Bill Gates

You made a difference to a lot of people

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Woz, My dad bought an Apple //c back in 1982 (I think) after our Commodore 64 failed to impress him. We had a neighbor who had a //c as well, so we pirated software between us, based on what we could find on Bulletin Boards (with my 300 baud modem). Yes, we also made some purchases, but at the time, none of us had any real appreciation for what we had.

I used my //c to play a bunch of games, make posters and signs, and write school papers. I thought I was the coolest kid in school, because I had a "computer". At the time, I had no idea what Apple was about, and had someone mentioned the names Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or anyone else mentioned in "Pirates", I would have given a dumb, blank stare in response. To me, it was this cool toy that did just about anything I could imagine wanting to do.

I took a BASIC class in high school, and learned on IBM computers. When I discovered that I could write BASIC programs on my //c, I was ecstatic! I started writing simple programs to flash names of girls on the screen who I had crushes on, and so on. We're talking really simple here. But seeing these things work gave me such a feeling of happiness and confidence, I can't begin to express it.

When my dad decided it was time to get a newer, better computer in 1987(?), I figured "ok, something bigger and better than my //c". I had no clue what I was in for. He bought a Mac SE, and the first thing I remember saying to him when he showed me the interface was "Why do I have to click the mouse twice? Shouldn't it be once? That's stupid!" When I left for college in 1989, I took my //c and a handful of games (my favorite being "Below The Root", which I used to LOVE), along with AppleWorks (the original AppleWorks). I used it for two years, and then came back home to finish my degree.

In the next several years, living with my parents, I graduated with an MBA, and started using a 6100/60, and just before my parents moved to Florida (leaving me to pay rent in our house in Staten Island, NY), I bought a Mac Clone (PowerBase). I set up my //c on my desk right next to my PowerBase, and at one point in time, I even got the //c to call the Mac (using that old 300 baud modem). It stayed connected only long enough for me to write "Hi" to myself, and when I saw it appear on the Mac screen, I couldn't believe my eyes. Here was a 16-year-old computer talking to a 16-day-old computer. At the time, Steve Jobs was just returning to Apple, and I started to hear his name a lot more frequently. I researched him, found out a bit about his past, and discovered your name, and your involvement. Prior to this, I really didn't follow the computer industry much, except to know that I was using the better, less popular platform.

I now own a Yosemite G3/400, and my PowerBase is connected via Ethernet and sitting under my desk, but the //c sits proudly on the desk next to the Blue G3. I now know and appreciate who it was who created the //c, and who wrote the BASIC that I used to make Stacey and Laura's names appear flashing on my screen. I now understand who you are, and what you are about, and I feel foolish for calling Steve Jobs my "hero". Granted, as a current AAPL shareholder, and Mac user/evangelist, he is a hero of sorts, but when it comes to computers in general, my early involvement, and the joy I got when I was a kid, I now know that it is you I have to thank for putting in the blood, sweat and tears (not to mention putting up with Steve Jobs!).

I almost never use the //c anymore, but even at 17 years old, it still boots up, and still runs programs off those flimsy floppies. I even found a girl recently who had a //e and used to play Below The Root! Too bad, she was not interested in going out with me. Her loss :)

I have a "cool" Web site at http://www.stealth.net which you will find amusing, if not creative and cool, just for the navigation metaphor.

Thanks, Woz, for inventing the machine that made me love computers, and helping start the company that has shaped so many important details in my adult computing life. Whether you wanted it or not, whether you cared or not, you made a difference to a lot of people, and I, for one, will forever cherish that. You're my hero.

Woz

For quite a long time I laid quite low and had no idea that so many people were fans for the right reasons. I figured that many were fans just because they had the Apple Macintosh and loved it, as I do, and heard my name. But so many were touched the right way by the Apple ][. It truly had an impact that no modern computer can. In your own story I see that a couple of simple things (games, BBS, flashing names, etc.) that truly inspired you. I look back to my own such experiences in my youth, largely before computers but related to science and electronics, so emotionally that I know that those experiences truly shaped my life. Even my father, an engineer, is very important to me now, more so than when he was around. I'm even thankful for the 'right' books that I stumbled on that gave me direction here.

Before computers, many fewer of us typed. But I was a very good typist, even acing out the girls in typing 2 in HS. I'm not so fast anymore, because I switched to Dvorak and use a tiny PowerBook keyboard, but...Anyway, at one point in my life, my third year of college, the most important thing I owned was an IBM Selectric Typewriter. Steve Jobs and I got a couple for a blue box, The next year, my most important possession would be my HP-35 calculator. But when I got to designing what became the early Apple computers I had to have the circuitry complete and in front of me and usable like a typewriter. Being around HP calculators was a boon to seeing computers this way too. So I always liked computers that sat right in front of you, like a typewriter. I use only PowerBooks these days. The Apple ][c was truly my favorite Apple ][. It had to be plugged in, but with an LCD screen it was incredibly small in it's day. I'm always glad to be reminded of it by people like you.

