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Steve Wozniak: You cannot write code, you are not an engineer, you're not a designer... what do you do?
Steve Jobs: Musicians play the instruments. I play the orchestra.
from the trailer
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Steve Jobs is a 2015 drama directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin, and starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, and Katherine Waterston. Not to be confused with Jobs from 2013.

The movie's three acts depicts three major events in the life of tech icon Steve Jobs:

  • the 1984 introduction of the Macintosh computer, ultimately a watershed moment in personal computing;
  • the 1988 product launch of the NeXT Computer, an attempt to create a new computer company following his hostile ouster from Apple in 1985;
  • and lastly, the 1998 product launch of the iMac, which capped a triumphant return for Jobs, who had became Apple's CEO once again when Apple bought NeXT in 1997. note 
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Each of the acts takes place in the behind-the-scenes confusion right before each of these product unveilings.

The movie shows how Jobs' famously abrasive personality affected his co-workers and family, and how he was able to find his own humanity through his relationship with the daughter he had always denied was his.

Tropes Featured in this movie include:

  • The '80s: The first two acts take place in the eighties.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Steve is talking to Andy Hertzfeld before the 1988 product launch:
    Steve Jobs: I've been learning to love myself.
    Andy Hertzfeld: I wouldn't have thought that would be a problem.
    Steve Jobs: (chuckles) Fantastic burn, man.
  • Adapted Out: No mention is made of Pixar, the other company Steve Jobs set up after his ouster from Apple. Note 
    • Steve's wife Laurene and their three children are not mentioned or shown in the 1998 section.
  • Analogy Backfire: Zig-zagged:
    Woz: I'm tired of being Ringo when I know I was John.
    Jobs: Everybody loves Ringo.
    Woz: And I'm tired of being patronized by you!
    Jobs: You think John became John by winning a raffle, Woz? You think he tricked somebody or hit George Harrison over the head? He was John because he was John.
    Woz: He was John 'cause he wrote "Ticket to Ride." And I wrote the Apple II.
    • In act one:
    Joanna: Please. You have to tell me why it's so important for it [the Macintosh] to say "hello".
    Steve Jobs: Hollywood. They made computers scary things. See how this reminds you of a friendly face, that the disk slot is a goofy grin? It's warm and it's playful and it needs to say hello. It needs to say hello because it can.
    (...)
    Joanna: The computer in 2001 said hello all the time and it still scared the shit out of me.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Steve gets many throughout the movie, but particularly this one in the third act:
    Andy Hertzfeld: Why do you want people to dislike you?
    Steve Jobs: I don't want people to dislike me; I'm indifferent to whether they dislike me.
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  • Appeal to Obscurity: A slightly ironic version, since Alan Turing became more famous in the meantime. But Turing isn't someone people usually recognize on sight.
    Joel Pforzheimer: Who’s this one?
    Steve Jobs: Alan Turing. Single handedly won World War II and for an encore invented the computer. He won’t be part of the campaign, though.
    Joel Pforzheimer: Why not?
    Steve Jobs: Because you had to ask me who he was.
  • Artistic License – History: Zig-zagged; most everything in the film actually happened, but they didn't all happen right before product launches. Andy Hertzfeld put it best when he said (paraphrased), "That never actually happened, but it's all true."
  • Art Evolution: Live action example. The first act is shot in 16mm to give a retro feel; the second act is shot in 35mm; the third act is shot in digital HD.
  • Batman Gambit: Steve dragging his feet on the NeXT while he waits for Apple to flounder so they have to hire him back as CEO and let him save the company. Lampshaded by Joanna (see Insult Backfire below).
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Joanna Hoffman has to deal with the insanely high demands of Steve Jobs, be a buffer between the public and his abrasive manner, and even won an award at Apple for being able to put up with his ego. Three years in a row.
    • It's no coincidence that in a scene where Joanna isn't present, Jobs and Wozniak get into a bitter and public argument.
