surrounding the booking of a stage at Yerba Buena Center
for the Arts, Apple is yet to confirm the event, and even that isn’t a
certainty the tablet is happening right now.These are just a few reasons
why there’s only a 50% chance Apple will release a tablet this year,
Softpedia believes. In some ways, we wouldn’t mind being wrong this time
around. If the product does launch on January 27th, we only hope it can
be used for a lot more than browsing photo galleries.As usual, your
thoughts on this are welcome in the comments.
Steve Jobs – The lost interview
I’m Bob Cringely,
16 years ago when I was making my television series Triumph of the
Nerds, I interviewed Steve Jobs.
That was in 1995, 10 years earlier Steve had left Apple, following a
bruising struggle with John Sculley, the CEO he had brought into the
At the time of our interview, Steve was running NeXT, the niche computer
company he founded after leaving Apple.
Little did we know was within 18 months he would sell NeXT to Apple, and
6 month later he’d be running the place.
The way things work in television we use only a part of that interview
in the series.
And for years we thought the interview was lost for forever
because the master tape were missing while being shipped from London to
US in the 1990s.
Then just a few days ago, series director Paul Sen found a VHS copy of
that interview in his garage.
There are very few TV interviews with Steve Jobs and almost no good
They rarely show the charisma, candor and vision that this interview
And so to honor an amazing man, here’s that interview in its entirety,
Most of these has never been seen before.
Bob: So, how did you get involved, uh, with personal computers?
Steve: Well, I ran into my first computer when I was about 10 or 11.
And it’s hard to remember back then but I’m, I’m an old fossil now, I’m
an old fossil…
So when I was 10 or 11, that was about 30 years ago and no one had ever
seen a computer.
To the extent they’d seen them, they’d seen them in the movies.
And they were really big boxes with whirring. For some reason they
fixated it on the tape drives, as being the icon of what the computer
was, or flashing light somehow.
And, so nobody had ever seen one. They were mysterious, very powerful
things that did something in the background.
And so to see one and actually get to use one was a real privilege back,
and I got into NASA Ames Research Center and I got to use a time sharing
And so I didn’t actually see a computer but I saw a time sharing
And in those days it’s hard to remember how primitive it was. There were
no such things as a computer with a graphics video display.
It was literally a printer. It was a teletype printer with keyboard on
so you would keyboard this commands in and you would wait for a while,
and then things would go “tatatatatata”, and it would tell you something
But even with that, it was still remarkable, especially for a
that you could write a program in BASIC, let’s say, or FORTRAN.
And actually this machine would sort of take your idea, and it would
sort of execute your idea and give you back some results.
And if they were the results you predicted, your program really work,
and it was incredibly thrilling experience.
So I became very err…captivated by computer.
And a computer to me was still a little mysterious
cause it’s at the other end of wire, I had never really seen the actual
I think I got tours of computers after that, saw the insides,
and then I was part of this group at Hewlett-Packard
when I was 12, I called up Bill Hewlett who lived in Hewlett-Packard at
And again this dates me…But there was no such thing as unlisted
telephone number then,
so I can just look into the book and look his name up.
And he answered the phone, and I said Hi, My name is Steve Jobs. You
don’t know me,
but I’m 12 years old, and I’m building a frequency counter, and I’d like
some spare parts.
and so he talked to me for about 20 minutes,
I will never forget as long as I live, he gave me the parts, but he also
gave me a job working in Hewlett-Packard that summer.
and I was 12 years old. and that really made a remarkable influence on
Hewlett-Packard was really the only company I’d ever seen in my life at
And it forms my view of what a company was and how well they treated
You know, at that time, I mean they didn’t know about cholesterol back
And then at that time they used to bring a big car full of donuts and
coffee out at 10 o’clock every morning,
and everyone take a coffee and have a donut break, just little things
It was clear that the company recognized its true values was its
So anyway, things led to things with HP and I started going up to their
Palo Alto Research Labs every Tuesday night,
with a small group of people to meet some of the researchers and staffs.
and I saw the first desktop computer ever made which was the HP 9100.
It was that as big as a suitcase but it actually had a small Cathode Ray
Tube (CRT) display in it.
And it was completed self-contained. There was no wire going off behind
the curtain somewhere, and I fell in love with it.
And you could program BASIC in APL. And I would just, for hours, you
know, get right up to HP and just hang around that machine and write
programs for it.
so that was the early days. And I met Steve Wozniak around that time
maybe a little earlier, when I was about 14, 15 years old.
and we immediately hit it off , and he was the first person I met who
knew more electronics than I did.
So I like him a lot and he was, uh, maybe 5 years older than I.
He gone off to college and got kicked out for pulling pranks.
And he was living with his parents and going to De Anza, the local
so we became best friends and started doing projects together.
We read about the story in Esquire magazine about this guy named Captain
who could supposedly make free telephone calls, you heard about this I’m
And we again, we were captivated. How could anybody do this?
And we thought it must be a hoax.
And we started looking through libraries, looking for the secret tones
that would allow you to do this.
And it turned out that we were at Stanford Linear Accelerate Center one
and way in the bowels of their technical library, way down at the last
bookshelf in the corner bottom rack.
We found an AT&T Technical Journal that laid out the whole thing.
And that’s another moment I’ll never forget.
We saw this journal and we thought “My God! It’s all real”.
And so we set out to build a device to make these tones.
And the way it work was, you know when you make long distance call you
used to hear “dududududu” right in the background.
They were tones that sound like the touch tone you make on your phone,
but they were a different frequency so you couldn’t make them.
It turned out that was the signal from one telephone computer to
controlling the computers in the network.
And AT&T made a fatal flaw when they designed an original telephone
network, digital telephone network,
was they put the signal in from computer to computer in the same band as
which meant if you could make those same signals, you could put it right
into the handset.
And literally, the entire AT&T international phone network would think
that you were an AT&T computer.
So after three weeks we finally built a box like this, that worked.
