A few Steve Jobs videos worth watching

I’ve been tweeting instead of blogging for the past three months and it’s time for this to end. Let me start with a number of videos you may or may not have seen featuring Steve Jobs.

Macworld 1997

The first of these videos is the keynote of Macworld 1997. Now remember, Steve Jobs came back to Apple in December 1996 as an “informal advisor” to the then-CEO Gil Amelio. He only became CEO in July of that year, after the disappointing results of Q2’97 were revealed — a loss of over $50 million — and Amelio’s failure became evident. Macworld, which took place in January 1997, was Steve Jobs’s first public appearance in his new role, back at Apple after the purchase of NeXT. His speech is short, but it’s focused and makes it clear that he has a vision for the company.

However, the rest of the show is very enlightening as a picture of how bad a state Apple was in back in 1997. Amelio is the anti-Steve Jobs: absolutely no charisma, complete and utter lack of professionalism, and of course zero vision. The “big reveal” at the end where the 20th Anniversary Macintosh (designed by Jony Ive who was already a designer at Apple, it is a misconception that Steve Jobs hired him) is unveiled, is so pathetic it’s not funny. Such amateurism is not imaginable in the Apple 2.0 era under Steve Jobs.

At the end of the keynote, Amelio tried to do a PR trick by having Steve Wozniak show up. He wanted Woz and Jobs to pose with him to symbolize the regained trust in Apple. Unwilling to show support to Amelio, Jobs stayed away from him and Woz, so the photo opportunity was lost. Amelio complained about it in his autobiography On The Firing Line.

Here is an embedded version of the video. I also put it on the website, in the keynote section:

If your time is limited, I suggest you watch Steve Jobs’s speech @7:00 and the failed introduction of the 20th Anniversary Mac, which quickly follows Woz’s onstage appearance @38:50 (the moment when Amelio tries to get them together for a picture is around 43:30).

Steve Jobs in Sweden in 1985

A rarer video that you may have missed is one of Steve Jobs in 1985, flying to Sweden for a speech at Lund University:

The video starts by his arrival by helicopter, in then-traditional blue jeans and white shirt. After a strange performance by singers, Steve Jobs starts his (perhaps unprepared) speech by a joke about them, then goes on to talk about his vision of the computer as “a new medium” delivering not text nor movies but software. He goes on to say that in the future, computers should be able to completely absorb the mind of “the next Aristotle” so that you could ask him a question, using a computer — something books do not allow. Jobs ends his speech by talking about the tough economic period the PC industry was going through back then, and says it is only a delay of the inevitable revolution brought about by PCs. His good joke to illustrate his point is “I’m sure Henry Ford had a few bad quarters back in the 1920s”. 

Jobs then says the next step in his trip is to go to the Soviet Union to try and sell them Macintoshes. This is an indication that the video was shot only weeks before his departure from Apple. If you watch the video entirely, you will see the university dean making a joke about Steve’s arrival by helicopter, then explaining why computers are great tools for the mind (a metaphor Steve Jobs was certainly familiar with).

The Mac 1944 Promo video

This video was talked about a lot in the news lately. It is an “in-house” commercial (because it was never aired) from the Mac team making a parallel between 1944 and 1984. Just like the US Army liberated Europe in 1944, the Macintosh would free the desktop workers from the tyranny of the IBM PC. Steve Jobs plays the part of FDR, in a rather unimpressive performance.

The video wasn’t news to me. I had seen clips from it before, and the Steve Jobs clip was partially shown in his 30th birthday video which was made public after his passing. I believe that many news sites have noticed that mentioning Steve Jobs increased their pageviews, and took every possible occasion to do it. The only interesting (and new) thing that this news coverage has brought is an article by Michael Markman, the advertiser behind the video. He explains how the original idea was to use Charlie Chaplin’s character of Adenoid Hynkel (in The Great Director) as a metaphor for both Hitler and IBM, since Big Blue used Chaplin in its PC commercials. The money quote is

Glenn, Mike, and I marched into Steve’s office to give him the pitch. Pretty much the way I outlined it in the previous paragraph. Steve’s eyes were sparkling through it all. By the time I got to, “and you as FDR,” I had made the sale. In the binary universe of Steve Jobs, something is either a zero or a one. This was a one.

