Movie Review – Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview

With the global attention accorded the passing of Steve Jobs in October, it might seem that, after the media saturation of biography, photos, and television interludes and interviews, nothing additional of interest could be said about the man. Such was my belief until I was offered the chance to view a rough cut of a video based on an interview that Robert Cringely* conducted with Steve Jobs for the documentary, “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires,” an epic PBS miniseries about the founding of the personal computer industry.

We have seen some edits of the interview, but the master tapes had been lost until recently. A VHS tape (somehow this sounds so fitting!) survived in the garage of the producer – the only intact copy of the entire interview, rather than the 10-minute edit with which many people are familiar.

Is the interview interesting? Is it worth an hour of your time? In my opinion the answer is an unqualified “yes.” This is Jobs talking as candidly as you have ever seen him, pulling no punches, on topics ranging from John Scully’s leadership of Apple, to his ecstatic joy over “blue boxing” the AT&T phone system with pal Steve Wozniak. Do you wonder why so many seemingly savvy businesses miss golden opportunities? Jobs’ own experience with administrators and managers who are more concerned with their own systems and corporate structure than the customers and products they are supposed to be embracing rings as true now as it did in 1995 when this interview was taped. Jobs’ explanation of why Xerox had that sort of corporate mentality, and what it cost them, should be a required viewing in any business school curriculum.

I’ve been reading Cringely’s writings on technology for years and always admired the clearheaded dissection of the issues at play in the tech sector and their implications of those issues for society at large. In this interview he unhesitatingly asks Jobs some uncomfortable questions. Why Jobs allowed this might have had to do with their history together. Cringely once worked for Jobs – in fact he was Apple employee #12 – so it feels natural and relaxed, and the end result is an insightful interview that left me with a bittersweet feeling, exhilarated at his passion, and reminded of what the world lost with Jobs’ passing.

This week, special premiere screenings will be held at selected Landmark Theaters around the country on Wednesday, November 16 and Thursday, November 17.

If you are a member of the Mac community, a die-hard Mac head, or just interested in the history of technology, we think the release of this video is a wonderful pre-holiday treat for the Mac and technology community. Get some tickets, join a group of like-minded folks, and enjoy a video that no one, including the people who made it, has seen in years. I think you will be glad you did – I was. Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview is a Mac Edition Radio Holiday Pick!

* - Robert X. Cringely is the pen name of technology journalist Mark Stephens. Over the years various folks wrote under the Cringley pen name, but for this article Mark Stephens is the man behind the curtain.  

Harris Fogel, Posted 11/13/2011

For a list of participating theaters, times, and information just visit: