BOSTON — With the loss of Steve Jobs, we have our own remembrance of him, in a superb WGBH interview from 1990. It's from a series called The Machine That Changed The World, a BBC-TV/WGBH Boston Co-Production. In it, Jobs talks about how that revolutionary device, the Macintosh personal computer, came to be and the particular gifts of the people who made it.
Here are some excerpts from the extended interview with Steve Jobs conducted for that series:
Steve Jobs: "I think the Macintosh was created by a group of people who felt that there wasn't a strict division between science and art. Or in other words, that mathematics is really a liberal art if you look at it from a slightly different point of view. And why can't we interject typography into computers. Why can't we have computers talking to us in English language? And looking back, five years later, this seems like a trivial observation. But at the time it was cataclysmic in its consequences. And the battles that were fought to push this point of view out the door were very large."
Jobs talked about the people on his design team and what they were like.
Jobs: "My observation is that the doers are the major thinkers. The people that really create the things that change this industry are both the 'thinker-doer' in one person. And if we really go back and we examine, did Leonardo [da Vinci] have a guy off to the side that was thinking five years out in the future what he would paint or the technology he would use to paint it? Of course not. Leonardo was the artist but he also mixed all his own paints. He also was a fairly good chemist. He knew about pigments, knew about human anatomy. And combining all of those skills together, the art and the science, the thinking and the doing, was the exceptional result."
"And there is no difference in our industry. It's very easy to say, 'oh I thought of this three years ago.' But usually when you dig a little deeper, you find that the people that really did it were also the people that really worked through the hard intellectual problems as well."
On Feb. 10, 1982, the Mac design group had a small party. Along with their cake and champagne, they each signed a large sheet of paper. Jobs had those signatures copied and engraved into the mold for the Macintosh case.
Another frame of Steve Jobs in his 1990 WGBH interview. (via WGBH Open Vault)
Jobs: "The people that worked on it consider themselves and I certainly consider them artists. These are the people that under different circumstances would be painters and poets but because of the time that we live in this new medium has appeared, in which to express one's self to one's fellow species and that's a medium of computing and so a lot of people that would have been artists and scientists have gone into this field to express their feeling, so it seemed like the right thing to do."
If you're the owner of a Mac128K, 512K, or Macintosh Plus, they signed your computer, too. When the new machine was presented at a shareholders meeting in early 1984, the design team was there.
Jobs: "The first few rows had all the people that worked on the Mac. About a 150 people that really made it happen were all seated in the first few rows and when it was introduced, after we went through it all and had the computer speak to people itself and things like that, the whole auditorium of about twenty five hundred people gave it a standing ovation and the whole first few rows of Mac folks were all just crying. All of us were. I was biting my tongue very hard because I had a little bit more to do. But it was a very, very emotional moment because it was no longer ours. From that day forward it was no longer ours. We couldn't change it. If we had a good idea the following day it was too late. It belonged to the world at that point in time."
By Elizabeth Dean | Thursday, June 13, 2013
Gay and Lesbian Pride Month is here—arriving just weeks after NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay in a widely praised Sports Illustrated essay. Next month, Delaware will become the 11th state in the country along with the District of Columbia to allow same-sex marriages. With the majority of Americans now supporting gay marriage, it’s easy to forget the barriers and battles of just a few decades ago. Our video this month takes you back to the gritty streets of 1970s Boston, an era when it was unthinkable that an openly gay politician could run for public office…and win.
Elaine Noble took her seat in the Massachusetts Legislature in 1975, representing Boston’s Fenway and Back Bay neighborhoods. It was less than five years after New York’s Stonewall Riots and three years before gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was shot to death in City Hall.
Noble put herself—and possibly her life—on the line when she ran, and she lived with threats and harassment that she expected would only increase when the WGBH documentary A Woman’s Place Is in the House: A Portrait of Elaine Noble aired. She was the first openly gay candidate in the country to win a state office—but as you’ll see, her focus was on helping her constituents.
When she is asked on election night what the moment means to her, she deflects the expectation that she’ll say it’s a victory for the gay and lesbian community. “It means I have a job,” she says in the film, smiling. And the first thing she’ll do? Call her mother.
Noble was determined not to be a one-issue candidate, and you’ll see that she has a remarkable ability to connect with people on district problems large and small, and a desire to help that comes from the heart. Her trailblazing role put her in the national spotlight, and calls for help came from people—many closeted and feeling isolated—from as far away as California. There were threatening calls as well, often in the middle of the night, and Noble’s car was vandalized.
Even within the women’s movement, she had to fight for gay rights. In the film, Noble refuses to accept a speaking invitation from the National Organization for Women unless NOW publicly apologizes to her and her gay sisters for its attempt a few years earlier to distance NOW from lesbian causes. (NOW founder Betty Friedan and others were concerned that being linked to lesbians politically would weaken their cause.)
For Noble, this was not only political; it was intensely personal. She was then living with the feminist novelist Rita Mae Brown, whom you meet in the film. Brown had resigned her job at NOW in 1970 over this issue.
Noble and Brown parted ways in 1976. “Rita couldn’t take it [the harassment] any more,” Noble told me in a recent interview, “and I don’t blame her.”
Noble served for two terms, but when redistricting would have forced her to run against her friend Barney Frank in 1978, she declined to enter the race. After an unsuccessful run for the US Senate, she eventually left public life. She was exhausted, she told me, and ready for a quieter time.
