After the sad passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs in October, crowds gathered outside stores leaving half-bitten apples and messages of condolence as a way of showing their respect for one of greatest technological visionaries the world has ever seen. This documentary explores the life of the late great Jobs, delving into the journey of a man who started as a Bob Dylan-loving hippy – selling computers in his parent’s garage – to a man said to be worth around seven billion dollars at the time of his death.
Born in 1955 in Santa Clara Valley California, Jobs grew up caught between two worlds: the ideology of the counter-culture hippy, and the growing rise of the computer movement. Ultimately, he found a way to combine the two, appearing to use the philosophical beliefs that he held so dear, at the heart of his technological aim.
Steve Jobs: Million Dollar Hippy attempts to take a sinister tone at times; there are tales of LSD taking, ‘ruthless streaks’ and less than truthful declarations of why he started one of the biggest companies in history. In an interview shown he claimed that the reason he started making computers was for his own and friends’ personal use. ‘Pulled into business’, he once said. In contrast, co-founder Steve Wozniak suggests a less idealistic reality, claiming that Jobs often cited philosophical endeavours rather than the truth, which was perhaps a more profit-lead mindset.
The effort to try and ‘uncover’ something hidden about Steve Jobs seems to eventually fall flat as the programme continues. It is interesting to note that despite common perception, Jobs did not in fact invent any of the technology he became so famous for. With access to Xeroc PARC (‘a storehouse of ideas’ which began back in the eighties) we learn how he was blown away by the early prototype of the mouse, and with the help of inventors, took such ideas and moulded them into the Apple ‘insanely great’ approach. Oddly, the stories of a man who lived in an apartment with barely any furniture because of a disregard for material possessions, seem to contradict with the documentary’s other accounts of a more money-driven man.
Regardless of this unclear tone, what the viewer is really left with is just how innovative and visionary Steve Jobs was. With the release of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, the last ten years has seen the Apple brand go from solely a computer-based company, to a mini music industry in its own right, to a full-blown lifestyle choice.
Behind this phenomenon, there is no doubt that Jobs and his love for the ‘beauty of simplicity’ is where it all began. It is undoubtedly this genius which will be his – and indeed Apple’s – lasting legacy.