A portrait of Steve Jobs at 31

August 27, 2011: 9:24 AM ET

"There is a bounce to his step that betrays a certain youthful cockiness"

Jobs at NeXT. Photo via

Joe Nocera's lovely op-ed essay in Saturday's New York Times does us all a favor by including a link to a piece Nocera wrote about Steve Jobs for Esquire in 1986.

Jobs had been kicked out of Apple (AAPL), and to help drum up publicity for his new project, NeXT, he invited Nocera -- who would later become Fortune's editorial director -- to shadow him for a week as Jobs ran staff meetings, attended parties and barreled around Silicon Valley in a Mercedes coupe.

Nocera doesn't say what happened to sour their relationship between then and the summer of 2008, when Jobs began a phone conversation like this:

"This is Steve Jobs. You think I'm an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he's above the law, and I think you're a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong." (link)

Jobs was wrong about Nocera's skills as a reporter, as the Esquire story makes clear. Much of it covers ground about the early days of computing that Apple watchers will find familiar. But there are some sharply reported descriptive passages that capture Jobs at age 31 as well any piece I've ever read.

Below the fold: My favorite paragraphs.


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