Lisa

Xerox PARC

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Comment from E-mail

Can you describe what you saw when you went to Xerox PARC. In your mind what was or is the best product Apple has made. Also if Apple offered you a job today to design products for them would you ? How would you fell about working w/ Steve again?

Woz

I cannot describe with certainty all that I saw at Xerox. I was working on Apple ][ products at the time and only visited one time. I remember being so impressed that I saw that anyone who used a system like theirs would never go back. The mouse and windows on a screen, with a lot of software working on it, plus the SmallTalk language stick out the most in my mind. Steve Jobs had a great determination to make this available to the common people buying masses of personal computers.

It's significant to note that Apple may well have developed such a machine without the Xerox visit, or any knowledge of their products. A few outside companies were already marketing bit-mapped software shells for the Apple ][. These only ran one program at a time, as the Macintosh was at first, but were mainly text based. A few graphics-included examples were popping up. The LISA and Macintosh just took this to a very complete level, with the base GUI functionality programmed into the OS.

I would work with Steve Jobs as long as the capacity were one in which I could contribute. I think that the problem is that I've been away from technology for a while, concentrating on making computers understandable within the schools, and maintaining computer and network (LAN/WAN/Internet) operations. So I'm not sure where that would fit. It would have to be a perfect fit to drag me from my home and kids too. More likely Steve would not want to work with me, due to my having sort of 'dropped out' of current advanced technologies, with the risk of having low energy for it.

Museum of Computing

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Question from E-mail

Thanks so much for talking to me during my recent phone call. Trying to contact [you] via the website is virtually impossible! As I explained, I am on the board of a new Museum of Computing which is going to be built in Lubbock, Texas. I have been asked to take charge of the Apple displays to include Apple 1, Apple ][, Apple III and Lisa and Mac. We would like to recreate the famous garage where the Apple 1 systems were assembled. We are convinced this would be very interesting to all of the visitors, especially the young ones! But there is a problem...I have no idea what the layout of the garage was! If we recreate this famous scene, we would like it to be fairly accurate. Can you help me? Here is my home address and home phone and e-mail address. Thanks in advance and waiting to hear from you!

Woz

First, the Apple I (and Apple ][) computers were entirely designed and tested and debugged in my Cupertino apartment (not the garage) and in my cubicle at Hewlett Packard in Cupertino (that 'calculator' division is now in Corvallis, Oregon). The PC boards of the Apple I were made in Santa Clara. As soon as they came off the production line (only 200 total were manufactured) components and chip sockets were inserted by workers and the board were wave soldered there. This was the major manufacturing step. We'd drive down and pick up a batch of boards and then drive them to the garage. We'd pay Patti Jobs and other friends $1 per board to insert all the chips from boxes of chips that we had. The garage had a single engineering workbench with a mylar top and a shelf. A monitor and transformers and keyboard, the other 3 pieces of an Apple I, were on it, as well as an oscilloscope of mine and maybe a soldering iron. I'd hook up a PC board and try it out. If it seemed to work, it would go in the 'good' stack. If it was bad I'd look at the microprocessor data and address pins with the oscilloscope. If I saw a missing signal it meant that a chip had a pin out of a socket. If a signal seemed like two fighting signals (halfway between high and low) it meant that two traces were shorted on the PC board. About half of the boards had such problems.

The workbench (lab table) was mounted right up to the garage door. So if you were seated at the workbench and someone opened the garage door you'd be looking straight out. We also had a small container of spare parts, like chips, in small pullout drawers. It sat on some table behind the workbench. There were no manuals or drafting tables or other design aids here. I can't tell you much more.

About the IIGS

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Question from E-mail

My question to you is: Do you regret the demise of the II line in the same way that many of its enthusiasts did (and do)? Was the IIGS a promise of more great things to come, with built in command line interface, backwards compatibility, ease of use and a great OS, or simply a compromise "bridge" that was made in a half hearted attempt to appease the large number of II users? I still remember the bitter disappointment when the IIGSx (10mhz, 640x480 video - yohoo!) never came out.

Woz

Your question has more than a single answer. I don't regret the fact that the Apple ][ was demised. Even I switched for good reasons. I do regret the fact that because there was superior technology, Apple gave up on the Apple ][ support too fast and drastically. It's strong sales should have been supported and gradually switched to products like the Apple ///, the LISA, and the Macintosh. For the last 3 years that the Apple ][ was the best selling personal computer in the world, Apple had almost totally withdrawn from it.

