Steve Jobs gems keep surfacing on YouTube

19 Mar 2021 | in Updates

Finding myself with a bit more free time on my hands than usual, and this being the year where we’ll be mourning the 10-year anniversary of Steve’s passing, I decided to update the website with content that I had been coming across recently.

After Steve passed in 2011, I fully expected things about him to come out (say, books that would not have been dared to be written while he was alive), but I also expected this to taper down after a few years. I certainly didn’t expect super well preserved, full-length interviews from 30 years ago to emerge. Well, boy was I wrong. I’ve been amazed at the content that YouTube (All Bow to the Almighty Algorithm!) surfaced to me this past week. Take a look!

1981 Interview

Last month, this amazing interview from 1981 emerged. It’s actually raw footage that was probably done for a TV segment — it’s complete, and includes small talk with the interviewer (including Steve saying “TV always shoots for the lower common denominator”, a view he held throughout his life and repeated on a few occasions), as well as SJ making faces (shot from his back unfortunately) to distract the interviewer as he repeats some of the questions to facilitate the editing. Overall the theme of the interview is where Personal Computing came from, where it is going, and how it’s like to run a fast-growing Apple.

SJ talking about higher education, 1987

Excerpts from an interview by the BBC about the higher education’s need — and Steve Jobs’ vision — for personal computers and workstations. This was done at a critical time in the early days of NeXT, one year before the NeXT Cube came out. Steve talks about the promise of rapid development of custom apps, thanks to object-oriented programming, that would be one of the founding blocks of NeXTSTEP.

1988 TV feature about NeXT

A short and fun to watch TV segment where Steve Jobs (self-introducing with the classic line “I’m Steve Jobs, and I make computers”) talks about his lifelong goal of having technology be at the crossroads with the humanities, and exemplifies how the recently introduced NeXT computer can help do that, with its Digital Librarian and advanced music software. The demo ends with a violinist playing Bach in duet with the NeXT Cube, the same demo that ended the computer’s introduction at the SF Davies Symphony Hall.

1991 Interview at NeXT

This interview was uploaded just one month ago. It’s a rare interview of Steve Jobs at NeXT’s office where he talks about both the history of the PC, the market landscape in the early 1990s and where he sees it going in the future. Based on what I could gather in the interview, I suspect it was done by Brent Schlender for his coverage of the Ten Years of the [IBM] PC for Fortune Magazine (though he hasn’t confirmed nor denied it). He ended up doing a joint interview with Bill Gates for this piece, which you can read here.

To wrap up, here are three gems from Steve Jobs’ Web Objects period i.e. the late stage of NeXT in 1995-96, when it was purely a B2B software company and finally found product-market fit with the use of its software to build dynamic web pages, at a time when the web was mostly static HTML.

The first two videos are from The Sharper Image’s historical channel. The Sharper Image was a sort of pre-Internet Amazon, a go-go consumerism catalog with a crazy range of things you could buy that you never knew you wanted. They embraced the Web early when it came out and arguably built one of the first e-commerce sites, using NeXT’s Web Objects, which Steve Jobs was very grateful for.

The Sharper Image SF store demo

In this video, Steve Jobs attends the inauguration of The Sharper Image’s Sutter Street store in 1996, and demoes the power of Web Objects on the online catalog (demo starts at the 17:40 mark).

1996 Internet World keynote

Steve Jobs gives a keynote at the Internet World expo, where he explains the value of Web Objects for building webpages on the fly (and uses Dodge, Reebok, and The Sharper Image websites for the demo). Unfortunately, the screen of SJ’s PC wasn’t captured in the video.

1996 WEBMANIA keynote

A classic SJ keynote given at the WEBMANIA expo, where he talked about NeXT’s Web Objects and gives a few demos. It’s notable for at least two reasons: seeing SJ demoing on a PC, and wearing a denim jacket on stage.

To wrap up, I also uploaded short excerpts from a few recordings I had laying around my hard drive:

  1. 1983 – A montage of the few excerpts I have of the Fall 1983 sales conference in Hawaii where Steve Jobs first showed off the “1984” Macintosh ad, and held a fake “Software dating game” featuring Mitch Kapor of Lotus and a young fellow named Bill Gates.
  2. 1985 – Again, a montage from a TV feature on Apple’s struggles in the 1985 downturn, including rare footage from Apple’s shareholders meeting that year (if you have more footage of that keynote, where Apple Talk and the Macintosh Office were introduced, do reach out!)
  3. Feb 1987 – Excerpt from a BBC documentary showing Steve Jobs being interviewed at Pixar’s first anniversary party
  4. Sep 1998 – Amateur footage of the Apple Expo 1998 keynote in Paris (the official recording seems lost!). The keynoted ended with a failed attempt at an impressive demo of iMacs’ networking capabilities — 49 iMacs were mounted on a huge rack to show it off, but it resulted in a blunder on which SJ ended the keynote abruptly (not sure if it was the plan or he was too pissed off to continue!)