Steve Jobs

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.

Woz HP BASIC

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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.

Putting the personal into PC

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Thank you for putting the personal into PC. As an engineer I appreciate your ethical and moral approach to technogy and your commitment to education.

Woz

I have to be honest. I'm into children being precocious and being somewhat problems. If too heavily protected they might have too boring a life. But when you play tricks on people or take other negative actions (copy software) then you should have some solid, logical, ethical thinking that convinces you that you believe in your reasons enough to tell other people what you do and why. That's the ethical hacker approach.

My own keys to happiness include knowing that I'm good and that logical truth reigns and in knowing that I don't have to convince other people to believe in that which I do. My life was successful when these keys came to me, before college even. Hey, a built-in religion with no church, and no group to agree with all the time, is the best for me. I just stayed very young in my beliefs all these years.

My commitment to education and to children in schools was with me all my life. In the movie they show the time Steve and I and his girl friend wore Alice in Wonderland costumes in a shopping mall. It was a joy of my life. I even took a week's vacation from my job as an engineer at Hewlett Packard to take this minimum wage job. Steve doesn't look back on it as a great thing in life but I do.

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.

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

Graduation prank

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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.

About Steve J.

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As far as personalities go... I know Steve was/is your friend, but was he really as much of an A--hole as depicted in the movie. You seemed to be one of a hand full of people to keep a cool head and remain 'true-to-yourself' once the $$$ started rolling in.

Woz

Well, Steve pushes to get greatness. It turns a lot of people off and burns some out. I'm just too polite with people, shy actually, to behave this way. I decided when younger that the thing that was most important was having people like you.

I cried twice

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By the way, I forgot to mention that I read an article on you about you being at the Macworld expo. Here is a piece of it:

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was spotted walking over to the exhibit hall after the speech. "I cried," said Wozniak, in reaction to Jobs' decision. "It felt just like the old days, with Steve making announcements that shook my world."

Come back to Apple computers Woz! It would help the company and give it some good publicity!

Woz

Well, I did actually cry at two places. The imovie with the kids was so good, and then when Steve announced his CEO plans it felt like yesterday's dreams had returned.

2 questions

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What do you think about Steve Jobs being CEO again?

Who has made the biggest impact on your life?

Woz

- I think that he has a good head that does common sense things. Even his experiences away from Apple helped him see other important aspects of the world and markets.

- My father, followed by my high school electronics teacher who hand the most excellent course and who arranged for me to program computers at a local company since our school had no computers. My father taught me electronics whenever I needed the knowledge and gave me strong ethical and educational values.

Steve Jobs job

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What kind of a job do you think Steve is doing at Apple?

Woz

I think that he is doing a good job of belt tightening first, getting the company healthy, and then moving forward from there. Apple is doing more than any other company to advance what computers are.