And I remember the first call we made was down to, uh, LA, one of Woz‘s
relativesdown in Pasadena.
We dialed the wrong number. But we woke some guy up in the middle of the
we were yelling at him like ‘Don’t you understand we made this call for
and this person didn’t appreciate that. But it was miraculous.
And we build these little boxes to do “Blue Boxing” as it was called.
And we put a little note in the bottom of them, and our logo was he’s
got the whole world in his hands, hahaha
And, they worked. We built the best blue box in the world, it was all
digital, no adjustments.
And, so you could go to the pay phone, you could, you know, take a trunk
over the white plane,
and take a satellite over the Europe, and then go to Turkey, take a
cable back to Atlanta.
You could go around the world, you could go around the world 5 or 6
times cause we learned all the codes and how to get on the satellite and
And then you could call the pay phone next doors, so you could shout at
after about a minute it would come to another phone, it was, it was
And you might ask what so interesting about that.
What so interesting is that we were young, and what we learned was that
we could build something, ourselves,
that could control billions of dollars worth of infrastructure in the
That was what we learned, was that, us, two, you know, we didn’t know
we could build the little thing that could control a giant thing.
And that was an incredible lesson. I don’t think there would have ever
been an Apple computer had there not been Blue Box.
Bob: Woz said you called the Pope?
Steve: Yeah, we did call the Pope. He, uh, he pretended to be Henry
And we get the number of the Vatican and we called the pope.
They started waking people up in the hierarchy, you know, I don’t know,
Cardinals, and this and that.
And they actually sent someone to wake up the Pope.
When finally we burst out laughing they realized that we weren’t Henry
And, so we never got the talk to the Pope but it was very funny, so…
Bob: So the jump from Blue Boxes to personal computers, what sparked
Steve: Well, necessity.
In a sense that there was time sharing computers available, and there
was a time sharing company in Mountain View that we could get free time
So, but we need a terminal. And we couldn’t afford one. So we designed
and built one.
And that was the first thing we ever did, we built this terminal.
So what an Apple I was, was really an extension of this terminal,
putting a micro process around the back end.
That’s what it was. It’s really a kind of two separate projects put
So first we built the terminal and then we built the Apple I.
And we, we really built it for ourselves because we couldn’t afford to
And we scavenge parts here and there and stuff. And we built this all by
I mean it take, you know, 40 to 80 hours to build one, and it would
always be breaking cause all these little tiny wires.
So it turned out that a lot of our friends want to build them, too.
And although they could scavenge most of the parts as well, they didn’t
have the sort of skills to build them that we had acquired by training
ourselves through building them.
So we ended up helping them build most of their computers and it was
really taking up all of our time.
And we thought, you know, if we could make, what’s called printed
which is a piece of fiberglass with copper on both sides that’s etched
to form the wire,
so that you can build a computer, you know, you can build an Apple I in
a few hours instead of 40 hours.
if we only had one of those, we could sell them to all of our friends
for, you know as much as it cost to make them, make our money back
and everybody would be happy, we say, we’d get a life again.
So we did that. I sold my Volkswagen bus and Steve sold his calculator,
we got enough money to pay a friend of us to make the art work to make a
printed circuit board.
And we made some printed circuit boards, and we sold some to our
and I was trying to sell the rest of them so we can get micro bus and
And I walked into the first computer store in the world, which was the
Byte Shop of a Mountain View, I think, on El Camino.
It metamorphosized within an adult bookstore a few years later, but at
this point, it was the Byte Shop.
And the person I ran into, I think his name was Paul Terrell.
He said “You know, I’ll take 50 of those”, I said “this is great”.
“But I want them fully assembled”
We never thought of this before, so we then kicked this around,
we thought “Why not? Why not try this?”
And so I spent the next several days on the phone talking with
electronic parts distributors,
we didn’t know what we were doing, and we said, “look, here is the parts
that we need”
We figured we’d buy a hundred sets of parts, build 50,
sell them to the Byte Shop for twice what they cost us to build them,
therefore paying for the whole hundred and then we have 50 left so we
could make our profits by selling those.
so we convince these distributors to give us the parts on net 30 days
We have no idea what that meant… “Net 30? sure… sign in here”, so
we have 30 days to pay them.
So we bought the parts, we built the products and we sold 50 of them to
the Byte Shop in Palo Alto,
and got paid in 29 days and went to pay
off the parts people in 30 days.
And so we were in business, but we have
the classic Marxian profit realization crisis,
the profit wasn’t in liquid currency,
our profit was in 50 computers sitting in the corner.
so then all of a sudden, we had to
think, wow, how we gonna realize our profit?
so we started thinking about
distribution, are there any other computer stores?
We started calling the other computer
stores we had heard of across the country. We just kind of eased into
business that way.
The third key figure in the creation of
Apple was the former Intel executive Mike Markkula
I ask Steve how he came aboard.
Steve: We were designing the Apple II.
And we really had some, some much higher
ambitions for the Apple II.
Woz’s ambitions were he wanted to add
My ambition was that,
it was very clear to me that while there
were a bunch of hardware hobbyists, they could assemble around the
or at least take our board, and add the
transformers for the power apply, the case, the keyboard, and go get,
and etc. You know, go get rest of the stuff.
For everyone of those, there were a
thousand of people, they couldn’t do that but wanted to mess around with
software hobbyists, just like I had
been, you know, when I was 10, discovering that computer.
And so my dream for the Apple II was to
sell the first real packaged computer, packaged personal
You didn’t have to be a hardware
hobbyist at all.
And so combining both of those dreams,
we actually designed a product.
And I found the designer and we designed
the packaging and everything.
And we wanted to make it out of plastic
and we had the whole thing ready to go.
But we needed some money for tooling the
cases and things like that. We needed a few thousand of dollars. And
this was way beyond our means.
So I went looking for some venture
And I ran across one venture capitalist
name Don Valentine, who came over to the garage
and he later said I look like a renegade
from the human race, that was his famous quote.
And he said he wasn’t willing to invest
us but he recommended a few people that might.
