Steve Jobs ‘caustic’ in newly-recovered 72-minute video interview

A “lost” interview with the late Steve Jobs, from the mid-1990s, will screen at 19 U.S. theatres for two days next week. Only 10 minutes of the original 69-minute conversation were ever aired.

But based on those few minutes, which broadcast in the 1996 PBS documentary miniseries “Triumph of the Nerds: the Rise of Accidental Empires,” the rest of the interview with Apple’s co-founder could be entertaining and possibly revealing. Jobs died Oct. 5 at age 56, after a long battle with cancer.

The PBS miniseries was the brainchild of tech author Robert Cringely, who worked for Jobs at one point. He was the series writer and narrator, and conducted the Jobs interview, which covered a wide range of topics. Most of Jobs’ quotes that made it into the original documentary were about the development of the personal computer, and the rise and near-fall of Apple.

But the original recording was lost after the airing when the master tapes disappeared during shipping, according to the new film’s Web site. But recently, an unedited copy of the entire Jobs interview was unearthed in London, and formed the basis of the new, 72-minute film.

The interview will air at Landmark Theater locations in 19 U.S. cities on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 16 and 17. The film Web site has a list of the cities and links to the local theater for times and ticket prices.

Viewers can expect a blunt, unapologetic, opinionated, and even caustic Jobs, based on the comments in the original PBS excerpts.

In that documentary (you can find a transcript online including Episode 3, from which the following quotes are taken), he described Xerox PARC, which created the prototype of a graphical user interface, as “[b]asically they were copier heads that just had no clue about a computer or what it could do. And so they just grabbed, eh, grabbed defeat from the greatest victory in the computer industry. Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry today.”

On Microsoft: “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste, and what that means is — I don’t mean that in a small way I mean that in a big way. In the sense that they, they don’t think of original ideas and they don’t bring much culture into their product. … I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products.”

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

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