The All Things D videos

Finally, in the wake of this year’s All Things Digital conference, The Wall Street Journal has released HQ videos of all of Steve Jobs’s appearances at the yearly tech gathering as downloads on iTunes.

These videos aren’t new — in fact, they have been on this site for months. However they are revealing of what impact Steve Jobs had on this conference, and how profoundly his absence can be felt now. In fact, this is exactly the topic of Steven Levy’s great article on Wired: All Things D Is Haunted by the Man Who Isn’t Here. Levy, one of the conference’s privileged attendees, describes how the the ghost of Steve is haunting it this year. I love his ending anecdote told by Larry Ellison:

My favorite story is Ellison’s, about how he accompanied Jobs frequently to the prototype Apple store in a nearby warehouse, set up so Jobs and his team could constantly tweak the experience to approach perfection. Ellison noted how contrarian the effort seemed. “Don’t you read the newspaper?” he would ask Jobs. “They’re saying bricks and mortar are dead.”

“We’re not using mortar,” Jobs replied. “We’re using glass and steel.”

Steve’s mark on All Things D, the only context in which he would openly discuss his views on the industry publicly, is no coincidence. It is a reflection of Steve’s “special relationship” with Walt Mossberg, dating back to the late 1990s. Mossberg was an early supporter of Steve’s comeback at Apple and his efforts such as the original iMac. That relationship is discussed in the Walter Isaacson bio, and it has since been confirmed by Mossberg himself, who wrote a touching piece on his favorite shared moments with iLeader. As for me, I cannot help but think of this post by Fake Steve Jobs back in the days when Dan Lyons was funny and anonymous. His jealousy for Mossberg can be felt in his narrative, but the piece is so funny that it is excusable.

 

Happy birthday!

As many of you probably know, Steve Jobs was born on February 24. He would have turned 57 today.

What you may not know, and shame on you for that, is that, coincidentally, I —perhaps the greatest Jobs-fanboy that ever lived— was also born on that day, some 32 years later. And, less coincidentally, I launched the first iteration of this website on my 19th birthday (Steve’s 51st, follow please!), on 24 February 2006.

I had set a deadline for myself to launch the new all about Steve Jobs.com no later than today, its 6th birthday. I’m glad I could meet it.

We’ve come a long way, baby!

The new ‘all about Steve Jobs.com’ is out

After five months of inactivity, this blog is coming back in a big way with the new version of all about Steve Jobs.com. I have been working on this new site since Steve Jobs’s resignation in late August 2011, exactly six months ago. This sad event, which seemed to close Steve’s career, made me think already then that the website would need to start a different life, more that of an extensive museum than that of a chronicle. Of course the tragic news of Steve’s death only reinforced this conviction.

I have been working like crazy since then, redesigning the website from scratch —while keeping up with all the new Jobs-related content that sprung up in the months after his passing. Those of you with web development skills would be shocked to learn how much hand-coding there was in the past version of all about Steve Jobs.com. This has changed a lot, and although I do not have a full-blown CMS yet, the creation, publishing and updating of content should be much faster now.

But let’s talk about the new content. The biggest change all of you will notice is the presence of Google AdSense ads. Believe me, I am the guy who wants them out the most —but the truth of the matter is, I don’t have the choice to do without them. Since Steve’s resignation, then death, traffic on the website has gone up by a factor of five (that’s +400%), and my hosting simply could not keep up. I had to upgrade to a more reliable host, which of course was more costly. AdSense is the only monetization service that can provide me the resources for this. I wish I could join a quality (read: with less intrusive ads) affiliate network but I do not have a large enough audience for that. Still, there are only two banners per page and I think this is a fair enough trade-off for the great content I added to the site.