One of those was Mike Markkula.
So I called Mike on the phone and he
And Mike had retired at about 30 or 31
from the Intel,
he was a product manager there and got a
little bit stock.
And, you know, made like a million bucks
on stock options, which at that time was quite a lot of money.
And he’d been investing in oiling and
gas deals and kind of staying at home, doing that sort of thing.
And he, I think, was, was kind of antsy
to get back into something. And Mike and I hit it off very well.
And so Mike said, “OK, I’ll
after a few weeks and I said “No, we
don’t want your money , we want you.”
So we convince Mike to actually throw in
with us, as an equal partner.
And so Mike put in some money, and Mike
put in himself, and three of us went off.
We took this design, and it was
virtually done as an Apple II, and tooled it up, and announced
a few months later at the West Coast
Bob: What was that like?
Steve: It was great. We got the
you know this West Coast Computer Faire
was small at that time, but to us it was very large,
and, so we had this fantastic booth
there, err, we had a projection television showing the Apple II and
showing its graphics
which today look very crude but at that
time were by far the most advanced graphics on the personal
and I think, you know, my recollection
is that we stole the show,
and a lot of dealers and distributors
started lining up and we were off and running.
Bob: How old were you?
Bob: 21? you were 21 and you were a big
you have just sort of done it by the
seat of your pants. You don’t have any particular training on
How do you learn to run a
Steve: err… you know, throughout the
years in business, I found something,
which was I always ask why you do
and the answers you invariably get are
“oh that’s just the way it’s done”,
nobody knows why they do what they do,
nobody thinks about things very deeply in business, that’s what I found.
I’d like to give you an example.
When we were building our apple Is in
the garage, we knew exactly what they cost.
when we got into factory in the Apple II
days, the accounting had this notion of the standard cost,
where you kind of set a standard cost at
the end of a quarter, and you adjust with a variance,
and I kept asking why do we do
and the answer is “that’s just the way
and after about 6 months of digging into
this, what I realized was the reason you do it is because you don’t
really have good enough controls to know about how much cost,
so you guess, and you fix your guess at
the end of the quarter.
And the reason why you don’t know how
much it cost is because your information systems aren’t good
so …but nobody said it that
So later on when we design this
automated factory for Macintosh, we were able to get rid of a lot of
these antiquated concepts,
and know exactly what something costs to
So in business, a lot of things are … I
call it “folklore”,
they are done because they were done
yesterday, and the day before.
And …so what that means is that if you
are willing to sort of ask a lot of questions, think about things and
work really hard,
you can learn business pretty fast, not
the hardest thing in the world.
Bob : Not rocket science?
Steve: It’s not rocket science.
Bob: Now…when you were first coming in contact with these computers
and inventing them and before that working on the HP 9100, you do talk
about writing programs.
What sort of programs? What do people
actually do with these things?
A: See what we did with them, well, I
would give you a simple example …
when we were designing our blue-box we
used… we wrote a lot of custom programs to help us design it.
you know to do a lot of the dog work for
us in terms of calculating,
master frequencies with sub-devisors to
get the other frequencies and things like that…
we use computer quite a bit to calculate
how much error we would get in the frequencies, and how much can be
so we use them in the work, but much
more importantly, it does nothing to do with using them for anything
have to do with using them to be a
mirror of your thought process, to actually learn how to think.
I think the greatest value of learning
how to think….
I think everybody in this country should
learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer
because it teaches you how to think,
it’s like going to law school,
I don’t think anybody should be a
lawyer, but I think going to law school may actually be useful coz it
teaches you how to think in a certain way.
In the same way the computer programming
teaches you in a slightly different way how to think…
And so … I view computer science as a
It should be something everybody takes
in a year in their life, one of the courses they take is, you know
learning how to program.
Bob: I learned APL, you know, obviously,
is part of the reason why I’m going through life sideways.
Steve: Was it you look back and consider
it, enriching experience that taught you to think in a different way, or
Bob: Err… No, not that particularly.
Other language perhaps more so, I started with APL.
So I mean, obviously, the Apple II was a
terrific success, just incredibly so. And the company grew like topsy
and eventually went public
and you guys got really rich. What’s it
like to get rich?
Steve: It’s very interesting. I was
worth, err, about over a million dollars when I was 23,
and over 10 million dollars when I was
24, and over a hundred million dollars when I was 25.
And it wasn’t that important, Because I
never did it for the money.
I think money is wonderful thing because
it enables you to do things,
it enables you to invest ideas that
don’t have a short term payback and things like that.
But especially at that point in my life,
it was not the most important thing.
The most important thing was the
company, the people, the products we were making, what we were going to
enable people do with these products.
So I didn’t think about it a great deal
and I never sold any stock,
and just really believe the company
would do very well over the long term.
Central to the development of the
personal computers was the pioneering work
being done at Xerox Palo Alto Research
Center, which Steve first visited in 1979.
I had 3 or 4 people who kept bugging me
that I get my rear over the Xerox Park and see what they are
And so I finally did. I went over there,
and they were very kind and they showed me what they were working
And they showed me really three
but I was so blinded by the first one
that I didn’t ever really see the other two.
One of the things they show me was
object oriented programming, they show me that. But I didn’t even see
The other one they show me was really a
network computer system,
they had over hundred Alto computers all
networked using email, etc,
I didn’t even see that.
I was so blinded by the first thing they
showed me, which was graphically user interface.
I thought it was the best thing I had
ever seen in my life.
Now, remember, it was very flawed, when
we saw it, it was incomplete,
they had done bunch of things wrong, but
we didn‘t know that at that time,
it’s still though they have the germ of
the idea was there, and they had done it very well…
and within, you know, 10 minutes, it was
obvious to me that all computers would work like this someday, it was
I mean you can argue about how many
years it would take, and you can argue about who the winners and losers
but you couldn’t argue about the
inevitability it was so obvious,
you would have felt the same way had you
Bob: You know, that’s … those were
exactly words Paul Allen used. It’s really interesting.
