Home > In the News > Wozniak on the movie Jobs: “largely a lie about me” Wozniak on the movie Jobs: “largely a lie about me” Thom Holwerda 2014-01-19 In the News 38 Comments Steve Wozniak about the movie Jobs (crappy Google+ still doesn’t have comment links, so scroll down a bit): Actually, the movie was largely a lie about me. This is what happens when a businessman is hyped up into the stratosphere and turned into a messiah – other people get marginalised to further deify the supposed hero. About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 38 Comments 2014-01-20 12:10 am WorknMan While it’s true that some people like to deify jobs to almost mythical proportions, other people seem to go too far in the other direction and give Wozniak all the credit. Personally, I think they were the perfect combination and deserve an equal amount of credit; Wozniak for being the technical genius, and Jobs for having the vision to bring the tech to the masses. You would never have had Apple without either one of these two guys. 2014-01-20 6:30 am bassbeast I’m sorry but Jobs was a salesman and a sociopath*, that’s all. Don’t get me wrong, the man could sell ice cream to Eskimos, he should probably be right up there with old PT Barnum as one of the greatest salesmen of all recorded history but at the end of the day he didn’t actually design anything like Woz, write the code like Gates, his skill was selling the hell out of the image of the cocksure brilliant unconventional artist and he was DAMN good at that. As for the movie? Classic ‘Star Trek V syndrome” in that it pumped Jobs up SO high that the only way to keep him at that level was to make those around him worse, just as Shatner had to write everyone turning on Kirk to make Kirk the Uber-Hero he had the character in his screenplay. If anybody hasn’t seen it Chuck at SFDebris has an excellent video on STV, well worth a watch. *.-As for the sociopath part? Read up about his history, he really wasn’t a nice man. he screwed Woz on the Atari sale, ratted out his blue box customers to the cops rather than get in trouble himself, you read even the official stories by Jobs himself and you really get the feeling the only person Jobs ever cared about was Jobs. I have to wonder if this isn’t the reason he didn’t publicly groom a successor even when he knew he was dying, if the company ran a lot worse after he passed it would then just add to his legend. 2014-01-20 10:03 am Tony Swash I’m sorry but Jobs was a salesman and a sociopath*, that’s all. Don’t get me wrong, the man could sell ice cream to Eskimos, he should probably be right up there with old PT Barnum as one of the greatest salesmen of all recorded history but at the end of the day he didn’t actually design anything like Woz, write the code like Gates, I think that is childishly simplistic. Leaving aside the creation of Apple V1, NeXT and Pixar surely what Jobs achieved at Apple after 1997 goes a bit beyond mere salesmanship. Here was a company on it’s last legs, haemorrhaging money, sales and talent at a breathtaking pace and universally thought of as a dead man walking. Jobs turned that around, and he didnâ€™t just bring Apple back to life but in little over a decade he turned it into the biggest and most successful tech company on the planet. Anybody with any real experience of large organisations and of leading organisational change will know that it’s very hard to make big organisations change, it’s very hard to develop and implement a long term coherent vision for a big complicated business in a very fast moving market and it’s doubly difficult to do those things in very adverse business circumstances with the vultures circling. The tendency to see Jobs as mere salesman rather than as, for example and more obviously, a stunningly successful CEO of a large organisation and as as product maker of the first order, is I think based on ignorance and a little of fear. The ignorance comes from the fact that a lot of ‘techies’ (an increasingly archaic term) have almost no knowledge of, and little interest, in the actual mechanics of the tech business process. Jobs transformation of Apple’s supply chain and SKU system, for example, or the equally impressive Apple retail apparatus (easily the most successful global retail operation in any sector) barely registers on many techies radar. Techies often seem to see technology as a series of interesting and constantly evolving artefacts that somehow appear magically in the world, the fact that the tech that actually has impact has that impact for reasons mostly to do with corporate management and business design reasons and far less for reasons to do with specifications is something many techs often just donâ€™t register. The fear that Job (and Apple) engenders in techies, which often prompts the rather silly attempts to disparage the achievements of Jobs and his company, is two fold in nature. On the one hand why Jobs was so successful at Apple and why Apple is so successful is actually very mysterious for a lot of techies, They just donâ€™t get it. And in not getting it they feel their position as techies, as holders of special knowledge about technology, is threatened. Apple is very good at marketing but building a premium global brand is about a lot more, a heck of a lot more, than advertising. The business processes behind, for example, designing the iPhone and then actually bringing a supply of it to market in the millions and selling it