This 1985 Playboy interview with “Steven” Jobs is long, but fascinating. It’s from 25 years ago! This was a time where the “mouse” had to be explained to the readers because most people wouldn’t know what it was. (“a “mouse” (a small rolling box with a button on it)”). I pulled out a lot of excerpts I thought were interesting:
The Apple offices in 1985, the forerunner for dotcom offices later on:
“The Apple offices are clearly not like most places of employment. Video games abound, ping-pong tables are in use, speakers blare out music ranging from The Rolling Stones to Windham Hill jazz. Conference rooms are named after Da Vinci and Picasso, and snack-room refrigerators are stocked with fresh carrot, apple and orange juice. (The Mac team alone spends $100,000 on fresh juice per year.)
On Andy Warhol and Keith Haring using the first Macintosh that Jobs had brought to a birthday party for a 9 year old:
Two other party guests wandered into the room and looked over Jobs’s shoulder. ‘Hmmm,’ said the first, Andy Warhol. ‘What is this? Look at this, Keith. This is incredible!’ The second guest, Keith Haring, the graffiti artist whose work now commands huge prices, went over. Warhol and Haring asked to take a turn at the Mac, and as I walked away, Warhol had just sat down to manipulate the mouse. ‘My God!’ he was saying, ‘I drew a circle!’
On why Jobs was more interested in talking to the 9 year old than the celebrity artists (emphasis mine):
“But more revealing was the scene after the party. Well after the other guests had gone, Jobs stayed to tutor the boy on the fine points of using the Mac. Later, I asked him why he had seemed happier with the boy than with the two famous artists. His answer seemed unrehearsed to me: ‘Older people sit down and ask, “What is it?” but the boy asks, “What can I do with it?”‘“
On what technology the computer compares to:
The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most peopleâ€”as remarkable as the telephone.
PLAYBOY: Aside from some of the recurrent criticismsâ€”that the mouse is inefficient, that the Macintosh screen is only black and whiteâ€”the most serious charge is that Apple overprices its products. Do you care to answer any or all?
JOBS: We’ve done studies that prove that the mouse is faster than traditional ways of moving through data or applications. Someday we may be able to build a color screen for a reasonable price. As to overpricing, the start-up of a new product makes it more expensive than it will be later. The more we can produce, the lower the price will getâ€”â€”
PLAYBOY: That’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: That’s simply untrue. As soon as we can lower prices, we do. It’s true that our computers are less expensive today than they were a few years ago, or even last year. But that’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 it’s going to be to do that. I’d love it if Macintosh cost $1000.
On the iPhone:
JOBS: The developments will be in making the products more and more portable, networking them, getting out laser printers, getting out shared data bases, getting out more communications ability, maybe the merging of the telephone and the personal computer.
The big villain in this article is IBM. It’s sort of jarring that Microsoft isn’t mentioned once:
All these things show that it really is coming down to just Apple and IBM. If, for some reason, we make some giant mistakes and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter sort of a computer Dark Ages for about 20 years. Once IBM gains control of a market sector, they almost always stop innovation. They prevent innovation from happening.
PLAYBOY: Which brings us full circle to your latest milestones, the Mac and your protracted shoot-out with IBM. In this Interview, you’ve repeatedly sounded as if there really are only two of you left in the field. But although the two of you account for something like 60 percent of the market, can you just write off the other 40 percentâ€”the Radio Shacks, DECs, Epsons, et al.â€”as insignificant? More important, are you ignoring your potentially biggest rival, A.T.&T.?
JOBS: A.T.&T.. is absolutely going to be in the business. There is a major transformation in the company that’s taking place right now. A.T.&T. is changing from a subsidized and regulated service-oriented company to a free-market, competitive-marketing technology company. A.T.&T.’s products per se have never been of the highest quality. All you have to do is go look at their telephones. They’re somewhat of an embarrassment. But they do possess great technology in their research labs. Their challenge is to learn how to commercialize that technology. Also, they have to learn about consumer marketing. I think that they will do both of those things, but it’s going to take them years.