updated 06:16 am EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Mid-80s film chronicles create of NeXT
A little-seen documentary focusing on Steve Jobs in the mid-80s, after his departure from Apple and during the period when he was building NeXT, has been posted to YouTube by the original filmmaker. The film (called Steve Jobs: Keeper of the Vision) covers the areas of building the company that Jobs thought important, including the creation of the NeXT logo, mission statement and how the company was run. The 20-minute film covers only the first six months of NeXT's existence, and shows the company in its formative stages.
The film begins with Jobs picking carrots in a field -- the kind of work he did in the years before Apple -- before moving on to the unveiling of the NeXT logo, with designer Paul Rand presenting it to Jobs and the early team. Observers will recognize a few faces in the NeXT team -- quite a few of whom followed Jobs from Apple, others who were recruited -- who followed Jobs again when he returned to Apple.
Jobs speaks in an interview segment about his vision for the company, which is to do for educational institutions what he had done at Apple for consumers -- make higher technology more affordable. A section shows the first retreat meeting where the company is laying out its goals and priorities, an inside look into how Jobs led and cajoled his team into setting the bar very high and working hard to achieve as much of it as possible.
The film clearly sets Jobs as its center, but also shows some of the frustrations of working for him and the often-difficult goals he would set. In the documentary, the fledgling company sees that it has tight deadlines and money problems along with the usual issues facing start-ups. In a final interview segment, Jobs talks about what drives him to try and bottle lightning a second time, and where that drive came from: seeing children using the Apple II and realizing that ideas can take form and grow and "change the world" in significant ways.
The film feels unfinished, and does not see the company through to shipping its first project. In it, however, Jobs defines his role as "the keeper of the vision" -- reminding and reinforcing the core principles of the company that are often lost when the work becomes difficult and goals seem distant