A video from 1994 that has purportedly never been seen by a mass audience before features a bushy-bearded Steve Jobs discussing his legacy during his so-called NeXT wilderness years. And surprisingly, the egocentric and charismatic founder of Apple believes that in two hundred years, he will be forgotten.
Originally interviewed by the Silicon Valley Historical Association and only recently uploaded to YouTube, Steve Jobs is very skeptical that he will be remembered by history:
By the time I’m fifty, everything I’ve done up until now will be obsolete… This is a field where one does not write a principia which holds up for two hundred years. This is not a field where one paints a painting that people look at for centuries, or build a church that will be admired and looked at in admiration for centuries.
Of course, you can argue that Apple has built its own kind of church, but Steve is talking in the larger historical perspective. He instead views his role as like putting another small layer of sediment on a pile to eventually build a mountain: some rare geologist of the future might see his fingerprints upon the mountain, but otherwise, his contribution will be forgotten.
I think I speak for most of us when I say that it’s hard to believe Steve Jobs’ name won’t be front and center in the history books of the future. This is a rare example of Steve Jobs underestimating his own importance.