On Deadline: When Steve Jobs showed he had some social skills
Original post made by Jay Thorwaldson, editor emeritus, on Oct 27, 2011
It is mainly about a longtime Palo Altan, Carolyn Caddes, a retired portrait-quality photographer and photojournalist who a quarter century ago put together a remarkable book: "Portraits of Success -- Impressions of Silicon Valley Pioneers."
The large, coffee-table-quality publication featured 57 individuals who turned the once-bucolic Santa Clara Valley into the dynamic economic engine that almost literally turned sand into gold.
Caddes, originally from West Virginia, was able through vision, determination and charm to win the cooperation of such luminaries as David Packard, William Hewlett and the 55 others -- some known mostly by Silicon Valley insiders.
She took portraits, conducted detailed interviews and wrote up smoothly flowing nutshells of the person's life and contributions -- with the help of another Palo Altan, Barbara Newton.
Jobs was one of those featured <0x2014> in the mid-1980s, not terribly long after he had been fired by Apple Computer in 1983 in favor of the ultimately disastrous decade of leadership of CEO John Sculley.
Caddes disclosed that Jobs was notoriously difficult, to the point that she even considered leaving a blank page where his photo and interview would have gone.
In June 2009 Caddes shared stories of how she put together the book at the Palo Alto Historical Association's annual meeting, breaking attendance records while bravely conquering a lifelong aversion to public speaking.
Jobs was the hardest to get, she recounted. He had a deep aversion to being interviewed by "the press" and a virtually secret private life -- at least prior to the publication this week of his revealing biography.
He also had highly protective people around him, who responded defensively, even rudely, to Caddes' inquiries, she recalled.
But she finally landed the interview and photo session at Jobs' home, only after an intense half-hour interview of her by Jobs.
The outcome speaks for itself in the now out-of-print book, available in libraries and for sale online.
Years later, in 1997, Caddes had another contact with Jobs that showed a softer, more trusting and interactive side.
She outlined the encounter in a personal note to her mother and family dated Nov. 5, 1997, and sent a copy to Jobs -- made public here for the first time.
It turns out that Jobs had earlier asked for a print of a photo Caddes took of another Silicon Valley pioneer, the late Robert "Bob" Noyce, who co-invented the integrated circuit that made modern computers possible. But, alas, when she tried to retrieve the negative from Stanford University archives it could not be found. Instead, she sadly provided Jobs gratis with a "reprint of a reprint."
Then in 1997 after a change of residence she found an original photo of Noyce she had printed and matted in 1983 to share at an Ansel Adams workshop.
"So, in a moment of high self-esteem, I called Steve," she recalled in the note to her family, which she has kept confidential since in respect for Jobs' penchant for privacy. "His assistant said he was very interested.
"Then I began to contemplate selling my final Robert Noyce photograph to THE Steve Jobs, a man who had not been easy to deal with in 1985 and '86.
"Privately, I became quite cocky about this whole scene and wondered if this man deserved the picture. (I hadn't even considered price)," she wrote.
She contacted Noyce's wife, Ann Bowers, and asked her opinion. Bowers said if Jobs didn't want it she would buy it and donate it to Grinnell College or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Unsure what to do, she let several months pass. She had not charged Intel for the 4- by 5-foot photo of Noyce hanging in the lobby of Intel's Robert Noyce Building.
"I had felt it was improper, perhaps immoral of me, to get money for any of my photographs of someone nice who had died."
But friends, and Intel officials, "convinced me that was naïve, lacking in business savvy, downright silly and belittling to both my photography and my profession," she recounted. Thinking of the new roof she and her husband, Robin, needed for their Eichler home, came up with a price of $10,000.
Jobs wanted to see the picture, and Caddes raced to get it framed and boxed for an appointment two days later. She was greeted pleasantly by Jobs' assistant, Andrea Nordeman, who was "much different from the people Steve had surrounded himself with when we were all working on THE book in the '80s."
Jobs emerged from an Apple board meeting and she greeted him with: "Hi. New beard. Good looking."
"Thanks," he replied. "And Stanford lost the negative? That's sh----!"
As she unwrapped the photo Caddes confessed to being nervous due to it being her last print of Noyce, "such a highly respected human being and a major role model in Silicon Valley."
"But this is like Christmas," Jobs said, as he confirmed that she had personally printed the image on acid-free paper.
"Finally, he said, 'Bob was a great man. I want it.' I said, 'You do?' He said, 'I'll take it. I'll be honored to buy it from you.' ('Honored?' Good grief! The NEW Steve Jobs had learned some social skills, even some flattery!)
"Without thinking, I laughed out loud, leaned over and gave him a peck on his cheek, saying, 'You're lucky!' He laughed and asked, 'Plus tax?'" He thanked her, "and I blurted out, 'You can give it to MIT when you die.'
"I think he smiled as he stepped into his office holding the framed picture and still looking at it."
There's no word yet on whether MIT will inherit the Noyce portrait, though.
NOTE: Former Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be e-mailed at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.