updated 09:12 pm EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Jobs compared his work to 'a layer of sediment,' part of a mountain
In apparent response to a question that compared the computer and Internet revolution of the 80s and 90s to a new Renaissance, a never-publicly-seen video of Steve Jobs in 1994 -- while he was still with NeXT -- sees the bearded and reflective Apple co-founder commenting on his likely legacy and the place of the industry he helped create. The video was uploaded to a YouTube channel called "EverySteveJobsVideo" on Tuesday and comes from the Silicon Valley Historical Association.
In the short video (seen below), Jobs appears somewhat dismissive of his overall contribution, pointing out how quickly things go obsolete in the ever-changing world of technology. He pointed out that the Apple II was already obsolete, as was the Apple I -- and added that the Macintosh was "on the verge" of obsolescence "in the next few years." He called the technology field "a very strange business" and said that all the work he had done up to that point (after nearly 20 years in the industry) would be out of date "by the time I'm 50."
"This is a field where one does not write a principia which holds up for 200 years," Jobs continued. "... this is a field where one does one's work and in 10 years it's obsolete, a really will not [even] be useable within 10 or 20 years." He then went on to compare the field to "sediments of rocks ... you're building up a mountain, and you get to contribute your little layer of sedimentary rock to make the mountain that much higher."
He added that people will benefit from the contribution by "standing on that mountain," but that they wouldn't be able to see everything that had gone into making the mountain, except perhaps for "that rare geologist." The remarks paint Jobs as aware that his own contribution would eventually come to be seen as just part of a larger, collective effort towards a general societal achievement versus any single contribution.
While Jobs went on to have a second life at Apple and contribute to the "mountain" in many other ways, the clip shows Jobs with a sense of humility and broader perspective not always associated with the often-mercurial, complex former CEO and his notorious periodic behavior. The excerpt is part of a longer interview the SVHA is making available for download or on DVD entitled Steve Jobs: Visionary Entrepreneur. The film is a 60-minute documentary built around the full 20-minute interview with Jobs at NeXT headquarters.