Comment from E-mail

What an ordinary person like myself who doesn't have any connection, can do to acquire the privilege of establishing contact with a man of your stature? In 1992 I heard and read about you for the first time. I wanted to contact you ever since that time. I admired your drive and achievements. I am writing you now because I am planning to initiate an important project of my own. I need to discuss it with someone of your quality and caliber. I am in need of some personal advice, approval and support. I must get it right this time. I can not afford to make any mistake. Why? I am a 55 year old man, married for the last 12 years and have a five year old boy who is my whole world. I was a mortgage banker and a small real estate investor until several years ago. when the real estate crunch came to southern California, I lost it all and ever since that time my struggle began. I only hope if you approve of the project, you would then grant me the opportunity of a meeting with an investor. As I seem to have difficulty meeting with a credible one on my own. $175,000 is what it takes to initiate the project. I sincerely believe this amount as small as it may seem, can turn our lives around. You are our last hope. will you please help? I realize at this time of year successful people like yourself are usually very busy. Thus, I would be grateful if you could spare a few moments of your busy schedule to talk with me about my project at your convenience. Any advice whatsoever would be greatly appreciated. With your help I have no doubt I will make it this time. Happy holiday Steve.

Woz

Your need is worthwhile but I can't invest in or give time to the huge number I receive. I do wish you the best.

All terms: Advice
Comment from E-mail

I am in class right now learning SQL and hope to be a successful developer. I just had some questions that I hope you can address on your main page if you get asked enough.

Q1: Your biography said you just realized in Hawaii that one day you didn't want to invent and program any more, that you wanted a simpler life, is this true that you wanted a easier life?

Q2: I would really like to hear your advice for being a successful person not just in the IT world but in life in general?

Q3: I also wanted to email you just to see if I got a personal response from you, I understand that you are probably really busy so maybe I will write you again a few year from now. Even a generic email would be fine.

And you know you should take a break sometimes and not spend so much time sending emails , your fans will understand, I do!

Woz

A1: I wanted time for my young kids and I got that. I am having a tough time at the moment, mainly due to constant email. The show misled viewers in some aspects. I have 5 hours of email to handle on the easiest day of the year, maybe New Years day, but 8 to 20 hours most days. After a show like the A&E Special, I get a lot. ...Woz

A2: Don't set up your life with situations and cares where you may likely frown. Keep joking and laughing.

A3: Thank you for the generous comments. I'm glad that I was able to remain the person I was and not be changed by Apple's success. Is that generic enough? I'm sending it to lots of people but only after reading their email and feeling it's correct. A computer response would never be right all the time.

AMEN!...Woz

All terms: Hawaii, SQL
Comment from E-mail

Sorry to add to the likely incredible spate of email you are likely getting after the Biography special, but I just really didin't think I could NOT drop you a line, even if it is getting awfully late here. I just thought I should take the opportunity to thank you, and to ask your advice. You can ignore the rest of the message from here on if you want to, and I will not be (too) :hurt, since its not your job to be an advice columnist.

First of all, thanks for the Apple II and all its progeny. Its had a major impact on my life. In 1978, I was eight years old when my dad introduced me to the first Apple II that the University of Saskatchewan ever bought. He was (and is) a prof in Educational Technology at the U of S, so I always got to play with the newest and coolest technologies when I was young. I've been an Apple person ever since (I'm writing this from my G4 400 at home). I'm a user support person at the U of S now, supporting Mac users in the Health Sciences at our university. So, I make a comfortable living off those ideas you had so long ago (in computer years, of course). But, you know (and you prabably do, from what they said about you in the Biography special), its more than that, more than just a way to make a living. Its (to me at least) a philosophy, a dream almost. Apple was always the company that helped people do things, to solve problems and to do it in a way that was friendly and understandable and different from the conventional. I have always tried to keep to that philosophy in my work life, and I think I have been relatively successful over the past 12 years.

That dream is threatened for me now, as it has been for some time. The writing is on the wall at my institution as far as I can tell. Macs are on the way out at the U of S, to be replaced in due time by (what else,) a Microsoft-dominated solution. Some small, rational part of my brain tells me that this is no big deal, they are only computers, I have skills that are applicable no matter what computer platform or group of people I am working with. But there is another part of me, deeply ingrained, that hates to see the dream die at my institution. I hate to see people say "Oh, we are getting rid of our Macs because everybody else has PCs, and we need to be compatible. It's too much work to keep the Macs." I hate to see the machines that I have always associated with "nice guys" (like yourself) be replaced by machines powered by a company that seems to win by forcing everyone to conform to its standards and crushing anyone that does not conform. The two companies were started by people with dreams, but from my point of view they are vastly different dreams.

My question for you (oh wise one :>) is, since you are the original dreamer who started us all down this path, what should I do? Should I listen to that rational part of my brain? If I had already, I would not be writing this email. Should I give up the fight? That is essentially what it has become, a fight for survival of the Macintosh, both in my local situation and on a global scale. It isn't supposed to be a fight, I suspect you are thinking, and you never intended for it to be [and its not really your responsibility, and why the heck do people email you and ask you these kind of questions anyway? :>]. But I am really kinda stumped here, and I am hoping you have maybe faced this type of question before in your personal life.