at a profit, is immensely complicated, very hard to get right and very easy to get wrong (just look at most of the other device OEMs). Jobs built in Apple a business machine that can do that over and over again and the inability of many techies to understand how all that works is fiendishly threatening to a lot of people. Finally of course the fear of Apple by a lot of techies, and the need to belittle Jobs achievements, is founded on the fact that Apple is dedicated to making the techie irrelevant and extinct. Apple wants to make products that work like appliances, that no one need ever tinker with, products that ship with no instructional booklet, that require no advice from experts. Apple havenâ€™t got there yet but they have got a long way down that path. Millions of people buy iPads open the box and just get on using them to do stuff that used to be the reserve of big, complicated and unreliable PCs. The instruction booklet for an iPad is little more than a single sheet of paper with a photo of an iPad and an arrow pointing at the on/off switch. The vast corporate organisation that Jobs built that led to that is pretty scary to a lot of people coming from the old fashioned tech culture born of the age of the PC and so must be belittled and dismissed. I wish a lot of techie discourse was a bit more grown up. 2014-01-20 12:26 pm mistersoft To be honest Tony Swash, do you actually wish for any “techie discourse” at all(?!) given how much of a strong and hearty apple supporter you are, and well….as you yourself exclaim it: “Apple is dedicated to making the techie irrelevant and extinct.” ?? You’re blatantly a little bit of a techie, and Apple have successfully managed to capture you too along with iHoards, plus they have recently introduced their techie wet dream (slight hyperbole intended) in the new Mac Pro super dustbin. They (used) bang on about their “UNIX underpinnings”. They make some great technical/pro level applications. They also have pretty good developer tools, well, esp if you’re not a hater of the lock in or the walled garden.. .I’m certainly no fanboy but I’m happy to give them credit on both an aesthetic and a technical front. As they indeed are techies and consumers alike. The only real and true anti-techie bias from Apple is in their lack of meaningful user manuals..! Beyond that (on this point) I think you’re talking tosh Swash! 2014-01-20 1:41 pm Tony Swash To be honest Tony Swash, do you actually wish for any “techie discourse” at all(?!) given how much of a strong and hearty apple supporter you are, and well….as you yourself exclaim it: ”Apple is dedicated to making the techie irrelevant and extinct.” ?? You’re blatantly a little bit of a techie, I am indeed a bit of a techie, I started with CP/M back in the early 1980s and have used most of the important OS at some time. I love the techie details, I love being the one that knows how to fix things or make them work or carry out an arcane operation. But any technology that aspires to a mass user base and but which requires the end user to be the system integrator is suffering from under developed and probably poor design. Other than the small minority of people like us, people who actually like to know how the tech works and who want to fiddle about with it, most users don’t want to do that. They just want a tool to do a job, it’s the job and the getting of it done that is of interest to ordinary people, the other 99.9%. Beyond the technical details of kit and software (which is not what I come to sites like this for) what really fascinates me is how the tech industry works and where it is going and that has almost nothing to do with the technical details. 2014-01-21 1:57 am mistersoft Other than the small minority of people like us, people who actually like to know how the tech works and who want to fiddle about with it, most users don’t want to do that. They just want a tool to do a job, it’s the job and the getting of it done that is of interest to ordinary people, the other 99.9%. if you went down to 95%, sure I’d completely agree with that. My quibble was primarily with your slightly inflammatory use of the word “dedicated”..! As much as Apple knowingly target both the non-techie crowd along with those techies with a penchant for design/’simplicity’, they don’t seemingly show any disdain for techies either! And “dedicated to making”…”irrelevant and extinct” – if you think over those words for a moment, you surely can’t really agree with that? .and to Testman, I’m not trying to troll thank you – I’m simply making a point as I see it! But thanks for your constructive criticism. A pedant I may be but not a troll 2014-01-20 10:09 pm testman Troll harder 2014-01-21 12:42 am mkone Your post is probably the most well thought out in this thread, but it will be moderated into oblivion. All one has to do on this site is say Jobs” and “salesman” to get kudos. This site has become a bit of an anti-Jobs/anti Apple echo chamber. 