by Richard von Busack
“People like symbols. I’m the symbol of certain things.” At about age 40, Steve Jobs unfolded on his career to journalist Robert X. Cringely; a small portion of this interview was used for the 1995 TV documentary Triumph of the Nerds. Most of this is being aired for the first time. Jobs describes childhood fascination with computers in a long-gone Valley. As a 12 year old, he got Bill Hewlett’s phone number out of the telephone book and called him up, speaking with him for 20 minutes and landing a summer job at H-P. Later came a criminal life, engineering the infamous “blue box” that skeleton-keyed the telephone system, following that he got into business home-wiring Apple One computers for sale at the Byte Shop in Mountain View. Cringely asks intelligent questions; more importantly, he has a subject who was in a mood to look backwards. Jobs’ talk is mainly of companies crashing and burning. One of them was the company he founded: “Apple is dying a very painful death.” Jobs didn’t foresee his second life at Apple, but he scopes the future clearly: “the Web is incredibly exciting, the fulfillment of the computer being used not primarly for computation but communication. Plus it’s exciting because Microsoft doesn’t own it.”
Cringely will be on hand at Landmark's Aquarius Theatre in Palo Alto tonight, Nov 16, at 7:15pm and 9pm, and at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco Nov 17 at 7:15pm and 9pm.