Steve Jobs

We finally watched the Aaron Sorkin movie “Steve Jobs” last night – streamed as a rental from Amazon.

I’ve got mixed feelings about it. I’ve read a lot of the history books, so know the stories from all sorts of different perspectives, and I’ve listened to countless podcasts where tech journalists that covered Apple for decades pretty much uniformly stated “that’s not how any of it happened”.

As the credits rolled at the end, we began talking about the movie, and about who Steve might have been. The movie portrays him as a combative, confrontational monster, who turned any discussion into a conflict that would be pushed to the absolute limit before giving any concessions. I think perhaps his “approach” to dealing with people was probably correct – but it’s a shame so many of the pivotal moments portrayed in the movie didn’t happen the way the movie portrayed them.

I’ve always drawn parallels between myself and Woz – and related to the observation in the movie that Jobs was nothing more than a strategist. He couldn’t write code, he was terrible at design, and he didn’t have a clue about hardware. Without Steve Wozniak, Apple would never have existed, and yet Jobs became the poster child. You might almost argue that the return of Steve Jobs at Apple is owed almost entirely to Jonathan Ive, which also explains why the company has survived Job’s absence.

From a purely nerdy perspective, I found the story behind the development of the NeXT computer interesting, and now want to read more about it. If it’s true that the computer was only ever designed as a bargaining chip to force the hand of a failing Apple, I’m amazed history hasn’t made more of it. I remember the NeXT workstations appearing in magazines in my early 20s – they were almost mythical. Technological unicorns, bestowed with incredible performance, a great operating system (a Unix derivative), and a stratospheric price. There is a NeXT cube in the Science Museum in London.

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