  • Biopic: Refreshingly, the movie doesn't take a conventional approach to biopics but instead focuses on three important points in Steve's life: The launch of the Macintosh, the launch of NeXT, and the launch of the iMac.
  • Brick Joke: During the first segment, Jobs orders Andrea Cunningham to find a way to have the exit sign lights turned off so the auditorium can go completely dark. Early in the third segment, when Jobs is rehearsing, he notices something different, and realizes the exit sign lights have been turned off.
    • In the same scene, when a handheld camera examines the iMac up close, Steve Jobs notes that you can see in the machine, but you still can't open it. This is a nod to the difference in philosophy between Jobs (who wanted consumers to not be able to tinker with their machines) and Woz (who wanted the opposite). To Jobs, the iMac is a nice compromise of these two viewpoints.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jobs and John Sculley, from both their perspectives.
  • Brutal Honesty: In act two, Woz says NeXT will fail.
    Woz: I came here 'cause you're gonna get killed. Your computer's gonna fail. You got a college and university advisory board telling you they need a powerful work station for $2 to $3,000. You priced NeXT at $6,500, and that doesn't include the optional $3,000 hard drive which people will discover isn't optional, because the optical disk is too weak to do anything, and the $2,500 laser printer brings the total to $12,000, and in the entire world you are the only person that cares that it's housed in a perfect cube. You're gonna get killed. And I came here to stand next to you while that happens 'cause that's what friends do... that's what men do. I don't need your pass. We go back, so don't talk to me like I'm other people. I'm the only one that knows that this guy here is someone you invented. I'm standing by you because that perfect cube, that does nothing, is about to be the single biggest failure in the history of personal computing.
    Jobs: Tell me something I don't know.
  • Call-Forward: To future Real Life inventions by Apple:
    • Woz shows Jobs a watch that he thinks is cutting edge but Jobs says will never catch on (and thinks it looks like Woz is activating a bomb!). Years later, Apple would make the Apple Watch.
      • Though Woz was way off on the timeline of 10 years and hardly 'everyone' is wearing them as they are seen as mostly an expensive novelty, at least currently.
    • When Jobs and John Sculley make amends in act three, Jobs reveals why the Newton failed: By using the stylus, you're not able to use your fingers. A reference to what would become many finger-activated touch-screen devices, but particularly the iPhone and iPad.
    • At the end, Jobs tells his daughter that he's going to put between 500 and 1,000 songs in her pocket, because he can't stand looking at her bulky Walkman anymore. Obviously, a nod to the iPod.
  • Control Freak: Jobs, both in terms of product design (Macs famously can't be opened up or altered without special tools available exclusively to Apple engineers) and the product unveilings, where he goes so far as to insist that the signs for the fire exits be shut off so that the lighting would be appropriately dark.
    Steve: As long as you have control... I don't understand people who give it up.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: At age nine, Lisa listens to a cassette tape of both versions of "Both Sides Now". She describes the earlier version as "girly", and the latter version (recorded decades later) as "regretful".
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's an Aaron Sorkin movie, what would you expect?
  • Disappeared Dad: Jobs' angst over being abandoned by his biological parents is shown as a possible reason for his jerkishness. Notably, he is also a self-imposed version of this to his daughter until the end.
  • Distant Prologue: In technology terms, anyway. The film opens with a vintage film reel from the 1960s, where author Arthur C. Clarke (correctly) predicted the future, where everyone would have their own personal computers and would be able to do everything with them. After this brief scene, the movie flashes forward to 1984.
  • Dramatization: The movie has no real pretensions to being an accurate depiction of the events portrayed (although most of the small historical and character details are accurate). Instead, it uses the three-act structure as a way to examine the changing nature of Jobs's personality and how the world perceived him.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Steve Wozniak spends the entire movie begging Jobs to at least acknowledge the Apple II team (whose success is what gave Jobs the means to create the Mac in the first place).
