The following Steve Jobs quote was taken from a 1985 interview Jobs did with Playboy magazine. The full interview is chock-full of fascinating quotes, prescient predictions and astute observations. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but for the time being let’s focus on a small excerpt.
Not too long ago, we highlighted how Edwin Land, the inventor of the Polaroid camera, was Jobs’ idol. Here, Jobs heaps praise upon Land and comments on the absurdity that Land was eventually forced out of the company he co-founded, which as we all know is what exactly happened to Jobs just a few months after the interview was published.
You know, Dr. Edwin Land was a troublemaker. He dropped out of Harvard and founded Polaroid. Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that. Polaroid did that for some years, but eventually Dr. Land, one of those brilliant troublemakers, was asked to leave his own company‐‑which is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of. So Land, at 75, went off to spend the remainder of his life doing pure science, trying to crack the code of color vision. The man is a national treasure. I don’t understand why people like that can’t be held up as models: This is the most incredible thing to be‐‑not an astronaut, not a football player‐‑but this.
First, this seemingly innocuous quote reveals just how involved Jobs was with every aspect of Apple following his return in the late 90s. Recently we highlighted a never-aired clip of the iconic “Crazy Ones” Think Different ad narrated by Steve Jobs. The famous ad starts off with, “Here’s to the troublemakers.”
And lo and behold, that’s exactly how Jobs references Land, as a troublemaker. Now that we have Steve Jobs’ biography as a reference point, we know that Jobs played an integral role in creating the Think Different narrative, even going so far as to narrate it himself before opting to go with Richard Dreyfus out of fear that people would think the commercial was about him and not Apple.
Second, the parallel between Jobs and Land is a tad eerie. Jobs was clearly frustrated that Land, who he admiringly calls a brilliant troublemaker, was forced to leave the company he co-founded. Just a few months after the interview was published, Jobs himself was effectively ousted from his own company, something which hurt him to the core. Indeed, following his ouster from Apple, Jobs never spoke to former Apple CEO John Sculley again.
Third, Jobs praises Land for seeing the value of creating products that were at the “intersection of art and science and business.”
This notion was clearly a tent of Jobs as he’d later bring it up as Apple CEO when describing Apple products, which he championed for being at the intersection of liberal arts and technology. Indeed, this theme is featured quite prominently in the Jobs biography.
Undoubtedly, the Steve Jobs of 1985 was the same as the Steve Jobs of 1976 and 2011.