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."
On their ?rst 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 ?rst number one hit.”
This month from the Vault: Chess Records, the Chicago Blues, and the Rolling Stones
Producers of Rock & Roll, the acclaimed 10-part WGBH and BBC co-production from 1995, sought out the founders of Chess Records, the men behind the “hallowed ground” so reverently described by Richards, for an episode on the electric blues and the 1960s British Invasion.
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 Satis?ed” 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, a portion of which we feature here.
“Waters’s recording is remembered as the ?rst 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 baf?ed.
“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.”
Watch the whole interview with Marshall and Phil on openvault.wgbh.org. Find the Stones’ instrumental salute to Chess, “2120 Michigan Avenue,” on iTunes.
By Elizabeth Deane | Tuesday, July 17, 2012
July 17, 2012
Although we're in the midst of summer, we’ll try not to get sand in the massive hinges of the WGBH vault as we open up a terrific interview from the 1995 PBS series “Rock & Roll.” It’ll take you back to the early days of surf music, that massive guitar-driven sound that reverberates all the way down through heavy metal, and the unforgettable theme under the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s film "Pulp Fiction." The Beach Boys may have surpassed this artist in popularity, but he alone bears the title "King of the Surf Guitar."
This Month's From the Vault: An interview with Dick Dale
Three selected clips from the original WGBH interview with Dick Dale for the award-winning series "Rock & Roll."
You’ll see immediately that Dick Dale isn’t anywhere near the surf in this interview. He’s in the California desert, where he raised lions and tigers. (Really.) But he has his custom Fender in hand throughout the discussion, and some of his demos take you straight to the beach, as he shows in one clip how the sounds of surfing influenced his music. Watch also for the moment when he talks about drummer Gene Krupa’s influence on his technique, and his demonstration of the way the sound of his lions turns up in his music as well.
In the last clip, Dale talks about the origin of his legendary version of the song "Misirlou." Bostonians might be surprised to learn where he first heard the tune that would become the theme song for "Pulp Fiction."
Finally, near the end of the full interview, let Dick Dale take you back to his days as a surfing god and guitar hero in Southern California:
There was times I’d get out of the water … and everybody’s inside, like at the Huntington Beach Pavilion … and I’d come running up the stairs with my surfboard, still in my trunks … [I’d get] behind the stage, towel off, put on a T-shirt and I still had my trunks on. I’d be in my bare feet and I’d be playing my guitar on stage.
Today Dale, now 75 and a cancer survivor, is still on stage playing. He’s been touring since April and will be performing this week in Massachusetts.
Listen to Dick Dale talk about growing up in Quincy and his annual visit to Mass. on 89.7 WGBH Radio's Morning Edition.
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, like Dick Dale — 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.
By Ted Canova | Wednesday, April 11, 2012
April 12, 2012
BOSTON — For most of us, "60 Minutes" was appointment television in a time before 700 channels, Tivo and endless reruns. When news reached me of Mike Wallace's death, it took me back to the days when you actually had to get up to change the channel. It also took me back to the night I appeared in a "60 Minutes" story, ever so briefly.
Wallace was a merciless interviewer. On Sundays we'd see him confront a newsmaker. On Mondays, we'd all talk about it. But for all the ambushes, the pointed follow-up questions and the celebrity interviews, Wallace was a big believer and a strong advocate for making you, the news consumer, more responsible.
His death led us into the WGBH Vault, a climate-controlled room where thousands of archives are carefully stored. It is here where our team found a 1970 seminar at MIT in Cambridge. The topic centered on television news, which was still in its infancy. So the audience was suspect and ready to take on Wallace as if he were the spokesman for the entire industry.
Mike Wallace at MIT
"Catering" to short-term sensation
"Do you really think that in fact the profit motive of exactly appealing to your audience isn't accelerating, isn't teaching people to have a shorter time span, and to want more sensational things?" one attendee said. "Aren't you really reversing all the things that people learn from kindergarten to 12th grade about how to really appreciate complex issues by your catering to the sensational short-term, let's-do-this-and-move-on-to-another-thing type news broadcast?"
Wallace said television news was "getting better" but admitted, "We err sometimes, still."
At the time, the country was in the middle of the Vietnam War and college campuses were the focal point of anti-war rallies against President Richard Nixon and Vice President Agnew. Television news was getting battered from both sides, as Wallace noted, referencing a disparaging comment recently made by the vice president.