I think that this might have been personally motivated. Everyone wants to claim credit for this marvelous invention and the most notable company formation of recent times. The best way is to invent another marvelous computer that overshadows the first. None of the people running Apple had really conceived or invented or designed the Apple ][. Naturally, they needed another good one to demonstrate their own prowess. In the case of the Apple /// and the Macintosh, those in charge didn't want to support the Apple ][ much because it was strong competition with their own products. The LISA team really didn't bring much conflict to bear, at least not that I perceived directly.

A lot of the problem in Apple bringing such satisfying products to market is that the personal computer market exploded, and products have to be rushed to market without the psychological research and product corrections to make them really nice and easy, the way it was supposed to be. I still believe in the LISA dreams of the software being so obvious to use that it was hard to make a mistake and that mistakes were clearly explained. These dreams, of a computer being so helpful to people, were carried over to the Macintosh. But time has proven that we didn't do a very good job of appeasing the users. In my opinion, Windows did much worse, but to be fair it might be because there are so many more companies and companies making products for PC's, with correspondingly more conflicts and artifacts that are impossible to handle properly. The Macintosh has the advantage of fewer options and therefore fewer conflicts. In these terms, you can see why the Apple ][ was so satisfying, it had very little that could mess you up.

What kind of religious beliefs do you have?

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Question from E-mail

I was still in diapers when you and Steve Jobs started Apple in his parents garage. When I was in grade school my father bought me an ADAM computer (Z80) made by Coleco. Soon after that I was turned to the Apple //e. I remember very vividly the first time, at a convention, the first LISA. I was mesmerized. I first start using the MAC 512 in school, the newspaper. I used them until I graduated from school. I had every thing from the 512 to the Power Mac. Then because of the ever rising price of computers I was forced to turn the enemy, IBM. I now own both.

I was wondering how much you used the IBM compatible computers if ever?? Also, who decided to leave the bite out of the Apple in the logo?? You have seemed to be a very concerned person, kudos on your outlook on life. What is your outlook on the afterlife? What kind of religious beliefs do you have? Please reply, and thank you for your contributions to world that I grew up in .

 

Woz

I barely used the IBM compatables in early times. I kinda' liked the "junior" or something but nobody else did. I use them once in a while these days, when they are needed for my network administration. But I work around them as much as possible. I have a friend who has to use them and develop for and on them and he hates them just as much and always uses a Mac if there's any way. In his case, he's definitely expert enough on both platforms, the PC's are just more difficult.

I talked myself into some very strong religious beliefs around the start of college, and before too. I was very good and pure and generally only crossed streets at the corners and didn't drink or smoke or use drugs or participate in wild things. My religion was a pact with myself. I was very independent and had been strongly influenced by writers like Emmerson and Thoreau. I wasn't to be a follower. I wouldn't conform to my peers and do things just because they did them. If I was to get drunk it would have been alone only, because I had a reason and not just to follow others. I wouldn't join any church because then you're just going along with a bunch of other people. Is it that hard to figure out what's good and bad? I had nothing against the bible but didn't really read it. I admired Jesus. He must have been great to be so well remembered 2000 years later, and his turning the other cheek meant something akin to being good to those who are bad to you or say bad things about you. I picked up a lot of my internal religion cues from Dylan songs and Paul Simon songs (the "Boxer") and Dave Mason ("We just Disagree") and others to this day. I love popular music for these sorts of insights.

My favorite religious person was an engineer at Hewlett Packard who was also a Mormon (but not the former Mormon who was the lab manager and who turned down the idea of a computer, not as the movie shows but rather because he couldn't justify it as an HP product despite the fact that he loved it very much). Bill said that when people say that they have inner goodness, how can you tell if they're telling the truth. Outer things like the clothes they wear or the college they graduated don't mean as much as how they feel about and treat people, what's in their heart. He explained that he didn't forego coffee and other things because they were evil or bad or unhealthy. But these sorts of sacrifices are on the outside where everybody can see. Others can't see your inside but they can see these things. If you make such sacrifices for you religion and never waver, people can see that you hold true to your religion's tenets and beliefs, they can see that you must be true to these other tenets of being good as well.

Lisa vs Mac

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Question from E-mail

My father gave the ][ away a few years ago to a school where the kids used it for "Turtle Graphics". For what it's worth, you were a bit of a hero among me and my friends back then - we knew that you were the hardware guy, and Jobs the business guy. As I recall, and this may be totally wrong, the belief was that Jobs was behind the Lisa, and your "response" was the Mac.

Woz

Very wrong. Steve Jobs was behind bringing the Xerox technology to Apple and building good products with it. But he eventually fell into disfavor with the LISA group. Naturally, the Macintosh became a bit of striking back for him. That's my opinion. I liked all the people on the Mac team very much, even Steve, but my plane crash kept me from it.