Mac

Apple in schools

in
Comment from E-mail

I'm a teacher too. I work in Clovis California, for the Clovis Unified School District. Recently the technology direction of my school district has been under a former Silicon Valley "techno-it-all". Under his regime we have no longer been able to purchase any Apple product at all because "the real world" uses PC's and Apple is going out of business as everyone knows. My school is a lone member of the dwindling rebel alliance that still survives (barely) in this oppressive climate. It wouldn't bother me if other schools chose on their own what they wanted to use. If they wanted IBM's, well that's fine! I would at least like some creative autonomy. What I want to know from you is would you work in a school district like this ? What would you do ? No one seems to be willing to stand up for the individuals. It's all about conformity.

Woz

We've heard that abused children grow up to be abusers. If the technical staff of a school and the individual teachers are treated with a lack of respect their self esteem is lowered. This gets passed on to their students. Teachers that prefer Macintosh should be allocated Macintosh. The technical support group should not override this as long as the teacher is willing to provide the needed support, or knows that the technical staff may not be able to provide it. If your school district is large enough to justify even a single Apple technical support person, one should be added for this purpose. Macintosh/PC networks work a dozen ways.

We work that way in our own, primarily Macintosh, district. Basically, a single person and a few part time techs keep 600 Macintosh computers running, using a file management tool to keep the computer software maintained automatically. Macintosh NetBoot, available for newer Macintosh computers, helps minimize the maintenance for Macs as well.

Woz HP BASIC

in
Comment from E-mail

When Apple moved from the Apple ][ line to the Mac line, where and why was the decision to move to a closed architecture? I thought that Apple suitors were the hobbyist and as such would have more of a hardware/software development contribution... In reflection on programming graphics with peek and poke, I was wondering why an interpreted language rather than a compiled language was developed. Was this the Microsoft DEC BASIC vs. Woz HP BASIC approach we discussed previously?

Woz

The closed architecture was in line with attempts to bring computers down to less technical people. Does the phrase "for the rest of us" ring a bell. Although that phrase referred to the way the software worked, there was a strong feeling that some people were turned off by too much visible technology. There might have been personal reasons within Apple to minimize the technology aspect, since the technology emphasis came largely from me and not the other Apple execs. I don't feel that it was a good or needed thing to restrict access like this. Even the designers wanted more access and at least a "test" port but Steve Jobs nixed that.

I'd never written a computer language or studied writing one. I'd also never used BASIC, only FORTRAN and ALGOL and a number of machine languages. But it was clear that BASIC was the best language for an early home computer because of the ease of learning and using it and the many games available in BASIC. So I pulled out an HP manual and wrote my syntax diagrams based on that. It was a little different, mainly with strings, than the DEC BASIC.

I always understood that FORTRAN could be compiled but BASIC was an interpreted language. It's late and I'm not sure why BASIC has to be interpreted but an easy language for small programs is quicker to use when you can enter new lines and run them right away without compiling. It also takes less RAM. We didn't even have a floppy disk then.

Thank you

in
Comment from E-mail

I doubt this will be actually read by you but here goes.I want to thank you for your contribution to this world the Apple computer!My first experience with a computer was in middle school(`83)I believe. I used the Apple II computer.I remember just typing commands that would spell something after I typed the word "run"..lol.. Later in high school I took basic programming but unfortunately didn't go any further with it. My interests were mostly in playing games.I remember a friend of mine got a Mac and we would play Ultima IV for hours. This was sometime in the eighties.Now its the year 2000 and six months ago I purchased a Emachines 400i computer.Man things have changed so much.I feel totally lost in the computer world today.I cant keep up with the upgrade madness. Did you ever envision that your invention would go this far? In closing I want to say its really nice to be able to talk to a forefather of the computer age.

Woz

I didn't think that I'd actually get to write to you, but here goes...

It's hard to catch up with everything that's happened, but the world is getting to the point that you can come in new and learn just the new ways, mostly on the web, and do OK. Even my mom does OK.

If I ever thought that it would get this complicated and a nightmare to maintain more than a couple of computers, I would have probably not have done it.

Inaccurate ending of "Pirates"

in
Comment from E-mail

I was not terribly happy with the very inaccurate ending of "Pirates." If I remember correctly, Microsoft helped Apple in order to not be sued by Apple for infringing on Apple's patents. Microsoft agreed to work on Office for the Mac and they also agreed to buy non-voting stock (which could be converted) in order to keep Apple from suing them... What is your spin!