Steve: Yeah, it’s obvious.
Bob: But there were two visits… you saw
and you brought some people back with you,
and what happened the next time, they
made you cool your heels for a while.
Bob: No? Well, Adele Goldberg says
Steve: what do you mean?
Bob: Well, she did the demo when the
group came back,
she said that she argued against doing
it for 3 hours,
and they took you to other places
showing you other things while she was arguing.
Steve: oh… you mean they were reluctant
to show us the demo.
oh, I have no idea. I don’t remember
that, I thought you meant something else.
Bob: so they were very skillful,
Steve: yeah, but they did show
and it’s good they showed us because the
technology crashed and burned at Xerox, they used to call …
Steve: what’s that?
Bob: Yeah, why?
Steve: I actually thought a lot about
and I learned more about that with John
Sculley later on and I think I understand that now pretty well,
What happens is, like with John Sculley,
John came from Pepsi co, and they almost
would change their product once every 10 years,
to them, new product is like a new size
so if you are a product person, you
couldn’t change the course of that company very much,
so who influences the success of Pepsi
The sales and marketing people,
therefore they would once get promoted and therefore they would once run
well, for Pepsi co, that might have been
But it turns out the same thing can
happen in technology companies, that they get monopolies, like, oh, IBM
If you are a product person at IBM or
Xerox, so you make a better copier or a better computer, so what?
When you have a monopolies market share,
the company is not any more successful,
so the people who can make the company
more successful are sales and marketing people.
And they end up running the companies,
and the product people get driven out of this decision making
And the companies forget what it means
to make great products. It… sort of the product sensibility,
and… the product genius brought them
to that monopolistic position gets rotted out by people running this
companies who have no conception of a good product versus a bad
they have no conception of craftsmanship
that’s required, … that take a good idea and turn it into a good
and they really have no feeling in their
hearts usually about wanting to really help the customers.
So that’s what happens in Xerox,
the people in Xerox PARC used to call
the people who runs the Xerox tonerheads,
and these tonerheads would come out to
the Xerox and PARC says they have no clue of what they are
Bob: For our audience, toner is
Steve: Toner is what you put in a
copier, you know the toner you add to an industrial copier?
Bob: The black stuff?
Steve: The black stuff, yeah.
Basically they were copier heads, just
have no clue about what a computer can do,
and so they just grabbed defeat from
greatest victory in the computer industry,
Xerox could have owned the entire
computer industry today, could have been company 10 times its
could have been IBM, Could have been IBM
in the 1990’s, …. could have been the Microsoft in the 1990’s. So
but anyway that’s all ancient history,
doesn’t really matter anymore.
You mentioned IBM, when IBM entered the
market, was that a daunting thing for you at apple?
Oh sure. I mean… here was apple, you
know a 1 billion dollar company,
and here was IBM, at that time, probably
about 30-some-odd-billion-dollar company entering the market,
sure. it was very scary.
Err… we made a very big mistake
though, that IBM’s first product was terrible. It was really bad.
We made a mistake of… not realizing that
a lot of other people have strong vested interests to help IBM to make
So …If it has just been IBM, it would
have crashed and burned.
But IBM did have I think a genius in
their approach, which was to have a lot of people have vested interests
in their success.
And that’s what saved them in the
Bob: So you came back from visiting
Xerox PARC with a vision, and how do you implement the vision?
Steve: Well, I got our best people
together and started to get them working on this,
the problem was we hired a bunch of
people from HP, and they didn’t get this idea, they didn’t get
I remember having dramatic arguments
with some of these people,
who thought the coolest thing in user
interface was the soft keys at the bottoms of the screen, you
They have no concept of proportionally
spaced fonts, no concept of the mouse.
As a matter of fact, I remember arguing
with these folks, people screaming at me,
it could take us 5 years to engineer a
mouse and it would cost 300 dollars to build.
I finally got fed up and just went
outside and found David Kelly design,
I asked him to design me a mouse in 90
days and we had a mouse that we can build for 15 bucks and that was
So I found that, in a way… Apple did
not have the caliber of people that was necessary to seize this idea in
There was a core team that did, but
there was a larger team that mostly had come from HP that didn’t have a
Bob: It becomes this issue of
professionalism, there’s dark side and light side? isn’t it?
Steve: No, you know what it is… No,
it’s not dark and light.
People get confused, companies get
when they started getting bigger, they
want to replicate their initial success,
and a lot of them think well somehow
there are some magic in the process, of how success is created…
so they started to try to
institutionalize process across the company.
And before very long, people get very
confused that the process is the content…
that’s ultimately the downfall of
IBM has the best process people in the
world, they just forgot about the content.
And that’s so what happened a little bit
at apple too, we had a lot of people who are great at management
they just didn’t have a clue as to the
and in my career, I found that the best
people you know are the ones who really understand the content,
and they are pain in the butt to manage,
you know but you put up with it because they are so great at the
and that’s what makes a great product,
it’s not process, it’s content.
So we had a little bit of that problem
And that problem eventually resulted in
which had its moment of brilliance, in a
way it was very far ahead at its time…
but that was not enough fundamental
content understanding. Apple drifted too far away from its roots.
To these HP guys, 10,000 dollars was
to our market, to our distribution
channels, 10,000 dollars was impossible.
So, we produced the product which
completely mismatch for the culture of our company,
for the image of our company, for the
distribution channels of our company,
for the current customers. None of them
could afford a product like that.
And it failed.
Bob: Like you and John Couch fought for
Steve: Absolutely, and I lost. That’s
Bob: How did they come about?
Steve: Well… I thought Lisa was in
and I thought Lisa was going off this
very bad direction as I have just described,
and err… I couldn’t convince enough
people and the senior management of Apple,
but that was the case…we ran the
places as team for most part.
So I lost, and at that point of time,
you know I brooded for a few months…
but it was not very long after that it
really occurred to me that if we didn’t do something here, the Apple II
was running out of gas,
and we needed to do something with this
technology fast, or else Apple might cease to exist as the company that
So I formed a small team to do the
and we were on a mission from God to
No one else thought so, but it turned
out we were right.