2014-01-21 9:24 am tupp Leaving aside the creation of Apple V1, NeXT and Pixar surely what Jobs achieved at Apple after 1997 goes a bit beyond mere salesmanship. Not really. In the first place, “Apple V1” was also Wozniak, and Apple wasn’t doing anything truly remarkable in those days, except bigger marketing (salesmanship) than the several other GUI vendors that preceded Apple. Also, NeXT didn’t really do anything remarkable, and we all know how that company ended up under Jobs’ guidance (even Jobs could not sell such expensive, over-blown boxes). Furthermore, Jobs was really just an investor in Pixar. He wasn’t a filmmaker nor a film distributor — he didn’t know anything about making nor marketing successful films. Under his “leadership,” Pixar was actually going down the tubes just before “Toy Story” was released, and Jobs was even considering bailing. Luckily, “Toy Story” was hugely successful, and it propelled Pixar into a string of other winning films. Jobs had no more to do with Pixar’s success any other studio head/management has to do their film company’s success — films either hit or they don’t. When they do, you can make several more movies, and if one of those hits you are still doing well. Even experienced studio heads who came up through the ranks can’t predict a film’s success. Additionally, everybody has heard the endless stories of how entertainment management continually make huge blunders, yet the majors still thrive in spite of all those errors. Success often just happens in spite of a company’s or product’s faults, and that is precisely what happened with Apple/Jobs. Jobs was certainly driven and he took huge risks, but he was no creative/business genius. The risks that he took could have just as easily led to major failure (and they occasionally did lead to major failure — NeXT, and the many failed and defective Apple products that Jobs pushed through). Consider Mark Zuckerburg. He is one of the most successful people in the tech world, but his success is not due to any particular genius/business acumen on his part — it just happened. Nobody has any way of knowing how to achieve such phenomenal success. Facebook hit people in a favorable/viral way. Of course, now, his company is fading, and there is probably nothing that he can do about it. He was just lucky. Same thing with Bill Gates. When IBM first approached Microsoft to make DOS, Gates told them to go to Digital Systems. Lucky for Gates and Microsoft, Digital turned-down IBM, and IBM came back to Microsoft. That was utter dumb luck. There was no genius on the part of Gates — he originally made a huge blunder in turning away IBM! Just after Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album became the biggest selling album of all time, a reporter asked Quincy Jones (the album’s producer), “How do you make a record that sells 37 million?” Jones replied, “I don’t know how to do THAT. Nobody knows how to do that.” Jones knew that that kind of success just happens. Most of those who deify Jobs probably think that he actually knew how to plan and scheme to become so successful. However, the reality is that things just sometimes happen favorably for a few of those who are around early-on and/or continually in an industry. That is precisely what happened with Jobs — he was no creative/business genius. 2014-01-22 12:18 pm DeadFishMan Furthermore, Jobs was really just an investor in Pixar. He wasn’t a filmmaker nor a film distributor — he didn’t know anything about making nor marketing successful films. Under his “leadership,” Pixar was actually going down the tubes just before “Toy Story” was released, and Jobs was even considering bailing. Luckily, “Toy Story” was hugely successful, and it propelled Pixar into a string of other winning films. Jobs had no more to do with Pixar’s success any other studio head/management has to do their film company’s success — films either hit or they don’t. When they do, you can make several more movies, and if one of those hits you are still doing well. Even experienced studio heads who came up through the ranks can’t predict a film’s success. Additionally, everybody has heard the endless stories of how entertainment management continually make huge blunders, yet the majors still thrive in spite of all those errors. Ditto. I am always baffled when I see people so eager to credit Pixar’s immense success to Jobs when he was basically an investor and joined the studio some time after its debut. If anyone deserves that credit that would be John Lasseter, that having worked on Disney is as much a great artist as a terrific business man. Lasseter is the true genius behind Pixar. I’ll concede however that having someone with clout like Jobs in your board of directors is very likely to attract interest from potential customers so ultimately Pixar did benefit greatly from having him on board. 2014-01-22 7:18 pm mkone Ditto. I am always baffled when I see people so eager to credit Pixar’s immense success to Jobs when he was basically an investor and joined the studio some time after its debut. Yes, this is the reason the guys at Pixar put up a tribute page to him well after he had sold Pixar to Disney. Because he was nothing but a glorified investor! Steve Jobs bought assets off Lucasfilm and founded Pixar. He was the only investor in the beginning. Steve Jobs achieved more than any of us commenting on this article. Probably more than all of us put together with any one of the companies he started. The hate he gets here is astonishing. The guys was not perfect – he had real and well documented flaws. But the guy founded Apple, NeXT and Pixar (yes he founded it – He bought assets from Lucasfilm and started a separate company). All of these companies are still alive in some capacity today. How many people do you know who will start one company as successful as any of the companies Jobs started? How many will start 3? (The only person I can think of off the top of my head is Musk). So yes, he is in rarefied company, and yes, he rightfully shares the credit for Pixar (along with Catmull, Lasseter and Alvy Ray Smith). 