She’s retired now and living with her partner in the Florida panhandle—“another adventure,” she says. She is a substitute teacher (“teaching was my first love”), sells real estate, and rides her beloved horses. She’s starting to write about her experience in the movement, but insists she was just “part of the Conga line” that moved the issue forward. “You do what you can and then move on.”
As for the WGBH film, she looks back on it with pride, though threats against her escalated after its broadcast, as she feared. “[Producer] Nancy Porter and [associate producer] Rebecca Eaton made me feel comfortable,” she says. “I never felt a hidden agenda.” Thinking back on her younger self, she adds, slightly ruefully, that she’s “a little more guarded now.”
The sea changes of recent years on gay issues have brought her great happiness, as well as deep gratitude to those who supported her, including Barney Frank’s sister Ann Lewis, who encouraged her to run all those years ago. No doubt Noble would get a good laugh from Frank’s recent quip about his marriage in 2012 to his longtime partner Jim Ready: “As I left office, it struck me that my marriage to Jim was more socially acceptable than my being a congressman.”
Elizabeth Deane is a longtime producer and writer for WGBH
On their first US tour in 1964, the Rolling Stones made a pilgrimage to Chicago. “2120 South Michigan Avenue was hallowed ground,” writes Keith Richards in his 2010 autobiography. “There in the perfect sound studio, in the room where everything we’d listened to was made…we recorded fourteen tracks in two days. One of them was… ‘It’s All Over Now,’ our first number one hit.”
Brothers Phil and Leonard Chess were cigar-chomping, old-school record men who started out in the liquor business in Chicago. They produced mostly jazz, but took a chance on a rough blues singer from Mississippi called Muddy Waters. The raw country blues of Waters’s “I Can’t Be Satisfed” was the hit that put the Chess brothers and their studio on the map.
Leonard Chess died in 1969, but his son, Marshall, and Phil sat for an interview with WGBH in 1994.
“Waters’s recording is remembered as the first masterpiece of electric Chicago blues,” says music historian Elijah Wald. Chess Records followed with records by Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf, as well as Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
These were the saints in the church of the blues, and among their most ardent admirers were two teenagers from the UK, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. They were childhood friends who reconnected in the Dartford railroad station when Richards spotted the Chess records that Jagger was carrying under his arm.
“This cat’s together and he’s got the best of Muddy Waters and ‘Rocking at The Hop’ by Chuck Berry under his arm,” says Richards, who recalls the encounter in Rock & Roll. “‘Hey man, nice to see you, but where did you get the records?’”
Long before American teenagers caught on to it, a generation of young Brits had been captured by the sound of authentic American blues. But the records were hard to come by, “coveted keys to a mysterious, faraway world,” as music historian Wald describes them. Jagger had ordered his by mail from Chicago.
With fellow blues-lovers Brian Jones, Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts, Jagger and Richards formed a band and named it after a Muddy Waters song, “Rollin’ Stone.” Rock & Roll includes the text of a letter Jones wrote to the BBC in January 1963, asking for airtime, in which he articulated the group’s philosophy: “The band’s policy is to play authentic Chicago rhythm and blues music, using outstanding exponents of the music such as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, etc.”
The BBC turned them down on the basis that their singer sounded too black.
In 1964, the Stones and the Animals brought the sound of the British blues to the US, and the Stones made their pilgrimage to Chess. Marshall, then 22, had a sense of what to expect, but Phil and Leonard were baffled.
“My brother looked at me and I looked up and said, ‘Who are they?’” Phil says. “They looked like freaks.”
Phil and Leonard were not alone. “I’ll tell you in Chicago in the heart of the Midwest, we hadn’t seen people who looked [and] acted like the Rolling Stones,” Marshall says. “Their hair, the way they looked. They…were drinking hard liquor out of the bottle. That wasn’t really happening very big in Chicago at that time.”
Still, the sessions were a success. “They wanted the Chess sound…to be exactly like the originals,” Marshall says in our video clip. “But it came out like the Rolling Stones, which was great.”
Elizabeth Deane was the creator and executive producer of the 10-part, Peabody Award–winning series “Rock & Roll.” She says about the experience, "Like many viewers, I brought a general knowledge of rock history to the project, but it’s interviews like this one, produced by Dan McCabe and Vicky Bippart, that deepened our treatment of the music and set the series apart from other rock histories. We focused on the innovators — the people who changed the music — not only artists but also producers, songwriters, studio engineers and session musicians. The series premiere in 1995 was a big event for WGBH and our partners at the BBC, who produced five of the shows; we’re proud to have this opportunity to show off this rock 'n' roll gem from the archives."
The licensing rights to the epic 10-part series (1995) have lapsed; however, WGBH Archives has a small grant from the Grammy Foundation to preserve the uncut interviews for the five programs produced by WGBH.
Open Vault is the WGBH Media Library and Archives (MLA) website of unique and historically important content produced by WGBH's public television and radio stations. It provides online access to video, audio, images, searchable transcripts, and resource management tools —available for individual and classroom learning. Learn more: openvault.wgbh.org.
About the Authors
Bob Seay Bob Seay is the host of NPR's Morning Edition on 89.7FM WGBH Radio. He got his start in radio during college at WMUH, got involved with WGBH TV while in graduate school at Boston University and formerly hosted ME at WRNI in Rhode Island. Elizabeth Deane Elizabeth Deane is a longtime producer and writer for WGBH Boston.