Your web site is VERY cool and really grabbed me instantly. Instantly it seems a lot more negotiable than almost any others, even if you're a Windows user. If mine gets done in this style you won't sue me for violating your look and feel, will you? (kidding)

Good luck, and don't get fooled as to what is good and what is junk.

I wish that Bill Gates had my sense of humor.

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Letter from Carmela

I loved the movie-very interesting and well done! After all that happened in the film, one thing I wonder is how do things stand today between you and Steve Jobs (and Bill Gates)? Also, I am curious about how the actors prepared for their roles behind-the-scenes (if you know...), what kind of research they did to try to make things accurate? Thanks. Carmela

Woz

I'm glad that you enjoyed the movie. I did also.

I talk to Steve occassionally and try not to feed reports of any conflict between us (there is none).

I wish that Bill Gates had my sense of humor. Do you remember when he got hit with some pies in Europe? After that, I sent him a picture of myself being hit by a pie at the pizza party after my college graduation in 1986. It was fun and we all laughed and the picture is captioned cleverly "Computer pie-in-ear". I suggested to Bill that he have a pie thrower ready in the wings whenever he has a boring stage appearance, just for laughs.

The personalities and personality conflicts were portrayed quite accurately in the movie, even though a lot of the scenes didn't happen or had different parties present or happened in different cities than shown or in different years. The actors deliberately didn't talk to any of the principle parties. I guess that we would have spoiled it telling how great we all are and threatening lawsuits if they didn't show it the way we said. So some legal problems might be avoided by not talking to us.

MacOS always feels better

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Comment from E-mail

I saw the movie last evening on tape, and to tell the truth I was quite disappointed. I thought that Bill Gates was portrayed as "kinder" than he really is, and I thought that they should have given you more credit and perhaps shed more light on your contributions. I also have one question; did Apple "steal" the GUI from Xerox (at PARC), or did they develop it themselves? And a personal question; how do you think the MacOS is better than Windows? What about MacOS X (any future?)? Sorry to be intrusive, but I am naturally inquisitive, and I figure if anyone would know the answers to these questions, it would be you. Thanks for your time. John

Woz

Apple worked with Xerox openly to bring their developments to a mass audience. That's what Steve portrayed Apple as being good at. Xerox got a lot of Apple stock for it too, it was an agreement.

Microsoft just took it from Xerox or Apple or whomever. It took them a long time to get it halfway right.

MacOS has been more constant since it's beginning 15 years ago. Look how many times DOS and Windows have changed. That doesn't lead to stardards that feel good. MacOS always feels better to those of us who use both. It's been built in from the ground up, from the atoms of the OS up. It's also part of our culture to put a high priority on how easy it is to use.

Young and idealistic

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I just wanted to say that I just saw Pirates of Silicon Valley and was amazed at what went on way back when. I commend you for remaining the same person you've always been rather than turning into a money hungry, stuck up person like so many others do. It's so interesting to me that you made the computer that made Apple even possible, but it was Steve Job's that seemed to take all the credit. Was the scene with the man being interviewed really true? Did Steve Job's actually demean a potential employee?? I have to say, that they portrayed him as a real jerk who was very demeaning to his employees if they did not perform to his liking. And actually, Bill Gates was no better. They were and maybe still are hungry for the power. The other thing that I found interesting and didn't realize was that Microsoft now owns part of Apple. Steve Jobs is definitely a brilliant business man but after seeing what Bill Gates has done I'd have to say that he's even more savvy! Anyway, those were just a few thoughts I had. I was just really impressed with your character and how you've remained the same person that you were when you created that first computer. I hope you don't mind my two cents. : - )...Heather A.

Woz

I think that I already gave you some insights. We have such clear insights as to what we want to be like when we're young and idealistic, but few remain true to these ideals. I'm just simple enough not to play games and bend and twist my early idealistic views. I do need recognition for having been a great engineer, I don't need credit for the company, or power

Microsoft apps for the Macintosh

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I knew that you guys (Apple) got the GUI from Xerox... But why on earth would Jobs let Xerox and Co. even get a look at the Mac before it hit the streets? I mean, jeez... I understand why Xerox let you guys see the technology.... The Xerox 'Brass' had no vision, but Jobs did.

Woz

Steve wanted Microsoft to write some apps for the Macintosh.

Bill Gates and Microsoft

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Comment from E-mail

Some people claim that Bill Gates will be given credit for creating the personal computer in the history books. What do you think about this and Microsoft in general?

Woz

That's ridiculous. Bill did have an important part. In 1975 when I was in the Homebrew Computer Club and designing my computer, Bill's BASIC brought a usable computer language to those technicians that could now afford a cheap Altair computer. Tons of games were the starting point for this revolution.

I'd spent a couple of important, earlier years of my life teaching myself to program a computer language in machine language, even though I never had access to a computer to even start debugging my programs. They were just written on paper, generally during college math classes and the like. I awe Bill Gates' BASIC and decided that was the language for me to use on my 'second' computer, which became the Apple I (the first had been built a few years earlier). In the end, I spent a lot more time on this than on the hardware designs and other things.