"I could hardly believe I would have to come to Cambridge to find so many allies of Spiro Agnew," Wallace retorted. "In three separate seminars today, it's become painfully obvious to me that the MIT community looks askance at television news just about as much as Agnew does, although for different reasons."
Wallace responds to the critique
Long before personal computers, cellphones and "apps," Wallace knew the audience's attention span was pivotal.
"If we in broadcasting fail at the mass communication of complicated issues, and I think we should plead guilty, we fail because first of all, the attention span of our viewers is probably minute," Wallace said. "If we delve too deeply, or linger too long on something difficult, we lose our audience — the ratings prove it. Second … there is almost no chance to savor and test an idea before another proposition has replaced it on the tube. And finally the average viewer or listener finds so many issues so overwhelmingly complicated to begin with that he despairs of understanding them anyway and says to hell with it and settles for a movie or a paperback whodunit or an episode of 'Mission Impossible.'"
But the audience isn't off the hook
In the WGBH Archives, I'm struck by the give-and-take, Wallace's comments and audience laughter, and think of a simpler time in journalism. But whether it was 1970 or throughout his career, Wallace always believed that you, the audience, held a powerful responsibility.
"We can sketch the outlines of the story. We can convey its feel. We can get the citizen involved, whet his interest, make him want to know more," he said. But for the complications and intricacies, the viewer would have to go deeper, "to the newspapers and journals, to the magazines and books, to public conversations and to private thinking — and in the final analysis, of course, that’s where he must go: to himself."
Wallace added, "It's hard work to learn about complicated issues. It is easier to pin the tail on the mass media for failing to keep us informed than to suggest that we ourselves lack the discipline to inform ourselves."
Which gets me back to my flash frame on a "60 Minutes" broadcast — when Wallace became interested in a situation that followed when my television station delved into complicated issues on the air.
In 1996, after a year's worth of work by top-notch, respected journalists, my station aired an investigative series on Northwest Airlines detailing safety issues, sizable fines and a culture that prevented employees from coming forward. We also had whistleblowers (something that, coincidentally, Wallace would come to know in his controversial story on big tobacco).
To this day, I believe Northwest knew the story would hold up in court. So instead of staging a legal battle, the airline filed a grievance with a public watchdog group called the Minnesota News Council. Its criticism of our investigation was lengthy; our defense was equally thorough. The result was a very public airing of journalism standards, tactics and techniques in newsgathering. We didn't stand a chance.
Over the years, I had testified before the council and defended news stories. But this case was different. Wallace was advocating for a national news council, where aggrieved subjects could take their case before a similar group. So when Northwest filed a complaint, Wallace came to town and "60 Minutes" covered it. Sunday night. Appointment TV.
A Wallace effect?
There was plenty of intrigue before and after the council ruled against the story. Did the glare of "60 Minutes" impact the council's decision? Was my station being held to a higher standard? How would Wallace's own, famously aggressive newsgathering tactics hold up in front of an ad hoc panel of former newspaper people and community members? Not well, I bet.
When the council ruled, there was celebration at the airline and a chilling effect in our newsroom. We realized that a news story could win in the courtroom but lose in the court of public opinion. The next night, my station won an Emmy for the Northwest investigation.
In subsequent years, instead of ignoring News Council complaints as my competitors did, I returned to the lion's den to defend more stories — none of which, I believe, we won. But it was important to face this "jury" even if its decisions seemed off the mark. The News Council disbanded in 2011 after 41 years.
Mike Wallace's passing could be the end of a conversation about journalism standards and the public's role. Or it could be a fresh start.
I'd like to know what you think. Tell me in the comments or email your thoughts to email@example.com.
Ted Canova is the executive editor for news at WGBH Radio.
On March 18, author John Updike would have turned 80. Most famous for his Harry "Rabbit" Angstron series of novels, Updike died in 2009. In this 1978 interview clip from WGBH's Open Vault, Updike tells reporter China Altman he secretly wished to be a cartoonist.
See the full 30-minute conversation on WGBH Open Vault, where Upike reads from his work and tells stories about growing up in Pennsylvania, life at Harvard, working at the New Yorker and how he developed the writing habits which enabled him to produce a book a year.
Updike lived his final years in Massachusetts. Read more of his biography.
About Inside the WGBH Open Vault
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.