Stanford Archives Document the Early Career of Steve Jobs and Apple

Stanford University's Silicon Valley Archives document Apple, and those who shaped it, from its founding in 1976 to the present.

Editor’s Note: Attached is a video produced by Stanford University on Steve Jobs’ early career, as found at the Silicon Valley Archives.

Most people know an image of Steve Jobs in his signature black turtleneck and wire-rimmed glasses. But probably not so many have seen a 1988 snapshot of Jobs leading a business meeting barefoot, long hair draped around his face.

Such fresh-faced images are found at Stanford University’s Silicon Valley Archives, which document the life and times of Apple and its famous founder. The collection has been around since Apple donated its initial objects in 1997. Yet renewed interest has been drawn to it since Jobs stepped down as CEO last Wednesday, said project historian Leslie Berlin.

The archives, available for viewing by appointment, comprise the largest assortment of Apple materials in the world. Encased in 600 linear feet are a slew of documents, photos, videos, hardware and software from Apple’s founding in 1976 through today.

They include Making the Macintosh and the Douglas Menuez Photo Gallery, which contains many black-and-white portraits of a young, bright-eyed Jobs.

“When it comes to really understanding what happened in the past, there’s nothing better than these primary documents,” said Berlin, pointing out that the archives contain many pieces of internal correspondence from the early days of Apple.

In a 1976 letter to Regis McKenna, who designed Apple's logo, a colleague describes his initial impressions of Jobs and co-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."

The collection also documents Apple's 1985 ouster of Jobs, as well as his 1997 return as interim CEO. The launch of NeXT Inc., the computing company Jobs founded in the interim, is also documented in photos.

"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, in a press release about the collection. "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."


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