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I, Woz 247

Posted by Zonk
from the wozinator dept.
theodp writes "In a Q&A session, Steve Wozniak discusses his forthcoming autobiography, how HP not only passed on his Apple design but also nixed his pleas to work on an HP computer, and the perks of being an Apple co-founder - free 65W AC adapters!"
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I, Woz

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  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @07:27AM (#15104609) Homepage

    It'll be nice to get an autobiography from Woz, but the problem with many autobiographies is that they show you just one side of a person, and in the tech industry that can be dull. I think that gossipy histories like Apple Confidental 2.0 [amazon.com] are superior, as they present a whole range of viewpoints and better show a person in context with other historical actors.

    Still, I'm curious if Woz will write anything about the challenges he faced at early Apple from rude coworkers. He wasn't exactly treated fairly by Jobs and the company in its fledgling days, and a personal perspective would be interesting.

  • Re:Woz and Jobs (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @07:55AM (#15104685)
    Both Gates & Jobs are grand bullshit artists, but I don't think Gates has the personality to achieve the same status as Jobs has. I suspect that if he did, the perception of Microsoft wouldn't be nearly as bad as it is now. The other interesting thing is that Jobs started out with questions like "How can I change the world?" while Gates' was "How can I make a lot of money?" Jobs & Gates might have both ended up at the same point, with the bank balances to prove it, but Jobs seems to have had a lot more fun getting there. Gates has been more single minded, but doesn't seem to have the love for his work that Jobs does.

    I'd better disclaim myself: I am not an Apple or Microsoft share holder, and I've never owned a Mac or any other Apple product.
  • Re:Woz and Jobs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:06AM (#15104720) Homepage

    Without Jobs there would be no Apple, Woz would have stuck at HP and written printer drivers.

    Even writing printer drivers can lead to great things. After all, it was a printer problem that spurred Richard Stallman [stallman.org] towards development of GNU, which of course became the foundation for the later flourishing of Free Software and the open source development model. (Sam William's biography Free as in Freedom [amazon.com] published by O'Reilly gives the whole story of the printer problem.) You don't need to hook up with a charismatic individual with a reality distortion field to change the world. If a controversial eccentric like Stallman can do great things from a hermit-like AI lab, then Woz would have had opportunities even without Jobs.

  • Hey Woz! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:13AM (#15104750) Homepage Journal

    I see that you have a nice list of your friends web pages [woz.org] on your site which is great, including the link to Kevin Mitnick's [freekevin.com] site which is nice because he was in jail and everything but now it redirects to Kevin's new business [mitnicksecurity.com] which I don't have any problem with either, except that Mitnick has actualy spent time in jail for doing bad things to people and their systems [wikipedia.org] and now seems to make money advising people how to steer clear of people like himself.

    I'm not making any suggestions or anything, just pointing that out.

  • Re:Hey Woz! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Josh teh Jenius (940261) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:20AM (#15104770) Homepage

    FYI: The Minick story is about as tainted as any current discussion of Bush.

    Not defending either, mind you. I usually like Wiki too. At this point, the Mitnick story is nothing but a 2600 PR stunt from the 90's, which is sad, becuase it really was a fascinating legal case, and a wonderful precursor to the PATRIOT ACT.

    Read your history, kids.

  • Re:Hey Woz! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Code Herder (937988) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:29AM (#15104804)
    Woz isn't squeeky clean either, with the whole blue box deal etc.
  • Re:Hey Woz! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Josh teh Jenius (940261) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:47AM (#15104871) Homepage

    Sorry for the false-start there, guys.

    Let me say the following about our pal "free" Kevin:

    a) As a hacker in recovery, I have a *very* tainted opinion here.

    b) The suspension of Mr. Mitnick's Constitutional rights to due process were not justified.

    c) The suspension of those rights, in the interest of protecting "national security", set a dangerous precedent.

    The great thing about American law is that almost *everything* involved in the case is public record. If Google gives you grief, try Lexis Nexis.

    Rather than spout my own inane opinions, I'll just suggest anyone looking for a solid term paper topic try "Kevin Mitnick: a precursor to the PATRIOT ACT?".

    Only Kevin knows the "real" story, and like most hackers, he is far too egotistical to tell us the truth either. My interest in the case is not "w00t teh planet", but rather, the actions of our OWN judicial system, and their justification of those actions. Read the story. Find those facts. Then you tell me:

    Who was the bad guy in this case?

    P.S. Pro or con, agree or disagree, I'd love to read it if anyone takes me up on this.

    P.P.S. As other posters have pointed out: Gates stole DOS, Woz was a "hacker", and the definition of that term has been totally destroyed by politics and media.

    P.P.P.S. Seriously. You guys bitching about the misuse of "gay" have got NOTHING on the guys (like me) bitching about the misuse of "hacker".

  • Re:Woz and Jobs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 386spart (725207) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:48AM (#15104878)
    2) Bill Gates doesn't hold a visionary candle to Jobs

    I don't think that's true really, they just had different visions. Bills vision from a while back has been "a computer on every desk and in every home" and that has certainly happened, and almost all of those computers are running Windows.