Indeed, to compensate for the addition of ad banners, I worked very hard to provide you with great new content dedicated to Steve Jobs. From the start, my goal with all about Steve Jobs.com has been to gather as much information and media content about Steve as possible — as the name of the website is a clear indication of… and this new update brings me closer to that goal. You can now find:

The work is not completely finished. I will keep adding more videos (esp. the ‘Best Moments’ section), more anecdotes and quotes… and I hope to release in the coming month an updated long biography taking into account all the information that the Walter Isaacson biography provided. What’s more, I am planning to release the long bio in the iBooks format, thanks to Apple’s iBooks Author software, and make it available for free on the website.

I hope you enjoy the new website — do not hesitate to comment on the new design and content, here or on Twitter.

Thanks everyone for your support and kind words!
Romain

Status report

Three weeks have passed since Steve has left us.

Never before in my life have I felt that time is our most precious resource.

Right now I am facing several time constraints. As most of you know, all my work related to Steve Jobs is done in my so-called ‘spare time’, time that is not blocked by professional or social imperatives. I am striving to use that time as best as I can to achieve two things:

  • first, keep up with the continuous influx of new information, new pictures, new stories about Steve that have come out since his death. Right now this includes reading and analyzing the much-anticipated biography by Walter Isaacson.
  • also keep working on the next version of all about Steve Jobs.com which has been in the works for the past two months. Obviously the two are linked, because that version will integrate, in one form or another, the aforementioned content.

The idea of a completely refurbished and much more complete website came to me this summer. It was reinforced and re-thought out in the wake of Steve’s resignation as Apple CEO. Then I understood his career ‘as we knew it’ was over.  The website had to reflect that. Mind you, I never expected him to leave us so soon. But the outpouring of emotions from all over the world that followed his passing, which translated to record-breaking traffic to all about Steve Jobs.com, was only more evidence to me that I was on the right track. The world can’t get enough of Steve Jobs — and that’s a good sign.

I like to think that my work on the website is similar to Apple’s approach of designing a product. This is why for this new version I am rewriting the code and redesigning the visual elements from scratch. That’s also why I will not speak up on a release date, as I don’t want to be constrained by my own promises. I will only release it when I am proud of the result. Let me just say that I think you will all enjoy the enhancements, both in terms of content (some of it badly needed an update) and of form.

Obviously, I do not have time to update the current website and this blog in addition. It will likely stay in this current form until the new website is ready. If you are eager to keep up with the latest news on Steve Jobs — and boy, there sure are things not to miss — I suggest you follow me on Twitter. This is the main medium through which I will communicate both SJ news and news on the website. You can also easily reach out to me through that service.

Steve Jobs passed away today

I just woke up to the news of Steve Jobs’ death. I live in France and the news became public while I was sleeping.

The irony is that one of the last things I said before going to bed was to my girlfriend, with whom I shared my concern of the total absence of any reference to Steve during Apple’s latest event. I talked to her about Scoble’s post on Google+:

I’m hearing that Steve Jobs won’t be at tomorrow’s press event. He’s just not feeling well enough to come out in public, I hear (and yes, that makes me sad, the industry will really miss him and they will see again tomorrow why). I keep wishing that these continued rumors are wrong, but know in my head that they probably are right.

and said, “you know, maybe he’s at the hospital or something. One day we might hear he’s dead just like that, out of the blue”. Of course I never expected that day would be today, the day following the event.

It really is Steve-ian to have stayed CEO until the last possible moment. Of course the words of Steve’s resignation keep coming back into my head.

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

But like many others I wouldn’t believe they meant his health condition had been decreasing. I thought he wanted some rest for the last years, if not months, of his life. I thought he would be there around the time his biography came out. I thought he would take time to have his house finally built. But no. Like so many geniuses and heroes before him, he fought until the last moment, and Death has come to him sooner than it should.

