- Jan 17, 2010
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What's it like to be Steve Jobs at 29 years old? Playboy has the scoop with a re-released interview of Mr. Jobs when he rising to the top of the technology world. The article was publish just months before he was actually was fired from the company he co-founded and built from the ground up. Here are a few interesting clips from the interview:
His supervisor at HPâ€™s favorite thing
Playboy: You went to work for Hewlett-Packard. How did that happen?
Jobs: When I was 12 or 13, I wanted to build something and I needed some parts, so I picked up the phone and called Bill Hewlettâ€“he was listed in the Palo Alto phone book. He answered the phone and he was real nice. He chatted with me for, like, 20 minutes. He didnâ€™t know me at all, but he ended up giving me some parts and he got me a job that summer working at Hewlett-Packard on the line, assembling frequency counters. Assembling may be too strong. I was putting in screws. It didnâ€™t matter; I was in heaven.
I remember my first day, expressing my complete enthusiasm and bliss at being at Hewlett-Packard for the summer to my supervisor, a guy named Chris, telling him that my favorite thing in the whole world was electronics. I asked him what his favorite thing to do was and he looked at me and said, â€œTo fuck!â€ [Laughs] I learned a lot that summer.
On growing apart from Steve Wozniak
Playboy: What happened to the partnership as time went on?
Jobs: The main thing was that Woz was never really interested in Apple as a company. He was just sort of interested in getting the Apple II on a printed circuit board so he could have one and be able to carry it to his computer club without having the wires break on the way. He had done that and decided to go on to other things. He had other ideas.
Playboy: Such as the US Festival rock concert and computer show, where he lost something like $10,000,000.
Jobs: Well, I thought the US Festival was a little crazy, but Woz believed very strongly in it.
Playboy: How is it between the two of you now?
Jobs: When you work with somebody that close and you go through experiences like the ones we went through, thereâ€™s a bond in life. Whatever hassles you have, there is a bond. And even though he may not be your best friend as time goes on, thereâ€™s still something that transcends even friendship, in a way. Woz is living his own life now. He hasnâ€™t been around Apple for about five years. But what he did will go down in history. Heâ€™s going around speaking to a lot of computer events now. He likes that.
Jobs on the mouse
Playboy: Most computers use key strokes to enter instructions, but Macintosh replaces many of them with something called a mouseâ€“a little box that is rolled around on your desk and guides a pointer on your computer screen. Itâ€™s a big change for people used to keyboards. Why the mouse?
Jobs: If I want to tell you there is a spot on your shirt, Iâ€™m not going to do it linguistically: â€œThereâ€™s a spot on your shirt 14 centimeters down from the collar and three centimeters to the left of your button.â€ If you have a spotâ€“â€There!â€ [He points]â€“Iâ€™ll point to it. Pointing is a metaphor we all know. Weâ€™ve done a lot of studies and tests on that, and itâ€™s much faster to do all kinds of functions, such as cutting and pasting, with a mouse, so itâ€™s not only easier to use but more efficient.
Wishing he could price a Mac at $1,000
Playboy: Thatâ€™s what critics charge you with: hooking the enthusiasts with premium prices, then turning around and lowering your prices to catch the rest of the market.
Jobs: Thatâ€™s simply untrue. As soon as we can lower prices, we do. Itâ€™s true that our computers are less expensive today than they were a few years ago, or even last year. But thatâ€™s also true of the IBM PC. Our goal is to get computers out to tens of millions of people, and the cheaper we can make them, the easier itâ€™s going to be to do that. Iâ€™d love it if Macintosh cost $1000.
On quality and motivation
Playboy: Does it take insane people to make insanely great things?
Jobs: Actually, making an insanely great product has a lot to do with the process of making the product, how you learn things and adopt new ideas and throw out old ideas. But, yeah, the people who made Mac are sort of on the edge.
Playboy: Whatâ€™s the difference between the people who have insanely great ideas and the people who pull off those insanely great ideas?
Jobs: Let me compare it with IBM. How come the Mac group produced Mac and the people at IBM produced the PCjr? We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didnâ€™t build Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We werenâ€™t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build. When youâ€™re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, youâ€™re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. Youâ€™ll know itâ€™s there, so youâ€™re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
Playboy: Are you saying that the people who made the PCjr donâ€™t have that kind of pride in the product?
Jobs: If they did, they wouldnâ€™t have turned out the PCjr. It seems clear to me that they were designing that on the basis of market research for a specific market segment, for a specific demographic type of customer, and they hoped that if they built this, lots of people would buy them and theyâ€™d make lots of money. Those are different motivations. The people in the Mac group wanted to build the greatest computer that has ever been seen.