And maybe you could do me a really big favor. If you still have any contact with the other Steve, and let him know that there are people out here in this kind of situation (more than one in this town at least). Ask him what he is going to do for all the people like me that have subscribed to what is essentially (as I see it) your dream (Besides telling us all that we need serious psychiatric help :>. That's that little rational part of my brain butting in again!). He needs to be very careful, because the next year or so is going to make or break Apple(even if people have been saying that from 1982 on, this time it may really be true), and there is only so long that us "Mac Faithful" can remain that way (By the way, moving to fee for incident service on the Apple help line may make financial good sense, but it is suicide for Apple's rapport with its users, particularly when in many cases when people like me call the support personnel at Apple learn new things as well).

If you have read this far, thanks for listening, and I am really glad to know that a nice guy can once in a while finish first. Maybe there's hope for me yet! :>

Woz

I understand your anxiety and frustrations and sadness because I live them every day of my life. I have the same fears as you.

There was a time, perhaps between 1984 and 1993, when the Macintosh alone stood for a new humanistic world of computers. The Macintosh dreams included concepts like software that was so clear that you could intuitively figure out what to do. If you made mistakes, the computer gently told you what you'd done and guessed what you wanted to do and told you how to do it or offered to do it for you. Error messages were understandable and complete. Everything was plug and play and nothing went wrong. The GUI world needs little explanation.

The PC world in this time frame lived with less human concepts of computing and claimed that their way was correct and better for serious work. The Macintosh approaches for normal people (humans) made it too weak a machine for real work. We Macintosh users knew how much baloney this was and we held onto our good and correct dreams for humanity.

Now all computers have a GUI. But they all fail in the areas of what I call the Macintosh dreams. Software is crap wherever you look. Layouts aren't standard enough to follow. Messages are incomprehensible. Dialogs and menus lead you to wrong choices and unintended errors. Software crashes too much. It loses data. Files get corrupted. Checkboxes are used when radio buttons are called for. Operations become deactivated at particular times for no reason, other than that you might have hit some key in a particular hundredth of a second.

Both Microsoft and Apple are monopolies. Mostly, dedicated Macintosh users buy Macintoshes and they won't likely buy a PC. The number of Macintoshes sold does not depend on how much quality is in the software. The dreams are nearly dead. With no incentive to create intuitive and modeless software, like Control Panels for instance, that actually work, why should any company try to make them better for humans to use? The emphasis is always on some new product and the broken and non-working crap that's around just sits forever. I'm amazed at how many times I see software that takes steps backwards from great things that were done more correctly and humanly before.

Technology and the money of big corporations has become much more important than human beings. That was not the original intent of personal computers. They were to put more power in the individual's hand. As we store our data and apps on the internet, our computing world becomes a big corporate entity that makes individuals less and less important in the process. The era of truly personal computers is fading in many ways. The computer platform we use is becoming less and less important. This may be a boon to Apple, but there are many forces working against it, all for the sake of money. Apple has to be very different than all the others in terms of what it's products symbolize to buyers. Right now, it's the "think different" campaign. Some of us will make sacrifices to be included in that category.

A lot has been lost. Apple is not the only example.

Comment from E-mail

I couldn't love a machine as much as the passion that was put into building it. I bet you had more fun building that middle finger than you ever did making calculators. Or at least I would like to think you did. That is all I wanted to communicate to you. from one designer to another, or from one human being to another. Passion is a good thing.

Woz

You're right. Steve Jobs and Allen Baum and myself made it. The graduation was Steve Jobs' and it was at our high school. We spent 4 nights in a row working out a scheme that wound up with two ramps guiding 2 skates over the edge of a 2-story building right where half of the graduates exited after graduating. The skates pulled the sheet over. Tennis shoes and other things kept the sheet from blowing away. The skates were weighted down. Everything, including the tennis shoes, was tied together so that it couldn't hit anyone on the head below. 40 lb. Fishing line held the skates at the top of the 2 ramps and ran down the side of the building.

The next morning the sign was down. Steve and I determined that the line had been cut at about waist height. It hadn't torn. The next year, at Berkeley, I ran into one of the seniors working on another senior prank the last night that we got our sign working. He said that Steve Jobs had told them what we were doing up on the roof and had even shown them where the fishing line was. So they cut it themselves for fun. Too bad, it would have been funny.

We tried another very ambitious graduation prank there the next year but that's another story.

When you die, I think that your ration of laughs to frowns is the most important thing to judge.

All terms: Allen Baum, Prank, Steve Jobs
Comment from E-mail

Yesterday, I watched your biography on A&E TV. Very impressive and depressing at the same time. Impressive because of your accomplishments. Inventing the PC and promoting concerts that's amazing. Depressing to see that you were kind of left out and used by Steve Jobs (at least that was my impression after watching a movie and your biography) and to think that was it.

