In 1985, veteran photojournalist Doug Menuez pitched an open-ended assignment to Life magazine: He wanted to photograph Steve Jobs and the evolving culture of the digital revolution in Silicon Valley. After he spent a few years documenting Jobs and the burgeoning milieu of the Valley in the 1980s, Jobs pulled the plug on that story, telling Menuez "Oh, don't worry about it. We just decided Life sucks. Don't worry--you'll have a great time with these pictures someday!"
"Someday" finally came in 2014, when Menuez published his book Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley, 1985-2000. In these photos, along with caption information drawn from his book, Menuez brilliantly captures the texture and zeitgeist of a much earlier time in tech: a time when Jobs was placing a very big bet on a new kind of computer called the NeXT (a bet that only paid off when Apple bought the company in late 1996); when an upstart company had just created an imaging software called Photoshop; and when a young visionary named Bill Gates still ran Microsoft and a guy named Steve Ballmer was merely an unusually voluble senior vice president there. Perhaps above all, though, Menuez's photos depict the legendary Jobs with a candor and intimacy that is almost startling.