    Jobs and Gates are different kinds of geniuses, but I agree that they are probably both much more rare than the Wozniak kind of genius. There are a lot of techies so skilled at something it feels like they can control it with their minds, but who - like Woz apparently - think about getting a job in a small room in a corporate concrete bunker rather than changing the world.
  • Re:From the article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kklein (900361) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:49AM (#15104882)
    I used to do tech support for Apple (outsourced). The official policy (from Apple) was "If Woz calls, give him whatever he wants and don't ask any questions." And one day I got him on the phone, he read me a list of SNs for out-of-warranty PowerBooks he needed repaired (he does something with PBs and disabled kids--or at least did in 1995), and I sent him the appropriate number of Airborne Express boxes for them to be pulled into NY for repair. It was one of the coolest calls I handled, cooler than when Howard Stern called for his friend who couldn't speak English. Both guys, BTW, were really really nice.
  • Re:he woz different (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grumling (94709) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @08:49AM (#15104885) Homepage
    "My goal wasn't to make a ton of money. It was to build good computers. I only started the company when I realized I could be an engineer forever."

    I woz truly blown away by this statement.

    Most real entrepreneurs want to make a product or perfom a service first, make money second. Money is what makes it all possible.

  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:05AM (#15104964) Homepage Journal
    the one who was not under the delusion that he could run a corporation

    Um, we're being ironic here, right?

    Woz and Jobs are definitely yin and yang, but they do have one thing in common: they know what's important to them. And that gives them a kind of power that verges on the spiritual. They don't, like most of us, blunder through the life taking the path of least resistance and rationizing their decisions after the fact. They have "purpose driven lives".

    As to who is happiest of the two Steves, I'd have to say that while Jobs probably feels the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat more intensely, I'd much rather be Woz, because he seems to be the kind of person who can find find satisfaction in each day's work. The thing that makes Jobs a bit creepy is that if you ever had his attention, you'd always wonder if it was because he had a use for you in some agenda. Woz is the kind of guy who just wants to do what he's good at, like a Shaker furniture maker. Because his motivations are simpler, you'd naturally feel more comfortable with him.
  • Re:Woz and Jobs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Weedlekin (836313) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:14AM (#15105001)
    "Xerox was ahead of its time."

    It was the pure R&D outfit that Xerox funded which was ahead of its time, not Xerox itself.

    "Steve was merely a good salesman that recognized something good when he saw it"

    Which was more than Xerox did, hence the fact that more than one of the computer visionaries at PARC left to work for Apple.
  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:21AM (#15105041) Homepage
    Woz, was and is a brilliant engineer. But there are hundreds like him. But there aren't many like Steve Jobs.

    I'm sorry but you have that backwards. Exceptional engineers are far less common than exceptional saleman.

    Steve Jobs IS Apple. Look what they did without him. 12 years of absolutely nothing. Steve Jobs launched the Macintosh.

    Jobs is the PR face of Apple and the Mac. The brilliant innovation started at Xerox and continued with the very talented engineers at Apple. Jobs is merely a good saleman who recognized a good thing when he saw it at Xerox. Like Woz, the Xerox and Apple engineers who deserve the real credit are overshadows by the PR face.

    Then he started NeXT which was a decade ahead of its time.

    Actually in business school they study NeXT as an example of how to royally f' up.

    Then he brought Apple back from near extinction. Can you think of another corporation that can yield such influence over an industry while having less than 10% market share?

    Actually what saved Apple were the big developers say "NO" to Jobs and forcing Jobs to put backwards compatibility into Mac OS X. Jobs return and the surrounding PR machine was like the Microsoft cash investment, it was reassuring, it bought the Apple engineers some more time.

    Oh, and somewhere in his spare time, he bought a little animation studio and turned it into a force.

    Again salesmanship, again a PR face overshadowing the real talent, ... Also note in this is an industry where salesmanship has a pretty heavy influence.

    Jobs is like World War II's General MacArthur. "I" rather than "We", camera crew filming his wading ashore and dominating the newsreels, ... Of course Jobs differs from MacArthur in that Jobs is not a genius.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:29AM (#15105093)
    One thing that really impressed me about Woz was that he answered an email I sent, unsolicited, and sent more than a cursory form mail response. He had jjust appeared on The Screen Savers a couple years ago and I thought, "waht the hell, I'll drop him an email and see what happens..." I just simply thanked him for his work and told of a couple ways that it had positively impacted my life and that I was appreciative. He responded with a very long email and related a couple anecdotes and was very open and witty. Seems like a genuinely good guy.
  • by meburke (736645) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:17AM (#15105904)
    My Dad knew General MacArthur personally, and suffered the consequences of that knowledge: He was shot at the battle of Agno Crossing, shot again and captured the day after Cristmas, survived the Bataan Death March (only, he says, because he was an officer) and spent 44 months in Japanese prison camps. Dad only expressed one criticism of MacArthur: MacArthur would not listen to views or acknowledge information that contradicted his own views or opinions. That is why the original conflict in the Phillipines was such a mess, and MacArthur's reputation is forever diminished in my mind by the hardship he caused American soldiers.

    On the other hand, MacArthur was part of a system, and once the necessities of the system overcame the individual idosyncracies of the persons responsible for operating the system, he contributed something valuable to the final outcome.

    The same is true of Steve Jobs: A business is a system. It requires certain talents and abilities in order to function. Sales without a good product will not survive, but an outstanding product without Sales will not survive either. In this case, the system provided both parties with what they wanted. They got to do what they wanted, they were rewarded for it, and (presumably) they both got satifaction and felt good about themselves from doing it. But without giving the system what it needed to function, neither would have been successful.

    Mike
  • by An ominous Cow art (320322) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:19PM (#15106443) Journal
    I agree. I heard him speak at the 5th HOPE a couple of years ago. Great guy.

    I have to admit I was disappointed to find out that he drove a %^&*ing Hummer, though.

A slow pup is a lazy dog. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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