And as we evolved the Mac, it became
very clear that, this was also a way of re-inventing Apple.
We re-invented everything, we
I visited probably 80 automatic
factories in Japan,
and we built the world’s first automatic
computer factory in the world, in California here,
so we adopted the 68,000 Micro
Processors that Lisa had,
we negotiated the price that was 1/5 of
what Lisa was going to pay for, because we were using much higher
and we really started to design this
product that can be sold for a thousand dollars, called the
,and we didn’t make it. We could have
sold it at 2000 dollars, but we came out 2,500,
and we spent 4 years in our lives doing
that and we built the product,
we built the automatic factory, the
machine to build the machine,
we built a completely new distribution
system, and we built a completely different marketing approach,
and I think we worked pretty
Bob: Now, you motivated this team, I
mean you have to guide them…
Steve: We built the team.
Bob: You built the team, motivated,
guided them dealt with them.
We have interviewed just lots and lots
of people from the Macintosh team,
and you know what keeps coming down to
is your passion, and your vision,
how do you order your priorities in
there? What’s important to you in the development of a product?
Steve: You know… one of the things
that really hurt Apple was after I left,
John Sculley got a very serious
“disease”, and that “disease”, I have seen other people get it
it’s the “disease” of thinking that a
really great idea is 90% of the work,
and if you just tell all these other
people, “here is this great idea!”, then of course they can go off and
make it happen.
And the problem with that is that there
is just tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a
And as you evolve the great idea, it
changes and grows, it never comes out like it starts.
Because you learn a lot more, you get
into the subtleties,
you also find … There’s tremendous
trade-offs that you have to make,
I mean you know there are just certain
things you can’t make electrons do,
there are certain things you can’t make
plastic do, or glass do,
and… or factories do, robots
and you get into all these things,
designing a product is keeping 5000 things in your brain.
These concepts, and fitting them all
together in… and kind of continuing to push and fit them together and
in new and in different ways to get what you want.
And everyday you discover something new
that is new problem or new opportunity to fit these things together a
It’s that process that is the
So we had a lot of great ideas when we
but what I always felt that a team of
people doing something that’s really believe in is like …
When I was a young kid, there was a
widowed man lived up the street.
And he was in his eighties, he was a
little scary looking,
and I got to know him a little bit… I
think he might pay me for cutting mow his lawn or something …
One day he said “come along to my
garage, I want to show you something.”
And he pulled out his dusty old rock
that was a motor and a coffee can and a
little band between them,
and he said “come out with me”, we went
out to the back, and we got some just rocks, some regular old ugly
and we put them in the can with a little
bit of liquid and a little bit of grits powder,
and we closed the can up and he turned
this motor on, and he said, “come back tomorrow”.
And this can was making racket as the
stones went around, and I came back the next day,
and we opened the can, and we took out
these amazingly beautiful polished rocks, err…
the same common stones had gone in
through rubbing against each other like this,
creating a little bit of friction,
creating a little bit of noise, had come out these beautiful polished
And that’s always been in my mind that,
my metaphor for a team working really hard on something they’re
It’s that through the team, through that
group of incredibly talented people bumping up against each
having arguments, having fights
sometimes, making some noise, and working together they polish each
and they polish the ideas, and what
comes out are these really beautiful stones.
So it’s hard to explain, and it’s
certainly not the result of one person,
I mean people like symbols, so I am the
symbol of certain things
but it’s really the team effort on the
Now, in my life I observed something
fairly early on at Apple,
which … I didn’t know how to explain it
then, I felt a lot about since.
Most things in life, the dynamic range
between average and the best, is at most 2 to 1,
Like you are in New York city, you get
an average Taxi cab driver versus the best Taxi cab driver,
you know you would probably get to your
destination with the best cab maybe 30% faster, you know in
What’s the difference between an average
and the best? Maybe, I don’t know 20%?
the best CD player and an average CD
player, I don’t know, 20%?
2 to 1 is a big ..big dynamic range in
In software, and it used to be the case
with hardware too,
the difference between average and the
best is 50 to 1, maybe a 100 to 1, Okay?
very few things in life are like
But what I was lucky enough to spend my
life in, is like this,
and so I built lots of my success of
finding these truly gifted people, and not settling for B and C players,
really going for A players.
And I found something, I found when you
get enough A players together, when you go through the incredible work
to find you know 5 of these A players,
they really like working with each
other, because they never had a chance to do that before,
and they don’t want to work with B and C
players, so they become self-policing, they only want to hire more A
So you built up these pockets of A
players and it propagates,
and that’s what the Mac team was like,
they were all A players, and these were extraordinarily talented
Bob: But there were also people who now
say that they don’t have the energy any more to work for you.
Steve: Huh, sure.
I think if you talk to a lot of people
on the Mac team, they would tell you it was the hardest they have ever
worked in their lives,
some of them would tell you it was their
happiest they ever had in their lives,
but all of them would tell you that it
certainly is one of the most intense and cherished experiences they
would ever have in their lives.
Bob: Yeah, they did.
Steve: So…err… you know, it’s a …
some of those things are not sustainable for some people.
Bob: What does it mean when you tell
someone their work is a shit?
Steve: I … it usually means their work
is a shit,
sometimes it means I think your work is
a shit, and I am wrong.
hehe, but .. it usually means that their
work is not anywhere near good enough.
Bob: I have this great quote from Bill
Atkinson, who says “when you say someone’s work is a shit, you really
mean…. I don’t quite understand it, would you please explain it to
Steve: Haha, no, that’s not usually what
I… you know, when you get really good
people, they know they are really good, and you don’t have to baby
people’s ego so much,
and what really matters is the work,
that everybody knows that and that all that matters is the work,
so people are being counted on to do
specific pieces of little puzzle,
and the most important thing I think you
can do for somebody who’s really good, and who’s really being counted on
is to point out to them when their work isn’t good enough,
and to do it very clearly and to
articulate why, and to get them back on track.