    • Steve Jobs throws it back at him during their public duel when he says the reason he never gave Woz any respect is because Woz, at least in his own view, never respected him.
  • Dueling Movies: With Jobs, released in 2013. Steve Jobs was actually announced first, but delays meant it wasn't released until 2015.
  • Dutch Angle: The board meeting where Jobs is fired has this along with deep shadows and rain pouring down the windows to amplify the seriousness of the situation.
  • Financial Abuse: Chrisann has to go on welfare because Jobs (who at this point in the story is worth several hundred million) steadfastly refuses to pay child support.
    • Technically he pays the exact amount the judge decided he should pay: $385/month. Chrisann confronts Jobs about the disparity between his means and her needs.
  • Flower Motifs: At the NeXT launch, Jobs switches out the flowers on the demo table with more funereal white lilies.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Played for Drama; early in the film, Jobs claims one of his early computer models, the "Lisa", was not in fact named after his daughter (whom, at that point, he denies was his), but instead stood for Local Intergrated Systems Architecture. At the end of the movie, Lisa calls him out on this, and Jobs admits he lied (in real life, he admitted it stood for Lisa Invented Stupid Acronym).
  • The Golden Rule: Steve Wozniak's reasoning on why Steve Jobs should acknowledge the Apple II team.
    Woz: Do it! It's right! It's right.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: Andy Hertzfeld does this to Steve Jobs in act three.
    Andy Hertzfeld: Why do you want people to dislike you?
    Steve Jobs: I don't want people to dislike me; I'm indifferent to whether they dislike me.
    Andy Hertzfeld: Well, since it doesn't matter, I always have.
    Steve Jobs: (surprised and saddened) ...Really? I've always like you a lot. That's too bad.
    Andy Hertzfeld: ...Knock 'em dead. (leaves)
    • Steve Wozniak did this twice in the film: Once, when Jobs first left Apple and called him an "insulting and hurtful guy"; and again in act three, when one of the last things he says before leaving the auditorium is:
    Woz: Y'know, when people used to ask me what the difference between me and you is, I'd say, "Steve's the big picture guy, I like a solid workbench." Whenever people ask me now, I just say, "Steve's an asshole." The things you make are better than you are, brother.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Defied. This movie was not afraid to show the less pleasant aspects of Jobs.
  • Historical In-Joke: Jobs mention to John Sculley how the Newton failed for having a stylus instead of letting people use their own fingers, and his annoyance at Lisa's walkman apparently inspired him to create both iTunes and the iPod.
  • History Repeats: Thrice Jobs has to face the things he did wrong while preparing a product presentation. He even lampshades at one point.
    Steve Jobs: It's like five minutes before every launch, everyone goes to a bar, gets drunk and tells me what they really think.
  • I Like Those Odds: Inverted. Jobs dismisses a DNA test saying that there's a 94.1% chance that he is Lisa's father by calculating that that meant 28% of men in the United States could have been the father. The mother interprets that as being called a slut.
    • Lisa points out later in the movie that multiple Harvard statisticians have tried and failed to figure out how Jobs arrived at this number, and he appears to have pulled it out of thin air.
  • Insufferable Genius: Jobs. The slightest questioning of his methods or motivation is enough to send him into a rant. It's mentioned that the Apple staff give out an award to the employee who is best able to stand up to his raging.
  • Insult Backfire: A couple instances:
    • The John Sculley/Steve Jobs meeting:
    Steve Jobs: I'm the world's leading expert on the Mac, John, what's your resume?!
    John Sculley: You're issuing contradictory instructions, you're insubordinate, you make people miserable, our top engineers are fleeing to Sun, Dell, HP, Wall Street doesn't know who's driving the bus, we've lost hundreds of millions in value and I'm the CEO of Apple, Steve. That's my resume.
    Steve Jobs: But before that, you sold carbonated sugar water, right? I sat in a fucking garage with Wozniak and invented the future, because artists lead and hacks ask for a show of hands!