Woz

You see what many miss, exactly. Plus, the stock is essentially from the shareholders, paid for with dilution, and is worth as much as it costs, on the average. So Microsoft lost nothing, Apple gained $125M, and it's shareholders lost $125M. But that loss was really a necessary and proper investment which was recovered (by the shareholders) once it helped the company become more healthy.

Apple saved my life

in
Question from E-mail

Just a note to say thanks for all you have done for Apple. Your contributions go a lot farther than you think. I grew up in a very inappropriate atmosphere... exposed to drugs and violence at a young age. My family life was the pits and I ended up on my own at the age of 15. I think one of the things that helped me keep my head on straight was the Apple computer. My elementary school principal was the first person in our town to own a computer (Apple II) and he had it in his office. One day, during a counseling session (family problems) he noticed I had an extreme interest in it and offered to let me use it for an hour a day. Little did I know that over the next few years my addiction to computers would make me see the world more clearly... make me realize I wanted more from life. Today I'm a photographer for the U.S. Air Force and use high end Macs at work all the time. I am currently working on my degree in computer science and hope to get it within a couple years. I'm happily married with four beautiful daughters that have no worries other than being children... just the way it should be. Apple is now a part of my children's lives as they use our iMac at home.

I know you are well known for your contributions as an engineer... but your contributions to Apple changed my life.

Woz

I never imagined how many extremely touching emails like this one would arrive. There should be a book of all these stories where computers basically saved people's lives and gave them direction and purpose. I'm glad that someone with your values has some children to share computers with. We feature famous people in our ads but we should be featuring people like yourself instead.

The fact that your children have an iMac at home to use lends credibility to your comment about Apple changing your life.

I think that you just got tired

in
Comment from E-mail

I also see in the same book, (Infinate Loop) that you lost your drive and your edge, and that some say you got caught up being the WOZ..... I think that you just got tired.

Woz

It's possible that I lost my drive and edge. But did I lose my drive and then go in other directions because of it, or did I go in other directions and find great satisfaction and let some things, like engineering, slip away? The truth is closer to the latter. My kind of intense, best in the world, engineering was very very hard and I knew that no human could keep it up for long. When I departed Apple a second time it was to start a company and make a small programmable remote control. I did engineering and wrote the code for one of the internal microprocessors myself. I used a Mac, an Apple ][c, and an Apple ][e throughout this development, those were my main tools (the Mac for non-engineering things). The code for the second, and main, microprocessor wasn't coming easily so I flew to Hawaii to work on it for a week without phone calls and interruptions. Every day for a month I loved looking out to the sea. I came back and decided right then to hire other engineers for this task. I looked more at my young children. Other personal changes ensued. I've remained pretty comfortable ever since, although I never have a minute without something to do. But what do you expect with lots of kids still in school.

I do feel more tired today than back 'then' and I do want to take life easy. But I remember while designing the Apple I and Apple ][ explaining to people that I was actually lazy, and designed things with very few chips so I'd have less construction to do and less to debug. I used this 'laziness' excuse with my software being tight also. Maybe I believed in laziness even back then, even while I designed 2 computers and peripherals and wrote BASIC and much more code, all in a year, all while working days at Hewlett Packard.

Pc or Mac?

in
Question from E-mail

My question is, would you personally have any hesitancy at this point in time to make a fairly large investment in a Macintosh computer? I want to go with Mac, but I keep getting hit with "PC's are just as good and less expensive" and "Mac OS isn't going to be around much longer." Since I am NOT an engineer who understands the details of operating systems, a lot of the explanations of why PC's have or have not caught up are lost on me. But I do know that my computers have been a dream to work on.

Woz

My time is pretty short and these are just my opinions:

The answer is possibly in what you need to do with the computer. Different platforms might have an advantage for certain tasks. Assuming that the PC and Mac both qualify here, the answer is in your own psychology. Do you want to be a part of the Mac struggle. We are a closely knit group that tries to help each other a lot and find solutions when they are needed. Because it's more important to us, we are extremely passionate about our platform. You might prefer the safety of the most (not best) software selections or the most friends to help you fix things. It's no fun to fix any computer problem, but from what I hear, PC's are much much worse here.

I hope that this helps you. It's strange, asking ME to advise you for or against the Mac.