And you need to do it in a way that
doesn’t call into question your confidence in their abilities,
but… leaves not too much room for
interpretation that the work they have done for the particular thing is
not good enough… to support the goal of the team.
And that’s a hard thing to do. Err… I
always take a very direct approach,
so I think if you talk to people who
worked with me, err… the really good people have found it beneficial,
some people hated it you know,
but … I am also one of these people, I
don’t really care about being right, I just care about success.
So you will find a lot of people that
would tell you that I had a very strong opinion,
and they present evidence in contrary
and 5 minutes later I can change my mind,
because I’m like that, I don’t mind
and I admit that I am wrong a lot,
doesn’t really matter to me too much.
What matters to me is that we do the
So how and why did Apple get into
desktop publishing, which will become Mac’s killer-app?
Steve: I don’t know if you know this,
but we got the first Canon laser printer engine shipped in US at
and we had it hooked up to a Lisa
actually imaging pages before anybody, long before HP, long before
But I heard few times people tell me
“hey there’s these guys over the garage in Xerox PARC… let’s go and
see them” …
and I finally went and saw them, I saw
what they were doing, and it was better than what we were doing,
They were gonna be a hardware company
they wanted to make printer and the whole thing,
so I talked them into being a software
and within 2 or 3 weeks, we had
cancelled our internal project,
a bunch of people wanted to kill me over
this. But, we did it.
And I had cut a deal with Adobe to use
their Software, and we bought 19.9% of Adobe at Apple, they needed
financing and we want a little bit control,
we were off to the races so we got the
engine from Canon, and we designed the first laser printer controller at
we got the software from Adobe, we
introduced the laser writer.
No one at the company wanted to do it,
but a few of us in the Mac group,
everybody thought a 7000-dollar printer
what they didn’t understand was that you
can share it with Apple Talk,
I mean they understood intellectually,
but they don’t understand viscerally .
because the last really expensive thing
we tried to sell was Lisa.
so we pushed this thing through, and I
had to basically do it through over a few “dead bodies”,
and we pushed this thing through and it
was the first laser printer on the market as you know, and the rest is
When I left Apple, Apple was the largest
printer company, measure by revenue in the world.
It lost that distinction to HP about 3
or 4 years after I left, unfortunately, but when I left it was the
largest printer company in the world.
Bob: Did you envision desktop
publishing, was that a no-brainer?
Steve: You know… yes,
but we also envisioned really the
and so in January, 1995 when we had our
annual meeting and introduced our new products, I made probably the
largest marketing blunder of my career,
Steve: 1985, sorry.
Made probably the largest marketing
blunder in my career by announcing the Macintosh Office instead of just
and we had desktop publishing as a major
component of that, but we announced a bunch of other stuff as well, and
I think we should just focus on desktop publishing at that time.
After series of disagreements with
Apple’s CEO, John Sculley, Steve left the company in 1985.
Bob: Tell us your departure from
Steve: Oh it was very painful and I am
not even sure if I want to talk about it.
What can I say? I hired the wrong
Bob: That was Sculley?
Steve: Yeah, and he destroyed everything
I spent 10 years working for.
Starting with me, but that wasn’t the
I would have gladly left Apple if Apple
had turned out like I wanted it to.
He basically got on a rocket ship that
is about to leave the pad, and the rocket ship left the pad,
and he kind of went into his head, and
he got confused and thought he built the rocket ship,
and he kind of changed the trajectory,
so that it’s inevitably gonna crash to the ground,
Bob: But there was always … in
Pre-Macintosh days and early Macintosh days, there was always Steven and
you two were kinda joined at the hip for
a while there.
Steve: That’s right.
Bob: And then something happened to
split you, what was that, what was that catalyst?
Steve: Well, what happened was … that
the industry went into a recession in late 1984, sales started seriously
and John didn’t know what to do, and he
had not a clue.
And there was a leadership vacuum at the
top of Apple.
There were fairly strong general
managers running the divisions,
and I was running the Macintosh
division, somebody else was running the Apple II division etc,
there were some problems with some of
the divisions, and there was a person running the storage division that
was completely out of lunch,
a bunch of things needed to be
But all those problems got put into a
pressure cooker, because of this contraction in the market place,
and there was no leadership,
and John was in a situation where the
board was not happy, and where he was probably not long for the
And one thing I did not ever see about
John, until that time was, he had incredible survival instinct,
someone once told me “this guy didn’t
get to be the this you know president of Pepsi co without these kind of
instincts”, and it was true.
And John decided that a really good
person to be the root of all the problems would be me. And so we came to
and John had cultivated a very close
relationship with the board, and they believed him, so that’s what
Bob: So there were competing visions for
Steve: Oh clearly … well… not so much
competing visions for the company. Because I don’t think John had a
vision for the company.
Bob: Well, I guess I’m asking was what
was your vision at that time, lost out in instance?
Steve: It wasn’t an issue of vision, it
was an issue of execution.
In a sense that my belief was that Apple
needed much stronger leadership to sort of unite these various factions
that we created with divisions
that Macintosh was the future of Apple,
that we needed to reinback expenses dramatically in the Apple II
that we needed to be spending very
heavily in the Macintosh area, err… things like that.
John’s vision was that he should remain
the CEO of the company, and anything that would help him do that would
So you know I think that… you know Apple
is in a state of paralysis in the early part of 1985,
and I wasn’t at that time capable… of
running the company as a whole. You know I was 30 years old
and I don’t think I had enough
experiences to run a 2 billion dollar company,
unfortunately John didn’t either.
And so anyway… I … I was told in no
uncertain terms that there’s no job for me, it’s really tragic.
Steve: Yeah, It would have been far more
smarter for Apple to sort of let me work on the next…
I volunteered why not I start research
you know give me a few millions bucks a
year and I would go hire some really great people and we would do the
next great thing.
And I was told there is no opportunity
to do that.
