Steve Jobs Retrospective: On his 30th Birthday

On February 24, 1985, Steve Jobs turned thirty. His Apple coworkers helped him celebrate by creating a short film for him. They set it to the wonderful song “My Back Pages” by one of Steve’s idols, Bob Dylan, and filled it with images from Jobs’ first three decades. You know some of them, but only some. And they include many ones of a happy, relaxed, even silly Steve Jobs that most of us never got to see.

And here it is. The tribute must have been deeply moving for Steve and his colleagues at the time it was made, and if you can watch it today without getting at least very slightly emotional -- particularly as you listen to Dylan’s lyrics -- you’re reading the wrong blog.

For a film that doesn’t include NexT, Pixar, the iMac, the Apple Store, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, or the iPad, it does a remarkable job of summing up Steve Jobs; I don’t think a film that did tell the story that was yet to unfold could have improved on it. (See also "Steve Jobs in Pictures.")

The film includes so many memorable items I’d never seen before that I’m not even going to try to account for all of them, but I particularly like the boyhood photos, the ones of Jobs with Ella Fitzgerald, and the ending -- presumably from an in-house video -- with Steve as FDR. And I was happy to see a photo of Eliot Hall at Reed College, an institution which appears to have meant an awful lot to Jobs considering that he dropped out after one semester. (It means a lot to me, too: My dad taught there.)

“For the first thirty years of your life, you make your habits,” says the Hindu proverb at the start of the film. “For the last thirty years of your life, your habits make you.” It will be forever sad that Jobs only got a total of fifty-six years on earth, but boy, did he pack a lot of living into them. And his habits didn’t just make him: They changed our world.

Many thanks to Craig Elliott -- Apple employee 8128, who worked there from 1985-1996 -- for sharing this gem, and to his fellow Apple veteran Tom Hughes for telling me about it.

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