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Steve Jobs's story of the stones

Steve Sande, @stevensande
November 11, 2011
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Next week, Landmark Theaters in 19 US cities will screen a 70-minute "lost interview" featuring Steve Jobs. The interview was done in 1996 by Robert X. Cringely for his PBS series "Triumph of the Nerds" and is being released in unedited form as Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview.

Philip Elmer-Dewitt, writing for Fortune, said that his favorite section of the interview is when Jobs answers the question "What's important to you in the development of a product?". His response features a scathing blow to John Sculley -- "John Sculley got a very serious disease. It's the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work" -- as well as a sweet parable about the process of designing a product.

In the interview, Jobs reminisces about an old man who lived down the street when he was a young boy. The man showed him a rock tumbler, and he and Jobs went out and got a handful of plain old rocks, then put them into the can with liquid and grit powder. They closed up the rock tumbler, turned it on, and then the man told Jobs to "come back tomorrow."

The next day, the man opened the can and inside were these "amazingly beautiful polished rocks. The same common stones that had gone in through rubbing against each other like this (clapping his hands), creating a little bit of friction, creating a little bit of noise, had come out these beautiful polished rocks."

Jobs goes on to say how that is a "metaphor for a team that is working really hard on something they're passionate about. It's that through the team, through that group of incredibly talented people bumping up against each other, having arguments, having fights sometimes, making some noise, and working together they polish each other and they polish the ideas, and what comes out are these beautiful stones."

The interview will only be shown for two days in the US, so be sure to get your pre-sale tickets now. The theatrical trailer for the interview can be viewed below.

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