Bob: Oh well.
Steve: So my office was taken away, it
was it was… I mean I will get really emotional if I keep talking about
so anyway … but that’s irrelevant, I am
just one person and the company is a lot more people than me, that’s not
the most important part,
the important part was the values of
Apple over the next several years were systematically destroyed.
I then asked Steve for his thoughts on
the state of Apple.
Remember this was 1995, a year before he
would go back to Apple.
Remember too when Apple bought NeXT a
year after this interview, Steve immediately sold the Apple stock he
received as part of the sale.
Steve: Apple is dying today, Apple is
dying a very painful death, it’s on a glide slope too, to die!
And the reason is because …
you know when I walked out the door of
Apple, we had 10 years lead on everybody else in the industry, Macintosh
was 10 years ahead.
We watched Microsoft take 10 years to
catch up with it.
Well, the reason that they could catch
up with it was because Apple stood still,
I mean the Macintosh shipping today is
like 25% different than the day I left!
They spent hundreds of millions of
dollars a year on R&D, you know total of probably 5 billion dollars on
what did they get for? I don’t
But it was… what happened was the
…understanding of how to move these things forward, and how to create
these new products, somehow evaporated,
and I think a lot of good people stuck
around for a while, but there wasn’t an opportunity to get together and
because there wasn’t any leadership to
so what happens with Apple now is that
they had fallen behind in many aspects certainly in market share,
and most importantly their
differentiation has been eroded by Microsoft,
and so what they have now is that they
have their installed base, which is not growing, which is shrinking
but would provide a good revenue stream
for several years, but it’s a glide slope, it’s just gonna go like
So it’s unfortunate and I don’t really
think it’s reversible at this point of time.
Bob: Neither do I. What about Microsoft?
I mean that’s the juggernaut now, and it’s kind of Ford-LTD going into
it’s definitely not Cadillac, it’s not
BMW it’s just … you know … what’s going on there, how did these guys do
Steve: Microsoft’s orbit was made
possible by a Saturn 5 booster called IBM.
And I know Bill would get upset with me
for saying this, but of course it was true.
And much to Bill and Microsoft’s credit
they used that fantastic opportunity to create more opportunities for
Most people don’t remember but until
1984 with the Mac, Microsoft was not in the application business,
which dominated by Lotus.
And Microsoft took a big gamble, to
write for the Mac.
And they came out with applications that
But they kept at it and make them
better. And eventually, they dominated the Macintosh application
and then used the spring board of
Windows to get into the PC market with the same applications.
And now they dominated the application
business in the PC space too.
So they have 2 characteristics. I think
they are very strong opportunists. And I don’t mean that in a bad
And two, they are like the Japanese.
They just keep on coming.
And now, they were able to do that
because of the revenue stream from the IBM deal.
But nonetheless they made the most of it
and I gave them a lot of credit for that.
The only problem with Microsoft is they
just have no taste.
They have absolutely no taste, and what
that means is… I don’t mean that in a small way, I meant that in a big
way in the sense
that they don’t think of original ideas,
and they don’t bring much culture into their products.
And you say why is that
well, proportionally spaced fonts come
from typesetting and beautiful books. That’s where one gets the
If it weren’t for the Mac, they would
have never had that in their products.
And, so I guess, I’m saddened not by
Microsoft’s success. I have no problem with their success.
They’ve earned their success, for the
I have the problem with the fact that
they just make really third-rate products.
Their products have no spirit to them.
Their products have no… sort of spirit of enlightenment about them.
They are very pedestrian.
And the sad part is that most customers
don’t have a lot of that spirit either.
But the way we are going to ratchet it
up… our species, is to take the best, and to spread it around to
so that everyone grows up with better
things, and start to understand the subtleties of these better
And Microsoft is just… McDonalds. And
that’s what saddens me.
Not that Microsoft has won, but that
Microsoft products don’t displayed more insight and more
Bob: So what are you doing about it?
Tell us about NeXT.
Steve: Well, I am not doing anything
Steve: Because NeXT is too small a
company to do anything about that, I am just watching it, and there’s
really nothing I can do about it.
Next we talked about NeXT, the company
Steve was running in 1995, which Apple was soon to buy.
NeXT software would become the heart of
Mac in the form of OS10.
Steve: You don’t really want to hear
about NeXT, do you?
Bob: Yes, I do.
Steve: You do? Okay,
well… maybe the best things since we
don’t have much time, is I just tell you what NeXT is today in the
There hasn’t been … clearly the
innovation of computer industry is happening in software right
and there hasn’t been a revolution in
how we create software in a long… (sneeze)
Sorry. The innovation in the industry is
in software, and there hasn’t ever been a real revolution how we created
software, certainly not in the last 20 years .
As a matter of fact, it’s gotten
While the Macintosh was a revolution for
the end users to make it easier to use, it was the opposite for the
the developer pays the price, and the
software got more complicated to write, as it became easier to use for
the end user,
so software is infiltratingeverything we
do these days, in businesses software is one of the most important
potent competitive weapons,
I mean the most successful business war
was MCI friends and family in the last 10 years,
and what was that? It was a brilliant
idea it was custom-billing software,
AT&T didn’t respond for 18 months
yielding millions of dollars for the market share to MCI,
not because they are stupid, but because
they couldn’t get the billing software done.
So in ways like that, in smaller ways,
software is becoming an incredible force in this world,
to provide new goods and services to
people whether it’s over the Internet or what have you, software is
going to be a major enabler in our society.
We have taken another…one of those
brilliant original ideas from Xerox PARC
that I saw in 1979, but didn’t see
really clearly then,
called object oriented
and we have perfected it and
commercialized it, here and become the biggest supplier of it to the
and this object technology let you build
software 10 times faster, and it’s better.
So that’s what we do, and we got a small
to medium sized business, and we’re the largest supplier of
you know we were 50 to 75 million dollar
company, got about 300 people, and that’s what we do.
