A Review and Walk-Through of ‘Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview’

Note: This post contains spoilers. Hence, the page break on the homepage of the site. — SH

I just finished watching Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview.

While (like Marco), I can’t shake the feeling that the whole thing is a money-grab, after watching it, I’m happy I dropped the $4 to rent the hour long video.

Here are some thoughts, written up as I watched the interview.

The Early Days

In the video, Jobs talks at length about his early days with technology, including seeing his first mainframe at 10, landing a job at HP at the age of 12, his friendship with Woz and blue boxes.

Moving on from there, Jobs discusses the “artwork” of the printed circuit board in the Apple I and how it launched he and Woz from building computers for their friends to building them for resale.

After the Apple I, Jobs says he realized that there were many more people interested in software and programming than in hardware, and pushed the Apple II on to the market as a all-in-one, pre-built computer.

In hearing him talk about it in the mid–1990s, it’s clear Jobs was still very proud of the Apple II’s capabilities, case and graphics.

Jobs claimed that running the business wasn’t “rocket science,” but admitted in the early days he was flying by the seat of his pants. That said, he was clearly more interested in the intersection of “art and science,” just as Apple is today.

In 1979, Jobs and other Apple employees visited Xerox PARC, and saw object-oriented programming, networked computer workstations and the graphical user interface. On video, Jobs almost trips over himself explaining his excitement over the GUI.

Jobs argues that when marketing people run a company (like at Xerox), things go wrong. “They could have been IBM. They could have been the Microsoft of the 90s,” he said.

The Macintosh

Upon returning from Xerox, Jobs says he became very frustrated with Apple’s staff (mostly the people from HP) not being able to grasp his vision of the future of computing.

“People get confused,” he said. “Companies get confused.” This confusion, Jobs claimed, led to the Lisa. Clocking in at $10,000, this machine was “impossible” to match with Apple’s customers, culture and partners.

As Lisa was failing (after Jobs lost a big to take it over), Jobs realized the Apple II was “running out of gas.”

To save Apple (a “mission from God,” he said), Jobs took a small team to design a new product that could be sold for $1,000. While the machine ended up costing $2,500, the pride in Jobs voice in describing the machine, its factory, marketing and more is hard to ignore.

However, Jobs is quick to point out that the Macintosh was a team effort, and that the software is what set the Macintosh apart.

Jobs doesn’t shy away from the criticism that most people on the Mac team didn’t want to work for him again. “Some things aren’t sustainable.”

On Shitty Work

About halfway through the video, Cringely asks Jobs “What does it mean when you say ‘Your work is shit?’”

Be sure to watch for it. “I don’t care about being right,” Jobs said, “I care about success.”

On Desktop Publishing

Apple had one of the first Canon printers working with the Lisa. But a deal with Adobe allowed Apple to issue the first LaserWriter printer. Jobs believed that products like this is what made Apple the standard when it came to desktop publishing in the 1980s and 1990s.

Jobs said that while he envisioned desktop publishing being a major component of the Macintosh Office, Apple could have been more clear in its intentions.

On John Sculley

It is this interview in which Steve Jobs famously said “I hired the wrong guy,” in terms of John Sculley, Apple’s CEO.

The quote finishes: “He destroyed everything I spent 10 years working for.”


Sculley developed a disease, according to Jobs, that “a great idea is 90% of the work.” Jobs argued that Sculley (and Apple, on the whole, without Jobs) couldn’t execute, and as a result, Apple began to falter.

Jobs said that the recession in the mid 1980s put Apple in a pressure cooker that Sculley wasn’t able to handle. With an unhappy Board of Directors, Sculley dug in, and Jobs was ousted.

In the interview, Jobs concedes that he wasn’t ready to run Apple at the time, but is quick to point out that he didn’t think Sculley was ready, either.

The State of Apple in 1995

This interview took place one year before Apple bought NeXT, bringing Jobs back in to the fold. At the time, Apple was dying. Jobs blamed a lack of a productive Research & Development group to keep the company ahead of Microsoft, whose Windows 95 took off like wildfire, eating Apple’s marketshare alive.

On Microsoft

Microsoft, according to Jobs, ended up on top thanks to IBM. While the company had dominated the Mac software space after wrestling it away from Lotus before making the jump to Windows.

“My biggest problem with Microsoft is that they have no taste. I don’t mean that in a small way; I mean that in a big way.”

Jobs said that Microsoft’s success didn’t bother him, but that this did:

“They don’t bring much culture into their products.”


While NeXT, Jobs said, was too small to affect the course of the computer industry (mainly Microsoft). While this interview took place one year before the NeXT/Apple merger, NeXT was already shipping just software — their hardware business was dead.

According to this interview, NeXT was about revolutionizing software and how it is built. “Software is becoming an incredible force in this world. It’s going to be a major enabler in our society.”

NeXT’s whole system was built on object-oriented programming, which Jobs saw back at Xerox PARC in 1979.

The Future

The Internet allowed computers to become tools for communication, and Jobs was excited that Microsoft didn’t own it. He foresaw the explosion in online purchasing, social media and more.

It’s chilling to hear how right he was.

Jobs closed with his famous “bicycle for the mind” story. It’s one of my favorites. “Humans are tool-builders,” he said. Making good tools — the right tools — all came down to taste in Steve Jobs’ mind.

In Conclusion

Being a hardcore Apple nerd, there wasn’t a ton revealed in the interview that I hadn’t heard before. That said, the video is well worth the watch. Hearing Jobs talk about things that he refused to later in his life really is enjoyable. Hearing him size up the future is even more so.