Who was the real Steve Jobs? The question lingers in a documentary that has resurfaced on CNN.
Directed by Alex Gibney, "Steve Jobs: The Man In the Machine" tries to shine a light on the late Apple co-founder and two-time CEO. Along with his contemporary, Microsoft's Bill Gates, Jobs was for many people the face of the high-tech industry as it moved to the center of work and play for the modern world.
As an awestruck boy says in the trailer for the film, "He's made everything."
The truth, of course, is more complicated for the man whose track record does include introducing, among other things, the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone.
"His stuff was beloved," says a woman in voice-over in the trailer, "but it wasn't that he was beloved."
Gibney's film, which aired Sunday night on CNN, delves into those contradictions and the details behind them. It had played briefly in theaters in September and has also been available in Apple's iTunes store and elsewhere. For better or worse, it arrived about the same time as the much-hyped theatrical film "Steve Jobs," written by Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Fassbender in the title role.
A larger than life figure as Apple's leader, seen as a genius by some and as a tyrant by others, Jobs continues to fascinate people more than four years after his death. In the last half-decade alone, he's been the subject of several books, documentaries and a 2013 theatrical film starring Ashton Kutcher.
In promoting its airing of the documentary of Gibney's film, which was produced by Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films, CNN highlighted some of the details of Jobs' life.
In one story that appeared in Walter Isaacson's biography "Steve Jobs," Jobs talked about how he cold-called William Hewlett, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, seeking some parts to help him build a computer. Another story related how Jobs and fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak teamed up to build blue boxes, devices that could illegally make free long-distance phone calls.
There was also Jobs' love of Bob Dylan and his interest in Buddhism and spirituality. But the less positive aspects of Jobs' personality get the spotlight as well.
Jobs initially denied paternity of the daughter, Lisa, he had with onetime girlfriend Chrisann Brennan and didn't pay child support until a test proved he was the father. Stories have arisen about his harsh treatment of employees and other people who didn't meet his standards for perfection.
Some of those aspects of the documentary drew protests from Apple leaders and others.
"The film is a meditation on this guy's life and what it meant to us," Gibney said in September in defense of his film, as quoted by TechCrunch. "It's not so simple."
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