In 1996, just before Steve Jobs returned to Apple and made it the business-school case-study success story it is today, the biggest thing in Jobs' life was Pixar, which had recently launched Toy Story. He also had NeXT, which wasn't the world-changing computer company Jobs wished it would be.
Jobs appeared on PBS' Wall $treet Week program with Louis Rukeyser who first asked him about Pixar and then asked Jobs what went wrong at Apple.
Oh gosh. You know I haven't been there in a long time. My perception may not be complete. But from the way I see it, Apple was a company that was based on innovation. When I left Apple ten years ago, we were ten years ahead of anybody else. It took Microsoft ten years to copy Windows.
The problem was that Apple stood still. Even though it invested cumulatively billions in R&D, the output has not been there. People have caught up with it, and its differentiation has eroded, in particular with respect to Microsoft.
And so the way out for Apple -- and I think Apple still has a future; there are some awfully good people there and there is tremendous brand loyalty to that company -- I think the way out is not to slash and burn, it's to innovate. That's how Apple got to its glory, and that's how Apple could return to it.
In the interview, Steve Jobs, always the marketer, talks up Pixar's Toy Story CD-ROMs as "dynamite" and says they will "set a new benchmark" for what CD-ROMs could be.
Jobs' performance speaks for itself. Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion in stock, which made Jobs the largest shareholder in Disney and gave him a spot on the Disney board.
Apple is now the most valuable company in the world, and its stock price just today hit an all-time high of $411.50, valuing the company at more than $380 billion.