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Playboy Interview: Steven Jobs (1985)

12 Oct

This is an interview given by legendary Steve Jobs for Playboy…the entire text is from http://www.txtpost.com/playboy-interview-steven-jobs/, and thanks to http://longform.org/ for this.

Playboy: We survived 1984, and computers did not take over the world, though some people might find that hard to believe. If there’s any one individual who can be either blamed or praised for the proliferation of computers, you, the 29-year-old father of the computer revolution, are the prime contender. It has also made you wealthy beyond dreams‐‑your stock was worth almost a half billion dollars at one point, wasn’t it?

Steven Jobs: I actually lost $250,000,000 in one year when the stock went down. [Laughs]

Playboy: You can laugh about it?

Jobs: I’m not going to let it ruin my life. Isn’t it kind of funny? You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me in the past ten years. But it makes me feel old, sometimes, when I speak at a campus and I find that what students are most in awe of is the fact that I’m a millionaire. When I went to school, it was right after the Sixties and before this general wave of practical purposefulness had set in. Now students aren’t even thinking in idealistic terms, or at least nowhere near as much. They certainly are not letting any of the philosophical issues of the day take up too much of their time as they study their business majors. The idealistic wind of the Sixties was still at our backs, though, and most of the people I know who are my age have that ingrained in them forever.

Playboy: It’s interesting that the computer field has made millionaires of‐‑

Jobs: Young maniacs, I know.

Playboy: We were going to say guys like you and Steve Wozniak, working out of a garage only ten years ago. Just what is this revolution you two seem to have started? Jobs: We’re living in the wake of the petrochemical revolution of 100 years ago. The petrochemical revolution gave us free energy‐‑free mechanical energy, in this case. It changed the texture of society in most ways. This revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind: free intellectual energy. It’s very crude today, yet our Macintosh computer takes less power than a 100-watt light bulb to run and it can save you hours a day. What will it be able to do ten or 20 years from now, or 50 years from now? This revolution will dwarf the petrochemical revolution. We’re on the forefront.

Playboy: Maybe we should pause and get your definition of what a computer is. How do they work?

Jobs: Computers are actually pretty simple. We’re sitting here on a bench in this cafe [for this part of the Interview]. Let’s assume that you understood only the most rudimentary of directions and you asked how to find the rest room. I would have to describe it to you in very specific and precise instructions. I might say, “Scoot sideways two meters off the bench. Stand erect. Lift left foot. Bend left knee until it is horizontal. Extend left foot and shift weight 300 centimeters forward .” and on and on. If you could interpret all those instructions 100 times faster than any other person in this cafe, you would appear to be a magician: You could run over and grab a milk shake and bring it back and set it on the table and snap your fingers, and I’d think you made the milk shake appear, because it was so fast relative to my perception. That’s exactly what a computer does. It takes these very, very simple-minded instructions‐-”Go fetch a number, add it to this number, put the result there, perceive if it’s greater than this other number”‐‑but executes them at a rate of, let’s say, 1,000,000 per second. At 1,000,000 per second, the results appear to be magic. That’s a simple explanation, and the point is that people really don’t have to understand how computers work. Most people have no concept of how an automatic transmission works, yet they know how to drive a car. You don’t have to study physics to understand the laws of motion to drive a car. You don’t have to understand any of this stuff to use Macintosh‐‑but you asked [laughs].

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Interview

 

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