Of course I am still overwhelmed by the news and all the testimonials that are pouring out everywhere. I will take some time to reflect and think about what this news for Apple, even for me. As far as the website is concerned, I was working on the next version that would come out in 2-3 weeks. With today’s news I will transform the project into an online tribute to our greatest hero, the man who has changed the world several times over, one of the greatest innovators and entrepreneurs in history: our Steve.

 

Newfound pictures of Steve from the NeXT era

I recently discovered this video straight from Stanford, which depicts the famed collection of Apple memorabilia that Steve Jobs donated to the university when he came back to Apple. This so-called ‘Apple museum’ includes exclusive documents and pictures from Apple’s early days, namely its first twenty years (1976-1996). Steve Jobs himself mentioned it in the D5 interview with Bill Gates in 2007, saying it was important to focus on the future rather than the past. Still, I wonder if such a collection is being built for Apple 2.0, especially now that Steve is no longer CEO.

On that subject, I was blessed with two recent findings of great sets of photographs of Steve during his NeXT days (my favorite).

First, thanks to reader JB Durand who shared this with me back in July, you can find on Flickr a great set of pictures (by Esther Dyson) from the PC Forum shows of the late 1980s, including pictures of Steve for the 1984, 1985 and 1990 instances. One example below:

I was also fortunate to be contacted by photographer Robert Holmgren three weeks ago about portraits of Steve Jobs he made while Steve was still CEO of NeXT. Again, awesome pictures:

Robert has a couple of blog posts where he explain how he took those photographs and dealt with a difficult subject (complete with the hi-res versions of these pictures). He also has fun stories about his signed Macintosh and a trip to the Jobses’ garage, including an encounter with Steve’s father, Paul. Be sure to check it out.

I am not adding these pictures to the website just yet, because I am working hard on the next version of the website, which I hope to be able to release after the iPhone 5 introduction. They will be on that new version. Thanks Robert!

Lastly, compliment of a friend of mine, and still along the lines of a “Steve Jobs Museum”, a great find on the original booklet made by Paul Rand to explain his work on the NeXT logo to Steve Jobs (scroll down to Identity Presentations). Steve loved it so much he hugged Paul as a sign of gratitude, as told by Randall E. Stross in Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing. The booklet was actually the only piece of branded marketing made by NeXT in 1987, along with a Tshirt (before the NeXT Cube was introduced).

For more about Paul Rand, check out this YouTube video where Steve talks about their work relationship.

Gems from the noise following Steve Jobs’ resignation

I’ve been working on this post for a while but I have been overwhelmed by a number of things recently so sorry about the delay.

I’ve always thought that the only positive thing that would result from Steve Jobs’ withdrawal from the public spotlight would be the flurry of stories to pour out from all corners of the Wold Wide Web. His recent resignation proved me right. To save you time and effort, here is my personal selection among the several dozens of articles and stories I have read in the past three weeks. If you think a worthy one is missing, do not hesitate to mention it in the comments.

The big news

Homages

Steve Jobs stories

Rediscovered treasures

On Steve’s health

Today is the historic day we knew would come: Steve Jobs just resigned from Apple.

So many signs were given to prepare us to that historic piece of news: not only did Steve take an unlimited medical leave of absence, he started planning a new home, and cooperated on his first authorized biography… So it would be foolish to pretend we didn’t see Steve’s resignation coming. Yet I’m sure it still resonates as a shock many of us. It certainly does to me.

Here is the letter most of you will have already read I’m sure.

August 24, 2011 06:34 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Letter from Steve Jobs

CUPERTINO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

I will give myself some time to think more deeply about the future of Apple and of course, of Steve himself. What I am dreading the most is the noise that we, “the Apple Community” — and especially we, Steve Jobs admirers — will have to endure in the coming months from ignorant analysts or sensationalist hacks about that historic event. I hope they will show Steve the respect he deserves.

Good luck to Tim Cook for running what is, has always been, and probably always will be, Steve’s company — and certainly his greatest masterwork.