2014-01-20 10:15 am siraf72 I agree he wasn’t a particularly nice person. Though by all accounts he mellowed out significantly later in life. Yes he was a brilliant salesman, he managed to sell the original iMac based on a redesign and terrible specs. Convincing people to buy that underpowered machine was an impressive feat. However he was far more than that. He was obsessive about creating a corporate culture that produced and nurtured great ideas. Sony and Disney were corporations he admired and studied greatly. He hated hierarchical bureaucracy and insisted on an environment that fostered an informal exchange of ideas. He focused Apple’s efforts to tremendous effect, beginning with culling it’s massive product line down to 4. Decisions that took other companies months to make would happen in a single meeting at Apple. He was *excellent* at creating highly functional teams. He despised the idea of focus groups believing it was up to companies that hired the highly paid designers and engineers to come up with the ideas, not a room full of randomly selected people. Switching to os X and later to intel were pulled off with fantastic success. He was willing to risk the entire company’s future on a new product (the iPhone). He believed every company should put everything on the line every couple of years to do something new. A man who engineers a complete business turn-around and turns a failing company into the most valuable company on earth (…according to Wall St) cannot just be a good salesman. He left behind a highly efficient company that deigns great products and has phenomenal operational, logistical,and marketing efficiency. The world is full of lofty CEOs that talk a good game. They all run average companies. Jobs for all his glaring faults, created a well oiled machine at Apple. EDIT: And just wanted to add that this all applies to the 2nd coming of Jobs.His first stint was pretty disastrous. And of course, the Woz was pretty frekin amazing. Edited 2014-01-20 10:21 UTC 2014-01-20 12:25 am Tony Swash This is what happens when a businessman is hyped up into the stratosphere and turned into a messiah – other people get marginalised to further deify the supposed hero. Actually this is what happens when someone makes a poor and crass biographical film. I thought Walter Isaacson’s biography was also pretty poor, it had almost nothing to say about what Jobs actually did at Apple after 1997 to achieve such a spectacular turnaround, surely the only big story in a Jobs biography. I hope the new Aaron Sorkin screenplay is better but I fear it may not be. In the end Hollywood and much of popular culture likes to turn stuff like this into a cross between a soap opera and an inspirational tale of personal redemption complete with heroes and villains. What I am interested in is what Jobs did, particularly at Apple after his return, but my interest fades as the years pass since his death. Whatever Jobs did at Apple after 1997 Apple now is what it is and we can only judge the company by what it does. What’s so very interesting in the current period is that the global tech markets seem to be dominated by a handful of giant entities such as Google, Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft all of which have very different corporate cultures, business models and strategies for financial success. And it’s how those big beasts all impact each other and the technologies that we all use that is the really gripping story. All the rest is just fluff. 2014-01-20 3:36 am Soulbender Dude, it’s a Hollywood movie “based on a true story”. What did you expect? That it would be based on a true story? 2014-01-20 6:05 am MOS6510 Man sees movie, complains it was’t real. 2014-01-20 6:11 am kwan_e Man sees movie, complains it was’t real. Some movies claim to be accurate. A lot of people believe movies that claim to be accurate. Like it or not it happens. 2014-01-20 6:15 am MOS6510 I am aware of movies being based on a true story, but none that claim to be accurate. Even if it is meant to be accurate everyone knows it can’t be 100% accurate, leaving the door open for all kinds of lawsuits. “Jobs” was made without any assistance from either Steve so for them to claim it’s “accurate” would be insanely crazy. 2014-01-20 6:22 am kwan_e everyone knows it can’t be 100% accurate I find this even more naive than people who believe the movies Seriously, we already have examples of people willing to believe the cleaned up versions over the real versions of stories, incidentally a lot of them involving Apple and other religions, even before the movie comes out. 2014-01-20 6:27 am MOS6510 Most people are idiots anyway. But it does seem you browse another movie section than me, because I can’t name any Apple/other religion based movie (apart from Macheads and I guess Passion of the Christ), let alone one released to the masses. I do know people who dislike movie/tv serie characters with such a conviction that I feel forced to remind them that they are actors. 2014-01-20 4:54 pm leos Also: “Man is marginalized in movie, man says movie sucks.” Surprise surprise. No idea what the truth is but obviously the guy getting the short end of the stick will complain. Doesn’t mean he’s right. 