    • A few minutes later:
    Joanna: This guy, Kawasaki in Macworld, he accidentally got it right, didn't he? You've been dragging your feet on the NeXT OS 'til you can figure out what Apple's gonna need.
    Steve Jobs: ...Even if that were true, it doesn't sound that diabolical to me.
  • Invisible Subtle Difference: A programmer goes through 39 different shark pictures for the iMac presentation before Jobs is satisfied. The programmer doesn't see the difference between that shark and the other 38 sharks he looked at.
    Steve Jobs: Nobody gets it right the first time, but I should've been shown this, like, 15, 20 sharks ago.
    Programmer: You probably were.
  • It Will Never Catch On: A rare inversion. In a scene set in 1988, Woz shows up to a product launch wearing an experimental Nixie tube wristwatch, and claims "Everyone's gonna be wearing these in ten years!" Jobs isn't convinced, and points out that it's way too difficult to change the time on the thing (it requires using a screwdriver to open it and reset the dials, and it looks suspiciously like an explosive when it's opened). Jobs was right, of course: Nixie tube watches really didn't catch on.
  • It's All About Me: Jobs would claim it's about the product, but he's not really fooling anybody.
  • Jerkass: Jobs (see a pattern emerging?)
  • Lack of Empathy: Jobs certainly qualifies at times.
    Chrisann: I applied for welfare yesterday. Beat The Time article said your Apple stock is worth $441 million, and I wanted to ask you what you felt about that.
    Steve: Well, I feel like Apple stock has been dramatically under-valued. This would be a good time to get in.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: John Sculley wants to keep it between himself and Steve Jobs that they used real skinheads in the famous "1984" ad.
  • Like a Son to Me: Sculley to Jobs. It doesn't last.
  • The Makeover: Joanna has three distinct looks in the film: In 1984, her hair is short, she wears glasses, and dresses in a formal business suit and dress. By 1998, she has lost the glasses, dresses more informally (but still professionally) and has longer hair.
  • Narcissist: Steve Jobs had many traits of this. It's even explained here.
  • Non-Answer:
    Chrisann: I'm asking you how you feel. If it feels all right to you that your daughter and her mother are on welfare while you're worth $441 million for making that?
    Steve Jobs: I'm proud to say Apple donates computers to underfunded schools, and we'll be doing more of the same with the Mac...
    Chrisann: What?
    Steve Jobs: Apple donates millions of dollars' worth of computers to schools.
    Chrisann: What does that have to do with...
    Steve Jobs: Imagine an underprivileged kid that has their favorite teacher with them 24 hours. We're minutes away from being able to do that.
    Chrisann: In your head, was that an answer to my question?
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Interestingly, the movie never shows Steve Jobs's product launches, only the lead-ups to them.
  • Old Shame: In-universe, this is why Steve Jobs refuses to acknowledge the Apple II team; he wasn't satisfied with Woz defying his instructions to limit the slots, as he thought it went against his philosophy of "end-to-end" control. He also didn't want to dwell on the past, claiming that the company should always look to the future.
    Steve Jobs: This is a product launch, not a luncheon. And the last thing I want to do is connect the iMac to...
    Steve Wozniak: ...To the only successful product that this company ever made.
  • One Steve Limit: Literally averted, as both Jobs and Wozniak are major characters. Also less literally averted in a more amusing way, as Jobs is irritated that in the 15 years that the film spans, people still call Andy Hertzfeld and Andrea "Andy" Cunningham by the same name, and he has to ask for clarification every single time.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Wozniak is known throughout the movie as "Woz".
  • Papa Wolf: Even though Jobs repeatedly denies paternity, pays only what the court requires in child support (at first), and is not involved in raising Lisa, when he finds out that Chrisann might have hit her, he bluntly tells Chrisann he has the resources to have her murdered.
