When Steve Jobs passed away last year, the Internet was overwhelmed with stories and interviews praising the man, his life, and his visionary genius. From the scrapped (and suddenly profound) Jobs-narrated “Crazy Ones” commercial to Walter Isaacson’s seminal biography, we all got an endearing and enduring image of what the world had and what the world lost.

Of course, like any life story, there’s a lot more to it. As one of the late Apple founder’s closest media contacts, reporter Brent Schlender spoke to Steve on a regular basis since 1985, and he recently uncovered a series of long-forgotten interviews taken from Jobs’ so-called “wilderness years.”

Schlender interviewing Jobs.

Explains Schlender (via MacRumors):

Rummaging through the storage shed, I discovered some three dozen tapes holding recordings of extended interviews–some lasting as long as three hours–that I’d conducted with him periodically over the past 25 years. Many I had never replayed–a couple hadn’t even been transcribed before now. Some were interrupted by his kids bolting into the kitchen as we talked. During others, he would hit the pause button himself before saying something he feared might come back to bite him. Listening to them again with the benefit of hindsight, the ones that took place during that interregnum jump out as especially enlightening.

While the recordings themselves haven’t yet been made available, Schlender calls them a methodological revelation.

Eleven years is a big chunk of a lifetime. Especially when one’s time on earth is cut short. Moreover, many people–particularly creative types–are often their most prolific during their thirties and early forties. With all the heady success of Apple during Jobs’s last 14 years, it’s all too easy to dismiss these “lost” years. But in truth, they transformed everything. As I listened again to those hours and hours of tapes, I realized they were, in fact, his most productive.

I can’t wait to hear these. I could use a good life lesson.

Or hundred.