Do note that I did all the hardware and software and keyboard control programs and BASIC and graphic programs and apps and demos and peripherals (cassette interface, printer interface and driver, serial interfaces and drivers, floppy controller and driver and boot code and OS kernel, and more). Bill Gates gave up engineering (programming) after one program and made all of Microsoft's programs as a businessman, primarily 'buying' them.

Once in a while history credits the scientist or engineer over the businessman. Einstein is an example of this. But usually the measure is in terms of dollars and power and longevity in the business.

Questions

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A bunch of my friends are now Macintosh fans. Do you use a Mac? What kind? Do you like it? Why do you use Outlook Express??? Have you met Bill Gates? I hear he isn't the nicest of people is there any truth to that? Do you read the magazine Mac Addict? Do you know anything internet based that I can do to earn a little cash? Do you like RPG games like Dungeons and Dragons Visit the best web sites in the world?

Woz

I use Macintosh computers exclusively. I mainly use a PowerBook (G3/400) but also have a G4 minitower. My family uses lots of other models, including iMacs and iBooks and even the incredible 20th anniversary Macintosh.

I do use Outlook Express. It doesn't have a lot of things that I want (like dragging email addresses into the address book) but it's clean for what it does have.

I've never met Bill Gates.

I occasionally read MacAddict. I have so little free time, that's my problem.

Sorry, I don't have any specific internet based ideas for you.

I don't have time for RPG games (beyond a bare minimum) but my boys and their friends have always gone for RPG games in particular. That's the sort of game I would get into if I had the time and was younger.

About Bill Gates

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Comment from E-mail

So you are retired, that is great. I was wondering how you feel on how the govenment is charging Bill Gates with monopolizing the computer industry, do you think he is?

Woz

Bill Gates is not charged with monopolizing the computer industry.

The corporation Microsoft is charged with using it's monopoly power (a 'given', already expressed in Judge Jackson's Finding of Fact) to suppress new companies from starting. I think that Microsoft did more in this regard than any company in the world could have. There's nothing more that a 'worse' company could have done. Therefore, if there are laws against such things, they apply and they should be applied to the fullest extent.
[also see: Woz.org Microsoft Feature]

About Jobs and Gates

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Hello, My name is Jason S, I would like to say that I really do admire you and your work, and if you wouldn't mine, I would like to ask you a few quesitons about Jobs and Gates:

First, how did you feel at the 1997 MacWorld Expo when Jobs announced a semi-merger with Microsoft? Next, What do you think of the Anti-trust case against Microsoft? Do you think its a monopoly or just an extremenly competitive company? Also, what do you think of Jobs being appointed interim CEO of Apple? Do you tink that the new iMac is the answer to the companies decline?

Woz

The1997 MacWorld Expo: In the sense which it is intended it's good. I'm non-confrontational for sure. But it was portrayed as Bill Gates cheering for Apple and that wasn't true

Regarding Microsoft: It's a monopoly. Microsoft has used it's monopoly powers in very bad ways. What if all the gas stations were owned by one company and they announced that they were modifying the nozzles to only fit their own brand of car? We'd have no choice and all the car companies would be out of business. If you're rich and don't like somebody who has a shoe store, you don't have the right to open a big shoe store across the street and price the shoes at half price just to put him out of business (and then be left with the rewards of a 'monopoly')

Jobs as CEO: At first I didn't like the fact that he would revive his own Next stuff within Apple, because some good Apple stuff would be shelved. But the products are great and leading the world to the future...Woz

A&E's top 100

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I just wanted to write this to tell how grateful I am that Apple Computer was developed. Mainly because there would be no such as the personal computer and many advances never would've happened if it wasn't for Apple. I also wanted to write because recently I was watching A&E's top 100 hundred and was disappointed to see that you where not named and Bill Gates was. I sat there and said to myself what did he do to deserve that besides make a lot of money nothing. I would've at least to of like to of seen at least Steve Jobs or at least a mention of Apple but when they rounded out the top five I knew it wouldn't happen and was deeply disappointed that the two people or even the person who changed the daily lives of everyone was not even mentioned at all during that.

Well, I just wanted to thank you for helping change my life and the way I live it everyday. If it was not for the Apple Macintosh computer I would not have a job or hobby anymore and am grateful for having it around. I am always exited about the new developments coming out of Apple and just have one question for you. As an original developer of the MacOs and with the new version of it coming out next year MacOs X I was just wondering what your comments on it and how it will change it from where it started and how you feel about it? Thanks again, Spencer Parker

Woz

I'm glad that you see things this way. It is fair to say that Bill and Microsoft did a bit of engineering (writing BASIC for the Altair computer) at the start and did take risks in setting up and running a business. But we at Apple did much more to bring computing to people and we took much greater risks and we did our own designs and used our own money and time a lot more. We worked to create the hardware and the software that would do new things. We didn't merely buy others' programs and find a way to sell them at a profit. Apple even popularized (and largely created) the technology that Microsoft makes it's money off of.

I think that MacOS X will be very very great but will, at first, only reach loyal Macintosh owners. I think that it will be well accepted by the Macintosh users by the time it comes out and that the grumbling about differences will be short lived. I think that differences like fast graphics and more game software will be even more important than a more stable OS though.