Fortune's Michael V. Copeland interviews Michael Moritz, author of Return to the Little Kingdom about the young Steve Jobs, what made Apple special from the start, and the common characteristics of extraordinary companies.
Q: What was Jobs' demeanor during the time that the Macintosh was being developed?
A: He was on a mission. And people who are on a mission and imbued with a sense of purpose are just unstoppable. His responsibility in those days was running the Macintosh division. That was the lens through which I saw him mainly.
Q: Was Apple as secretive then as it is today?
A: Back in the early '80s things weren't as secretive as they necessarily became later. There was always this joke back then that it was a company that leaked from the top. Those leaks were corked years later -- from the top.
Q: How has Jobs changed since the book was written?
A: You can never take the boy out of the man. In his youth he developed very worldly interests. He attained an aesthetic sensibility and always had the air of the bohemian poet about him. All of that was very apparent: the music he listened to, the books he read, the political leaders he admired. He had ferreted out this guy named Hartmut Esslinger, who at that point was one of the best product designers in the world. This was a guy nobody knew in America, and Steve found him in the Black Forest in Bavaria, and he got him working on Apple products. That was Steve. Steve's got a fabulous eye and a terrific ear. Most people in Silicon Valley or in the consumer electronics business are tone deaf, offkey. Steve has perfect pitch.
Q: How has your study of Jobs and Apple helped you in your job as a venture capitalist?
A: Extraordinary, rare companies -- like Apple in those first two or three years -- have some common traits. The individuals will be different, the businesses will be different, the decade will be different, but the purpose, the drive, the sense of mission, the intelligence of the founders -- those will be common. If you have been around the start of success, it's far easier to recognize it again.