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Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview

By Philip Martin

This article was published June 8, 2012 at 2:29 a.m.

— While Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview seems less like a movie than the sort of thing you might find as supplementary material on a DVD, if you’re the sort of person who is interested in technology, and specifically the evolution of the company Jobs co-founded, Apple, then you’ll likely be interested in this document.

What it is is an unedited 70-minute interview, a single fixed camera shot, that the then-40-year-old Jobs granted to Robert X. Cringely, a technology writer and former Apple employee, in 1995, while he was still in exile from Apple. Jobs was forced out of Apple by the board in 1985; he soon formed the computer platform development company NeXT. In 1996, he returned as chief executive officer of Apple, after the company acquired NeXT, in order to use an operating system it devised as the basis for Mac OS X.

OS X not only made a new generation of Mac computers possible, it paved the way for devices such as iPods and iPhones.

Jobs was notoriously reluctant to sit for interviews, and he talked to Cringely understanding that only brief snippets of the interview would appear in the PBS miniseries Triumph of the Nerds. Until recently, Cringely believed that the full interview had been lost, but last year a copy was discovered. The film was released in a few cities after Jobs’ death last year, and now it is showing up here.

As you might expect, it’s hardly a polished production, and other than a brief introduction, it has not been augmented with any extraneous material. What we get is Jobs, seemingly fairly relaxed, talking candidly about his life and work and his straightforward philosophy, which boils down to work hard, hire smart people and listen to them. He is brutally frank about how his nemesis and successor, John Sculley, “systematically destroyed” the values of Apple.

There are a few amusing anecdotes - Jobs shares the story of how he and his garage punk partner Steve Wozniak used their Apple I prototype to call the Vatican, only to hang up when the pope actually came on the line.

I don’t know if I’d pay full price to see this film, but I understand there are people who will find it fascinating to listen to the prescient Jobs talk about the future of the then-yet-nascent Internet, hardware and the business of running a business - which seems to have interested Jobs more than computer science. It’s not really fair to judge this raw footage as a movie; a general audience might need more background information, more context - but for us geeks, this is enough.

Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview 85

Cast: Documentary with Steve Jobs, Robert X. Cringely

Director: Paul Sen

Rating: Not rated

Running time: 71 minutes

MovieStyle, Pages 36 on 06/08/2012

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