Bob: And the end of the 3rd show,
actually is one moment that we do look into the future, because channel
4 has asked us to do that,
so what’s your vision of 10 years from
now, with this technology that you are developing?
Steve: You know I think the internet and
there are two exciting things happening
in software and in computing,
one is objects, and the other is the
the web is incredibly exciting because
it is the fulfillment a lot of our dreams,
that the computer would ultimately not
be primarily a device for computation but metamorphosis into a device
for communication, and with the web that’s finally happening,
Secondly it’s exciting because the
Microsoft doesn’t know it, and therefore it’s tremendous amount of
so I think the web is going to be
profound in what it does to our society,
as you know 15% of the goods and
services in the US were sold by catalog over TV,
all that would go on the web and more,
billions and billions …
soon tens of billions of dollars of
goods and services are going to be sold on the web.
A way to think about it is ultimately
direct-to-customer distribution channel,
and another way to think about it is the
smallest company in the world can look as large as the largest company
in the world on the web,
so I guess… I think the web, as we
look back 10 years back now,
the web is going to be the defining
technology the defining social moment for computing,
I think it’s going to be huge and I
think it’s breathed a whole new generation of life into personal
computing, I think it’s going to be huge.
Bob: And you are making software that
Steve: Of course, so is everybody, I
mean forget about what we are doing, as an industry, the web is going to
open a whole new door to this industry.
Bob: It’s another one of those things
that it’s obvious once it happens, but 5 years ago, who would have
Steve: That’s right. Isn’t this a
wonderful place we live in.
I was keen to know about Steve’s
what drove him?
Steve: I read an article when I was very
young, in the Scientific American,
and it measures the efficiency of
locomotion for various species on the planet,
so for you know for bear, Chimpanzee,
raccoons and birds, and fish,
how many kilocalories per kilometer did
they spend to move, and humans was measured too,
the condor won, it was the most
and the mankind, the crown of creation,
came in with rather unimpressive showing about a 3rd of the way down the
but somebody there had the brilliance to
test a human riding a bicycle,
blew away the condor, all the way off
and I remember this really had an impact
I really remember this – humans were
tool builders, and we build tools that can dramatically amplify our
innate human abilities.
to me, we actually ran an ad line like
this very early at Apple, that the personal computer was the bicycle of
and I believe that with every bone in my
body, that of all the inventions of humans,
the computer is going to rank near, if
not at the top, as history unfolds if we look back, and it is the most
awesome tool that we ever invented,
and I feel incredibly lucky to be at
exactly the right place in silicon valley, at exactly the right time,
historically where this invention has taken form.
As you know when you set vector off in
if you can change direction a little bit
at the beginning, it’s dramatic when it gets few miles on space,
and I feel we are still really at the
beginning of that vector, and if we can nudge it into right directions,
it would be a much better thing as it progresses on.
And I look, you know we had the chance
to do that a few times, and it brings all of us associated with
Bob: And how do you know what’s the
Steve: You know ultimately it comes down
to taste, it comes down to taste,
it comes down to trying to expose
yourself to the best things that humans have done,
and try to bring these things in to what
you are doing.
Picasso had a saying “good artists copy,
great artists steal“,
we have always been shameless about
stealing great ideas,
and I think part of what made the
Macintosh great was that people working on it were musicians
and poets and artists, and zoologists
who also happened to be the best
computer scientists in the world.
But if it hadn’t been for computer
science, these people would have all been doing amazing things in other
and they all brought with them, we all
brought to this effort a very liberal arts sort of air,
a very liberal arts attitude that we
want to pull in the best that we saw in other fields into this
and I don’t think you’ll get that if you
are very narrow.
One of the questions I asked everyone in
the series was are you a hippie or a nerd?
Steve: Oh if I had to pick one out of
these two, I am clearly the hippie,
all the people I work with were clearly
in that category too,
Bob: Why? You seek out hippies? They are
attracted to you?
Steve: Well, ask yourself what’s
I mean this word has a lot of
connotations, but to me,
remember the 60’s happens in the early
70’s, we have to remember that, that’s sort when I came of age, so I saw
a lot of these,
and a lot of things happened in our
So to me the spark of that was
there was something beyond, sort of what
you see everyday,
there are something going on here in
life beyond just a job, a family, 2 cars in the garage and a
there’s something more going on, there’s
another side of the coin,
that we don’t talk about much
and we experience when there are gaps,
when we kind of aren’t…
when everything is not ordered or
perfect and when there’s a kind of gap, you experience this inrush of
and a lot of people have set off
throughout history to find out what that was,
you know whether it’s Thoreau or the
Indian mystics, whatever it might be,
and the hippie movement got a little bit
like that, they want to find out what that was about,
and life wasn’t about what they saw
their parents doing,
and of course the pendulum swung too far
the other way, that was too crazy.
but there was a germ of something
and it’s the same thing that causes
people to want to be poets instead of bankers,
and I think that’s a wonderful
And I think that same spirit can be put
, and these products can be manufactured
and given to people, they can sense that spirit,
if you talk to the people who use the
Macintosh, they love it,
you don’t hear people loving products
very often, you know, really,
but you can feel it in there, there were
something really wonderful there,
So I don’t think that most of those
really best people that I had worked with, had worked with computers for
the sake of working with computers,
they work with computers because they
are the medium that is best capable of transmitting some feelings that
you want to share with other people,
does that make any sense to you?
Bob: Oh yeah.
Steve: And before they invented these
things all of these people would have done other things,
but computers were invented and they did
come along, all these people did get interested in school or before
and say “hey this is the medium that I
think I can really say something in”
In 1996, a year after this interview, Steve Jobs sold NeXT to Apple.
He then took control of his old company
at a time when it was 90 days from bankruptcy,
What followed was a corporate
renaissance unparalleled in American business history,
with innovative products like iMac,
iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad and Apple Stores, Jobs turned an almost
bankrupt Apple into the most valuable company in America.
As he said in this interview, he took
the best and spread it around “so that everybody grows up with better
Steve Jobs 1955-2011