Friday, March 2, 2012

Case Study No. 0273: Leslie Berlin and Henry Lowood

Steve Jobs' early career boxed in Stanford's archives
The Stanford Silicon Valley Archives' Apple collection provides a unique window into the early years of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' career. The collection comprises approximately 600 linear feet of documents, photos, videos, hardware and software, making it the largest assortment of Apple-related materials in the world. The archives are overseen by Henry Lowood, curator for history of science and technology collections in the Stanford University Libraries, and Leslie Berlin, project historian.

Read the full Stanford Report story: news/2011/august/ jobs-082911.html

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["Inside the Apple Archive" appears on screen, as the scene opens with an exterior shot of the Cecil H. Green Library]
LESLIE BERLIN: [in voice over] At the Silicon Valley Archives here at Stanford, we have the largest collection of historical documents related to Apple Computers anywhere in the world.
[cut to a still image of the "Online Archive of California" website and its "Guide to the Apple Computer Inc. Records 1977-1998" entry]
LESLIE BERLIN: [in voice over] To understand what we have, you have to understand where it came from, and it came from Apple itself.
[cut to a still image of Henry Lowood looking over some Apple documents]
HENRY LOWOOD: [in voice over] We moved roughly two thousand boxes of material. Once the word got out that we had this core collection of important documentation about Apple, people wanted their materials to be associated with that collection. So we started hearing from former executives, from user groups, from all kinds of people.
[cut to Henry holding a letter]
HENRY LOWOOD: So what we have here is the document from June 1976, from Regis McKenna Advertising. It says, "Steve is young and inexperienced. His system sells for $666.66. Though we moved the quantity into retail distribution, there is as yet no evidence that the retailers are successful in finding customers."
[cut to a still image of the Apple II reference manual (dated January 1978)]
HENRY LOWOOD: [in voice over] We have the original artwork for the Apple I and Apple II manuals.
[cut to a still image of a catalog which shows people wearing Apple t-shirts]
HENRY LOWOOD: [in voice over] We have the Apple t-shirt collection.
[cut to Leslie speaking directly to the camera]
LESLIE BERLIN: Sales records where you can track the sales of a specific computer from sort of single digits to double digits, to quadruple digits to ... you know, tens of thousands of units.
[cut to several black and white photographs of Steve Jobs]
HENRY LOWOOD: [in voice over] We have photographs of Steve Jobs in many meetings. We have photographs of Next Computer from the inside. We have photographs from Apple.
[cut to footage of an old commercial that depicts a proto-tablet computer, with a bar graph that reads "Flemming's Projection"]
MALE VOICE: Where's the rate of deforestation you predicted?
LESLIE BERLIN: [in voice over] We have video of products that were imagined but never produced.
[cut to footage of the famous Apple Super Bowl commercial]
MALE VOICE: A garden of pure ideology!
HENRY LOWOOD: [in voice over] One of the largest segments of the collection are marketing materials. That includes advertising, so we have the original Super Bowl ad.
MALE VOICE: We shall prevail!
[cut to footage of Steve Jobs speaking]
LESLIE BERLIN: [in voice over] We have speeches, final versions, and drafts.
STEVE JOBS: You've just seen some pictures of Macintosh, now I'd like to show you Macintosh in person.
LESLIE BERLIN: [in voice over] These are as it happened. What someone was thinking, not what after years of digesting, they thought. Or how the story has been reshaped in people's memories.
[cut to Steve Jobs giving the commencement address at Stanford University in 2005]
STEVE JOBS: How can you get fired from a company you started?
[cut to Henry speaking directly to the camera]
HENRY LOWOOD: Anyone working on the history of Apple and the principles involved with Apple Computer really have to come to Stanford to do some work.
[cut back to Jobs giving the commencement address]
STEVE JOBS: Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

Video - Steve Fyffe
Stanford University News Service



Stanford Report, August 29, 2011
Record of Steve Jobs' early career lies boxed in Stanford University's Silicon Valley Archives

Steve Jobs sent tremors through the tech world this week by announcing his resignation as Apple's CEO with a succinct letter that carried an implication of health concerns. Jobs has loomed large over the company he founded in 1976, and his departure from daily events at the company marks the end of an era.

"Apple Computer is an iconic company in Silicon Valley," said Henry Lowood, curator for history of science and technology collections in the Stanford University Libraries. "And by iconic I mean that it's more than just historically important. It symbolizes a lot of things that we've come to associate with Silicon Valley."

Steve Jobs, Lowood believes, represents an archetype of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. "And through documentation," Lowood said, "we can piece together these aspects of the history of Apple Computer and inform what we think about the visionary people who led Apple."

A window into Apple

Overseen by Lowood and project historian Leslie Berlin, the Stanford Silicon Valley Archives' Apple collection provides a unique window onto the early years of the Apple epoch. The collection comprises approximately 600 linear feet of documents, photos, videos, hardware and software, making it the largest assortment of Apple-related materials in the world.

Many of these items derive from the company's own archives, including materials originally intended for an official Apple museum. Since the company gifted the collection to the Stanford Libraries in 1997, more than 20 significant collections related to Apple's history have been acquired by the libraries.

"There are a lot of things about Apple that we think we know, but we don't really remember the facts correctly. We have to go back to the documentation to remind ourselves about what actually happened," said Lowood.

A young Steve Jobs

In early images, Steve Jobs cuts a very different figure than he does today. Not only is he startlingly young – he founded Apple at 21 – but his hair is long, and he has a hippie air. As late as 1988, a photo from the Douglas Menuez Photography Collection shows Jobs barefoot at a business meeting.

A 1976 letter to Regis McKenna – the man eventually responsible for launching Apple's corporate identity – describes a colleague's initial meeting with Jobs and fellow Apple founder Steve Wozniak.

"Steve is young and inexperienced," the letter reads. "Though he moved a quantity [of Apple II computers] into retail distribution, there is as yet no evidence that the retailer(s) are successful in find [sic] customers."

Silicon Valley itself had a different atmosphere at the time. "It was a small community – nearly everyone knew each other," said Berlin. When Apple was young, Jobs relied on several pioneers of the previous wave of startups – men like Intel's Andy Grove and Robert Noyce – for advice and mentorship. "It was almost a familial relationship with Noyce," she said. "Jobs would call him at midnight excited by some new idea or question. Noyce complained about it, but he always took the call. He adored Jobs."

Apple didn't stay unknown for long. Handwritten financial records from the time of the Apple II's unveiling show low initial sales. A few weeks later, the numbers shot up.

The first fan club

Hard on the heels of sales were the corporate groupies that have become a defining aspect of Apple's image. Stanford Libraries' Special Collections department contains the archives of Washington Apple Pi, the largest and most significant Apple user group, founded two years after the Apple II's release.

As Lowood said, "Apple has had fanatical users for quite some time now."

And the archives also serve as a reminder that, as with other companies whose images seemed tied to individuals, Jobs and Apple are not inseparable. The collection's materials document Apple's 1985 ouster of Jobs, as well as his 1997 return as interim CEO. The Menuez photos include extensive shots from the launch of NeXT Inc., the computing company Jobs founded in the interim.

"People think of these companies in a personal way, because they've been so identified with their founders," said Berlin. "I think that this has been very useful in terms of making the companies accessible, understood and often loved by consumers. But it hasn't limited them: When these founders have needed to leave, they've left, and the companies have continued on."

The Apple materials are accompanied by more than 300 other Silicon Valley Archives collections.

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