  • Parental Substitute: Andy Hertzfeld acts as one to Lisa; not only does he recommend Lisa see a therapist, but he pays for Lisa's first semester of college because Jobs initially refused to. Jobs asked Andy point blank if he recommended Lisa to a therapist because she was lacking a paternal authority figure; after a pause, he affirms: "I did."
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Jobs and Joanna Hoffman. she's one of the few people he genuinely respects.
    Steve: Why haven't we ever slept together.
    Joanna: We're not in love.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Real Soon Now: In act two, Steve Jobs is followed by a reporter who wants to know, off the record, when NeXT will be ready for launch. Joanna tries to reply but Steve interrupts her: "When it's done." When the reporter presses for details, Steve admits that the one thing holding them back is... they don't have an OS. The computer knows how to run a presentation and that's it.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Joanna finally gives Steve one over how he treats his daughter.
    • Woz also gives Steve one over how he treats his employees, while Steve is giving Woz one for not understanding how the business works.
    • Steve gets one from his daughter in act three:
    Lisa: You know, my mother might be a troubled woman, but what's your excuse? That's why I'm not impressed with your story, dad. It's that you knew what I was going through, and you didn't do anything about it, and that makes you an unconscionable coward. And not for nothing, but "think" is a verb, all right, making "different" an adverb. You're asking people to think differently. And you can talk about the Bauhaus movement and Braun and "Simplicity is sophistication" and Issey Miyake uniforms and Bob Dylan lyrics all you want, but that thing [iMac] looks like Judy Jetson's Easy-Bake Oven.
  • The Reliable One: Joanna Hoffman. Whatever Steve Jobs needs to have happen right this second, Joanna makes sure it gets done.
  • Shout-Out: Steve calls Joanna "Yentl" at one point.
  • Speech-Centric Work: It wouldn't be an Aaron Sorkin movie otherwise.
  • Stop Saying That!: Jobs and Woz get into an argument about how many slots should be on the Apple II (with Jobs arguing it should have less, and Woz wanting more), prompting this:
    Woz: Computers aren't paintings.
    Jobs: Fuck you. I'll say "fuck you" every time you say that. Try it. Say, "computers aren't paintings" again.
    Woz: ...Computers aren't p-
    Jobs: Fuck you.
  • Take a Third Option: Averted; in act two, Steve wants to know why they're still offering three options for a clock on the NeXT desktop. He wants only two options: "Buy it, or don't."
  • Technician vs. Performer: Wozniak is the technician, in that he's the skilled engineer who actually knows how to code, and his workhorse Apple II is the primary moneymaker for the company, while Jobs is the performer: his glossier, more ambitious projects are more likely to fail, but people are enthralled and inspired by their glossiness and ambition, and those are the qualities that keep people interested in what Jobs is going to do next, whereas Wozniak imagined that computers would be chiefly of interest to people who knew how they worked.
  • Time-Compression Montage: Between each of the three acts, we get a montage of news stories detailing the story leading up to the new product launch.
  • Tough Room: At the start of act three, Steve Jobs is rehearsing his iMac presentation and says the computer "has the coolest mouse you've ever seen. This time, we used actual mice." Most of the Apple employees laugh, except for Joanna, who tells him to stick to the script because they're running low on time.
  • Walk and Talk: Obviously, as this is an Aaron Sorkin movie (though it's also Truth in Television, as Jobs in real life liked to conduct one-on-one meetings while taking a walk).
  • What Could Have Been: In-universe example. Jobs and Sculley finally bury the hatchet, but regret that they couldn't have been working together the whole time.
    Sculley: The things we could've done...
  • What the Hell, Hero?
    Joanna: I love that you don't care how much money a person makes, you care what they make. But what you make isn't supposed to be the best part of you. When you're a father, that's what's supposed to be the best part of you, and it's caused me two decades of agony, Steve, that it is, for you, the worst.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: When Steve asks Joanna to get Lisa to come backstage and talk with him by doing her old, wise European act, she replies, "You know I wasn't born in a 19th century shtetl, right?".
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