2014-01-20 5:22 pm MOS6510 I didn’t follow the whole Jobs movie saga, but apparently Woz was asked for input and he declined (as he was inputting another Jobs project). It’s hard to make a movie that’s truthful, let alone truthful and entertaining. But even if all the real characters are involved, hell even if they play themselves in the movie, it won’t give an exact picture of what has happened if only for the failing of our memory. And that’s why I dislike movies that portrait something that has happened, because things never happened the way it is shown yet people tend to believe it has. I understand this and if I were to watch “Jobs” it would feel like watching an alternative reality. It’s not the real thing, not even close. It’s not Jobs, not Woz, not Apple, it’s just a movie with an Apple theme and apparently not a very good movie! 2014-01-21 4:21 am leos Yep, anyone that has been the subject of a news article knows how many mistakes are in the news. A movie that not only needs to tell a story but have that story be actually entertaining is guaranteed to be riddled with inaccuracies no matter how much it is based on reality. 2014-01-21 5:35 am MOS6510 Someone recently told me, “I believe everything I read in the papers, expect stuff I know about”. I guess “news” these days is really the same as “entertainment”. Media doesn’t want to serve the public news, they want to use news as entertainment to sell more ads. And most people probably watch the news to be entertained, not to be informed. 2014-01-20 11:14 pm kwan_e Also: “Man is marginalized in movie, man says movie sucks.” Surprise surprise. No idea what the truth is but obviously the guy getting the short end of the stick will complain. Doesn’t mean he’s right. Wozniak didn’t say the movie sucks. He said the bits involving him were inaccurate. Sounds like you don’t even know who Wozniak is. 2014-01-21 4:19 am leos Also: “Man is marginalized in movie, man says movie sucks.” Surprise surprise. No idea what the truth is but obviously the guy getting the short end of the stick will complain. Doesn’t mean he’s right. Wozniak didn’t say the movie sucks. He said the bits involving him were inaccurate. Sounds like you don’t even know who Wozniak is. Sounds like you totally missed my point. When Woz says that the parts in the movie were a “lie”, he is clearly not happy about it. He’s not happy about how he and his contributions were portrayed. That’s fine and maybe he is completely correct, but just because the guy that was marginalized in the movie doesn’t like it doesn’t mean we should immediately believe him. I just think it’s funny how Thom immediately jumps to siding with Woz even though no one here is in a position to determine who is right. 2014-01-21 5:02 am kwan_e That’s fine and maybe he is completely correct, but just because the guy that was marginalized in the movie doesn’t like it doesn’t mean we should immediately believe him. No, you missed the point. People aren’t siding with Woz because he was marginalized. Whatever the true facts are, Woz’s contribution to Apple are known with sufficient accuracy and have been debated for years before the movie. People side with him because of those discussions and debates. People aren’t siding with Woz just because he was marginalized in a recent movie. So it seems you have no idea who Woz is, otherwise you’d know this whole Woz-or-Jobs thing has been around a lot longer. 2014-01-20 1:43 pm Luke McCarthy The whole business model of Hollywood is selling lies to the public. 2014-01-20 3:57 pm zeos386sx I didn’t know anyone actually uses google+. 2014-01-20 5:24 pm MOS6510 I got rid of it, but every now and then I get an email that someone has added me to their circle. It makes you wonder how many Google+ members even know they are on it. 2014-01-20 6:16 pm Thom Holwerda Sadly, way more people “use” it than we think. Makes me feel very, very bad. 2014-01-20 6:20 pm MOS6510 Why does that make you feel bad? 2014-01-22 1:55 pm RobG Many of us don’t have a choice – it comes bundled with pretty well everything from Goggle nowadays 2014-01-20 7:16 pm ChodaSly Direct link to Steve Wozniak’s review: https://plus.google.com/app/basic/comment/z134d5rwpy2mt5fuy22bjxaorq… 2014-01-20 10:02 pm Yagami but … but … they said it was impossible !!!! (crappy poster still doesnt know how to use the things he rants about) Edited 2014-01-20 22:02 UTC 2014-01-21 6:57 am The1stImmortal Direct link to Steve Wozniak’s review: https://plus.google.com/app/basic/comment/z134d5rwpy2mt5fuy22bjxaorq… It appears you need to have a g+ account and be signed in… 2014-01-20 10:30 pm mkone By all accounts, Wozniak did not set out to change the world. Jobs did. Guess who changed the world? The idea that Jobs needed to be an engineer, brilliant coder or scientist to receive the amount of credit he does is disingenuous as best. The success of Apple and Pixar is strongly correlated with Jobs. Now this is either a coincidence, or it is proof that the man had some talent. Wozniak has had minor, if any success since he left Apple. So it’s fair to say that Jobs was more key to Apple’s success than Wozniak was. 2014-01-21 2:17 am modmans2ndcoming come on…G+ is anything but crappy. 2014-01-24 7:27 am wanker90210 You need both types in a startup, but the geek is always going to do geek things and the business person will sell the company and himself. Similar combo I’d say would be Chuck Peddle and Jack Tramiel. No Chuck, no MOS Technologies (65xx and SID) and no Jack, then no commercial success. But who remembers Peddle now.