Why IBM was like Frito-Lay
Jobs: Look at this example: Frito-Lay is a very interesting company. They call on more than half a million accounts a week. Thereâ€™s a Frito-Lay rack in each store, and the chips are all there, and every storeâ€™s got the identical rack and the big ones have multiples. For Frito-Lay, the biggest problem is stale productâ€“bad chips, so to speak. For Frito-Layâ€™s service, theyâ€™ve got, like, 10,000 guys who run around and take out the stale product and replace it with good product. They talk to the manager of that department and they make sure everythingâ€™s fine. Because of that service and support, they now have more than an 80 percent share of every segment of chips that theyâ€™re in. Nobody else can break into that. As long as they keep doing what they do well, nobody else can get 80 percent of the market share, because they canâ€™t get the sales and support staff. They canâ€™t get it because they canâ€™t afford it. They canâ€™t afford it because they donâ€™t have 80 percent of the market share. Itâ€™s catch-22. Nobody will ever be able to break into their franchise.
Frito-Lay doesnâ€™t have to innovate very much. They just watch all the little chip companies come out with something new, study it for a year, and a year or two years later they come out with their own, service and support it to death, and theyâ€™ve got 80 percent of the market share of the new product a year later.
IBM is playing exactly the same game. If you look at the mainframe market place, thereâ€™s been virtually zero innovation since IBM got dominant control of that market place 15 years ago. They are going to do the same thing in every other sector of the computer market place if they can get away with it. The IBM PC fundamentally brought no new technology to the industry at all. It was just repackaging and slight extension of Apple II technology, and they want it all. They absolutely want it all.
This market place is coming down to the two of us, whether we like it or not. I donâ€™t particularly like it, but itâ€™s coming down to Apple and IBM.
On being horrified the Apple II was used to target nuclear weapons
Playboy: And you think computers will help in that process.
Jobs: Well, Iâ€™ll tell you a story. I saw a video tape that we werenâ€™t supposed to see. It was prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. By watching the tape, we discovered that, at least as of a few years ago, every tactical nuclear weapon in Europe manned by U.S. personnel was targeted by an Apple II computer. Now, we didnâ€™t sell computers to the military; they went out and bought them at a dealerâ€™s, I guess. But it didnâ€™t make us feel good to know that our computers were being used to target nuclear weapons in Europe. The only bright side of it was that at least they werenâ€™t [Radio Shack] TRS-80s! Thank God for that.
The point is that tools are always going to be used for certain things we donâ€™t find personally pleasing. And itâ€™s ultimately the wisdom of people, not the tools themselves, that is going to determine whether or not these things are used in positive, productive ways.
On living life as an artist rather than a businessman
Jobs: â€¦ Iâ€™ll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life Iâ€™ll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when Iâ€™m not there, but Iâ€™ll always come back. And thatâ€™s what I may try to do. The key thing to remember about me is that Iâ€™m still a student. Iâ€™m still in boot camp. If anyone is reading any of my thoughts, Iâ€™d keep that in mind. Donâ€™t take it all too seriously. If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever youâ€™ve done and whoever you were and throw them away. What are we, anyway? Most of what we think we are is just a collection of likes and dislikes, habits, patterns. At the core of what we are is our values, and what decisions and actions we make reflect those values. That is why itâ€™s hard doing interviews and being visible: As you are growing and changing, the more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you that it thinks you are, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to go, â€œBye. I have to go. Iâ€™m going crazy and Iâ€™m getting out of here.â€ And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.
Playboy: What does the money actually mean to you?
Jobs: I still donâ€™t understand it. Itâ€™s a large responsibility to have more than you can spend in your lifetimeâ€“and I feel I have to spend it. If you die, you certainly donâ€™t want to leave a large amount to your children. It will just ruin their lives. And if you die without kids, it will all go to the Government. Almost everyone would think that he could invest the money back into humanity in a much more astute way than the Government could. The challenges are to figure out how to live with it and to reinvest it back into the world, which means either giving it away or using it to express your concerns or values.
Playboy: So what do you do?
Jobs: Thatâ€™s a part of my life that I like to keep private. When I have some time, Iâ€™m going to start a public foundation. I do some things privately now.
Playboy: You could spend all of your time disbursing your money.
Jobs: Oh, you have to. Iâ€™m convinced that to give away a dollar effectively is harder than to make a dollar.
On turning 30
Playboy: Do you know what you want to do with the rest of this lifetime?
Jobs: Thereâ€™s an old Hindu saying that comes into my mind occasionally: â€œFor the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years of your life, yourhabits make you.â€ As Iâ€™m going to be 30 in February, the thought has crossed my mind.
Continue reading the entire interview here: Playboy Interview - Steven Jobs