I believe there is more to come. Invention wise. You changed the world like not many others, so whats next. My suggestion is to make apple computer more interesting for PC user. Like making it possible to use PC software? (There is more available and it's cheaper) What about using the Mac system usable on a PC for testing purposes.

Here is the catch: I would like you to check out our [motorcycle] web site and let me know what you think about it.

I know that you get tons of e mails and you are busy like everyone else but I would appreciate your comments or an advice.

Woz

It's hard to explain the concept of my being overrun by Steve Jobs. I'd say that I did design some incredible machines that may have been a needed step to kicking off this new market, as Mike Markkula said in the biography. But someone like Steve Jobs was needed to turn that product into a corporate success and to change the world and get them accepting it. So we both had important roles. My role was much more short lived but I put everything into it and could have done no better. I would never have wanted the attention and responsibility for more than my own work, which is what Steve Jobs has. I had certain strong personal ethics that would have rendered me a poor businessman, regardless of how much training I could have come by.

Your web site is quite exciting. If I were younger and freer I'd want to join up. I did commute for years on my motorcycle to Apple, and the feeling of a bike is the most fun thing ever in my life. It was much more fun than flying planes. It was like skiing to work every day, riding in the open air. I never wore strongly protective clothing but I was cautious and never went down while riding once I got my license. I always hoped that I'd give up riding before crashing and after a decade I did just that, although I always take the motorcycle test to keep my license valid.

All terms: motorcycles
Comment from E-mail

I am better than everyone I know at computers. That's why I choose Linux because it was more advanced. Windows sucks and there aren't enough non-desktop publishing apps ported to the Mac. But I would choose a Mac over windows, because Windows is always crashing and its slow and looks awful. But it has the most apps. You cant win all the time.

Woz

For different people, different platforms are the best. It's closely integrated with how we view ourselves too. Windows is too closely associated with corporations excluding the Macintosh platform as a form of corporate bigotry, that I find it too offensive to use as a person. Linux does suffer from a lack of apps for some kinds of people, notably Macintosh users. But I have yet to hear that Linux is as bad as any other platform in it's possibilities.

All terms: Linux, Windows
Comment from E-mail

I posted this in SlashDot, but it probably won't make it to you, so I'll pose this to you personally. In your opinion, is there room in the industry for another Apple, where a couple of guys get together, start with nothing, and launch something amazing? Or has the industry gotten too overgrown? One of my fascinations is technological history, so I watched "Pirates" with baited breath (somewhat disappointed, however). I have had countless daydreams about meeting one of the industry pioneers - what I would say, what we'd talk about, the responses I'd get. If I ever make it down to San Jose (I'm up in Spokane, WA), is that offer for a cup of coffee still open? Thanks for your time, and God Bless.

Woz

It may make it to me. I'm answering some selected slashdot questions tomorrow.

I think that it's always possible for what we did to be done again. It would normally require a once-in-a-decade new market opening up to be huge, one that established companies can't address or don't address. Right now the whole world is switching to internet services instead of what preceded. This phenomenon is just at it's start yet there are countless opportunities for young people with nothing to create a big success here, even though most are achieved by business people from before. But look at successes like Yahoo and Netscape that came from unknowns.

The problem is always that I can't say what the unknown opportunity is. If I could, so could millions of others and nobody could be successful by themselves.

All terms: Apple, Pirates, SlashDot
Comment from E-mail

I am a traditional country singer who grew up traveling on the road with Merle Haggard. Legendary songwriter Hank Cochran is producing my first CD now with Merle involved. We plan to make it REAL country.

Woz

Just a week ago I was listening to the only great radio show here (KSJC's "Lubbock or Leave It" and one of the songs, that just made me cry with thoughts of how lousy most of today's country music is, was an old Merle Haggert one. It wasn't "Okie" but sounded similar. When I hear this sort of stuff I just realize that I missed a lot of the music that would have been 'mine'.

Comment from E-mail

And Emmy Lou is a friend of mine! That is great that she played at your wedding! Did you meet the Road Mangler, Phil Kaufman? He was her road manager and has become quite a celebrity in his own right...

Woz

I'm not good with remembering people or names and I don't try to get too friendly with performers because I feel that I'm one of hundreds bugging them. So I barely recall the name Phil but don't really know him.

What I liked about Emmy Lou was the nature of the music and words that she sang, as well as her incredible voice. Also, the folks that she was associated with (Rodney, Rosanne Cash, Guy Clark, Steve Goodman, and the like) tended toward these great word songs that got beneath the surface.

Comment from E-mail

Charlie Daniels Jr is my best friend. He and Big Charlie both are big Macintosh fanatics! I sent the link to your site to Charlie yesterday when I found it. He is vacationing in Colorado and has his Powerbook with him. He was going to pay you a visit.

Woz

Kewl

All terms: Macintosh