To Steven Jobs on His Thirtieth Birthday

By  |  Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 5:56 pm

On February 24th 1985, Steve Jobs turned thirty. His Apple coworkers helped him celebrate by creating a short film for him. They set it to the wonderful song “My Back Pages” by one of Steve’s idols, Bob Dylan, and filled it with images from Jobs’ first three decades. You know some of them, but only some. And they include many ones of a happy, relaxed, even silly Steve Jobs that most of us never got to see.

And here it is. The tribute must have been deeply moving for Steve and his colleagues at the time it was made, and if you can watch it today without getting at least very slightly emotional–particularly as you listen to Dylan’s lyrics–you’re reading the wrong blog.

For a film that doesn’t include NexT, Pixar, the iMac, the Apple Store, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, or the iPad, it does a remarkable job of summing up Steve Jobs; I don’t think a film that did tell the story that was yet to unfold could have improved on it.

The film includes so many memorable items I’d never seen before that I’m not even going to try to account for all of them, but I particularly like the boyhood photos, the ones of Jobs with Ella Fitzgerald, and the ending–presumably from an in-house video–with Steve as FDR. And I was happy to see a photo of Eliot Hall at Reed College, an institution which appears to have meant an awful lot to Jobs considering that he dropped out after one semester. (It means a lot to me, too: My dad taught there.)

“For the first thirty years of your life, you make your habits,” says the Hindu proverb at the start of the film. “For the last thirty years of your life, your habits make you.” It will be forever sad that Jobs only got a total of fifty-six years on earth, but boy, did he pack a lot of living into them. And his habits didn’t just make him: They changed our world.

Many thanks to Craig Elliott–Apple employee 8128, who worked there from 1985-1996–for sharing this gem, and to his fellow Apple veteran Tom Hughes for telling me about it.

 
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30 Comments For This Post

  1. ejmaffei Says:

    Touching and heartwrenching.

    Were the Ella Fitzgerald photos from the Comdex Lotus Jazz event?

  2. Anna Isgro Says:

    I love this film! God bless Steve Jobs with sweet Peace in the afterlife and may Christ Jesus show compassion and mercy on his soul and reward him for all the input Steve gave to humanity. REST IN PEACE.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    I don’t know for sure–but Ella sang at a birthday party for Steve.

  4. ejmaffei Says:

    I remember there was a very prominent, wonderful jazz performer at the Las Vegas Autumn Comdex shindig. Was it November 1984?. It was thrown by Apple and Lotus for Jazz in an old LV Airport hangar. I simply can't recall if it was her — I was still wet behind the ears and too enthralled from having just met Steve.

    So, perhaps the Ella photos are from the LV event; they would've had to been taken prior to his birthday in order to be included in the film.

  5. Keith Says:

    Rock on, Steve.

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    They might well be from another event: If Ella sang at Steve's thirtieth birthday, you'd think it wouldn't be in a video made for that birthday…

  7. Ross Says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing such a personal film. As many of us are reflecting on the life of a man that we never had a chance to meet we can't help but want to know more about the person that we have looked up to for so long. We will never forget you Steve.

  8. David Says:

    Please, don't. He was a Buddhist, respect his choice.

  9. Sarah Says:

    Thanks for sharing this video. It's very touching. I am deeply moved.

  10. person287 Says:

    Serious question, does anybody know what Buddhists believe the time it takes to be reincarnated?

  11. persinnh Says:

    I think that Anna has freedom of speech. Please, respect HER choice.

  12. Michael Says:

    That's beautiful.. Thanks

  13. nickeditor Says:

    Thank's to Craig Elliott for the video

    Can you upload the video with a higher resolution and remove the fields?

    Regards

  14. David Needle Says:

    Good stuff Harry, glad you posted this — yet another side(s) of Steve.

  15. Tim F. Says:

    The Bardo can last, at most, 49 (7 x 7) days.

  16. soopermexican Says:

    what's with the "co-worker" label? wouldn't they have been his employees at this point? In any case.. it just makes it that much more poignant.

  17. Roger Says:

    It's not that she can't, it's that she shouldn't right now.

  18. Graeme Says:

    Have been feeling sad ever since I learnt of Steve’s death (on my iPhone), but watching this has made now made me cry.

    In 1986, when I was 12 years old I won an Apple //c for myself and my school from Apple and have been an Apple fan ever since. I learnt Basic on the //c, and later studied programming at school and University. Became a web developer and had fun in the IT industry before starting my own small business. My life would probably have been very different without that //c.

    Steve Jobs and Apple changed my life, and the lives of many others in so many ways it is hard to think of the world without what he brought to it.

    RIP Steve Jobs.

  19. Antonio Says:

    Made me shed a tear

  20. persinnh Says:

    Whoa. I am sorry. We had a little missunderstanding. If you dont believe me go to my blog
    allabootgeeks.blogspot.com
    I thought you were talking about not letting her speak. I am sorry. But yeah i agree. Not the time and place to be dOing that

  21. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Respect Anna.

  22. Harry McCracken Says:

    Well, employees are co-workers. But one thing people forget about Jobs’ first time at Apple was that he wasn’t the head of the company. John Sculley was CEO at the time the video was made.

  23. Padmasambhava Says:

    Pure poetry. Like Steve’s life itself. To those who have ears for it

  24. larzze Says:

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  30. office design Says:

    Well, it seems I have to define a lot of good habits before I turn thirty. I can't get away with the excuse "I'm on my way to change the world", I should have already done it:-)

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