Thank you Steve for the incredible journey you have led Apple and all of us on. I’m sure it is not over. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life. 

 

About blogs, biographies and apricot orchards

I have been thinking about the next version of the website for some time, and it’s time for Phase I to roll out.

I have moved the website to a new host last week. It should now be faster and more reliable. And today, I moved the blog to that same host. It is now really 100% under all about Steve Jobs.com, since all things Steve Jobs doesn’t seem to be catching on, and is just too confusing. Even though I am keeping the URL allthingsstevejobs.com, it will now point to allaboutstevejobs.com/blog. You might have noticed the better cosmetic integration with the rest of the website too.

I don’t think any of you has missed the two big pieces of Steve Jobs news from the past two weeks:

  • the city of Cupertino has published the plans for the upcoming Apple ‘spaceship’ campus. It’s not bigger than the Pentagon — but close. If you’ve had a thorough look at the plans, Steve’s favored apricot orchards are showing up in the north east garden of the campus (see picture below).

July 2011 Steve Jobs news roundup

Busy month for me, hopefully Steve Jobs news have been somewhat slow too (apart from last week’s).

Here’s what I put aside for you:

    • July 9: A weird video surfaces from Taiwan. A tea brand shamelessly used an actor to play Steve Jobs and sell bottled tea in a TV commercial. See for yourself:


      (via Cult of Mac)
    • July 8: French magazine Le Point reveals that Steve almost purchased a castle in the South-East of France. Pictured below, the property is valued at around €25m ($36m). Apparently Steve’s wife, Laurene, toured the property herself.
      The article also relates that back in 1985, Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, a French journalist close to President Francois Mitterrand, apparently asked of the head of state a special present to Steve Jobs for his 30th birthday. I’ve read many stories about that famed birthday, where tons of celebrities attended, including Ella Fitzgerald who was the party singer. Anyway, JJSS (as he is often called) reportedly suggested that the French nationality was offered to the Apple co-founder as a special gift. The French President nonchalantly refused. I think Steve would have appreciated the gift, as he has often testified of his love of France (I have made a compilation of the many times he uses France in Apple demos).
      • July 11: a new Tshirt made it to the Apple Gift shop in Cupertino… making fun of the company’s cult of secrecy. I’m buying it next time I go there! (via Macrumors).
      • July 21: John Gruber of Daring Fireball spotted a nice anecdote about Steve and his legendary curtesy. I am quoting the same thing he did:

        The story goes that ESPN president George Bodenheimer attended the first Disney board meeting in Orlando, Florida, just after the company had bought Pixar, the innovative animation factory, and spotted Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a hallway. It seemed like a good time to introduce himself. “I am George Bodenheimer,” he said to Jobs. “I run ESPN.” Jobs just looked at him and said nothing other than “Your phone is the dumbest fucking idea I have ever heard,” then turned and walked away.

      • July 21: Philip Elmer-Dewitt dug out a nice chart that compiles all the public data about Apple’s reiumbursements of the expenses of Steve’s famed private jet airplane. I think it is worth mentioning that Steve can use the jet for his personal use, but then of course the company doesn’t reiumburse him of the cost of operating it. The chart is below:
    • July 23: after all the nonsense we’ve come to read about Steve’s succession lately (which did grant us a new Steve Jobs quote: “it’s hogwash”, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal) — John Gruber wrote a very good article, the kind that only he knows how to write, on the topic: On Succeeding Steve Jobs. His conclusion: “the obvious structure for a post-Jobs Apple is simply Apple as we know it, without Steve Jobs.” I believe he is 100% right and that’s what we will see, perhaps as early as next year. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, I am not sure Tim Cook can keep the fire alive as Steve did for the next decade. And as I’ve stated before, I think he will have trouble running the company unchallenged the way only the genius-founder Steve Jobs can. His authority to run the super-disciplined fruit company will probably be challenged a couple of years after Steve is gone… Time will tell.