Comment from E-mail

Hi Woz, I am a newbie to computers. I read an article in the Providence Journal about your speaking at Brown University. and decided to come visit your site. I couln't get the Woz Cam to work and don't know why. Could you help? Thank you, Carol

Woz

The WozCam software came from a company and it might need version 4 of Netscape or Internet Explorer to work fully. Otherwise, after you try to move the camera, you might have to click the Reload button.

If you're on a modem, the live operation will be very hard.

All terms: WozCam
Comment from E-mail

My only question is, what do you think of the iMAC? and do you have a favorite flavor? (two questions I cheated.)

Woz

I like the iMac very much. It's a computer that I don't have to assemble. I do have towers and I mainly use my PowerBook, but the iMacs are great to place around the house (all on Airport radio connection) for visitors to use. These iMacs get a lot of use for games and even video editing, and they needed very little setup.

Most people that I know don't want to learn all that it takes to load up computers and learn thousands of things about how to do certain things with them. For these people the iMac or iBook are the only products that I'd highly recommend (except, for some, WebTV).

All terms: iMac, WebTv
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.

All terms: Lisa, Xerox PARC
Comment from E-mail

My name is Matt S., I had come to your web site after searching for information on a unix file format. I have no idea how. Anyway, I have a few questions about you if you have a moment or two. I have seen pirates of silicon valley a few times and enjoyed it, I am glad to see that the movie has accurately reflected you (I'm not sure our worlds richest man is quite that stupid however). I want to know how you can work so much? Do you just view working with computers as a game or is it just extremely interesting to you? I am a programmer in a few different languages however I don't care much about money. That is unfortunate in that everyone today cares about getting rich and it becomes disheartening to enjoy computers with everyone caring about starting the next IPO and making millions. I would love to know what motivates you. How many hours can you code in a day and how do you keep going like that. I hope that I have not inconvenienced you and I understand if you cannot reply. I thank you for your time.

Woz

Working with computers was a lifetime passion for me.

At one point it came time to accept a lot of money and start a real company. But I had to leave my 'real' job designing calculator chips at Hewlett Packard. I thought deeply inside to what I was meant for and what I wanted to do with my life and I concluded that I wanted to design computers and other things, and to write software. I could easily do that with no company, and keep my job with the company that I loved. So I told Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula that I wouldn't start Apple.

I changed my mind upon being relieved of the stress of thinking that I had to run the company. I could still do the things that I loved to do within it, and make money too.

Comment from E-mail

CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHY APPLE CONTINUES TO IGNORE ITS CUSTOMERS WHO PLACED ADVANCED ORDERS LONG AGO? One thing to I've noticed about Mac users over the \past 15 years that i have been one, is their intense LOYALTY. Loyalty to a company that continually abuses that loyalty....What did i do other than spend tens of thousands of dollars on Apple products over the years, to deserve this abuse?

Woz

One very bad side effect of the technology revolution that we're in is that we get very poor customer support and communication. Voice mail is an example. Look how many times you have problems and companies keep telling you that it's another company's fault? Or that you must be mistaken.

Well, if you've been led to expect a certain shipment date then that's part of a contract with you. Gross miscommunication about when you'll get your product is wrong. But people these days have a hard time getting anything done about it or changed. I'm sure that it violates some laws, it's certainly close to fraud. Small claims court is a very cheap way to go but you'll have to indicate that you had good reason to believe that you'd have the computer long before now. One guy got $5000 in small claims court in San Jose for having 2 bad pixels on his screen (Apple couldn't show any public documents referring to their 'spec') so it can be won.

But, why don't you just buy an iBook at Sears or somewhere and not deal with Cyberian Outpost again. I myself don't deal with them after a weird credit card dealing on their part. Chalk this one up to a learning experience.

I'll share another story. On the few occasions that I arranged to get something early from inside Apple, I got horribly let down. Once it was for a LaserWriter, which was available in stores a few days later. It finally showed up, from Apple, 8 months later at twice the price. Right now I've been promised the new large LCD screen from a top person within Apple, but I really doubt that I'll get it. In the meantime, I didn't place an order elsewhere for this product so I probably won't see one until very late in it's life span. But at least I know what to expect from prior dealings so I'm not mad like you are.

As a loyal customer, you deserve the best treatment possible from Apple and Cyberian Outpost. But Apple would probably say that they can help you best if they are profitable by selling lots of iBooks to first time buyers.

All terms: Customer
Comment from E-mail

I am a minor partner in a small business and i see alot of people being stepped on, and hurt in the business world and corporate America all day long in one way or another. I want to tell you that it truly touched & inspired me to see a person with a good heart such as yourself in a high powerful position exercise compassion for even the little people. I know you are genuine & a real person, and that you put people first. This is the future of the business world as we slowly grow up as a whole and this is what motivates me and i want to thank you.

Woz

I could never understand or admire that 'political' aspect of business. I wish that business ran by a predicable formula for what works and what doesn't and not by personal whims of those in power. It's funny, but at first the personal computers were intended to give us individuals power to rise above the powerful people and corporations. But now, even the internet is being used to spoon feed us ads and track our lives without our knowing it in order to help these powerful institutions.

All terms: business
Comment from E-mail

Steve. I am a huge fan of yours. I think you are the most important person in computers. although the movie (pirates) is probably mostly full of you know what, it painted you in a great light, for you are the one who created the computer in the first place. I think the brain behind the sky is more important than the rain. I hope that you have inner fufillment always, i bet you do. I must admit, I do own windows, but that's only beause, as you know, it's cheaper, and I only use my puter for writing. I just wanted to say the US fest. in, I believe it was 83, was the best time I ever had in my life, and I want to thank you for that and for making the computer as well. I hope that you are doing well, and good luck to you. your brain is better than anything. james

Woz

Hey, I'm glad that you are glad for computers and I'm honored if I'm one of your symbols for having that, especially when you refer to such things as brains. It seems that I was the master engineer and programmer of the start of this revolution, not a businessman or salesman.

I'm especially glad for what you say about the US Festival. I hear that very often, yet you rarely hear of the US Festival in historic terms.

Comment from E-mail

Hi Steve! I live in Sweden and I work at Ericsson company (do you recognize the Ericsson mobile phone?). I have read about you in articles and in the superb book "Hacker: Heroes Of The Computer Revolution" by Steven Levy. I have seen you in TV documentary too. I believe that you are an alive legend and thanks to people like you the computer revolution took place. A part the work I like to do own hardware design. Very simple design to control robots. I am fascinating about building robots. The most important thing when I start a own project is to have fun that's all. I never heard about the movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley". Was it shown on the TV? Can I find it on video? Do you have any suggestion on how I can find it?

Woz

It's an honor to get good email from someone in Sweeden. I'm very glad that you read and enjoyed "Hackers." It had a lot of true and meaningful stuff that disappeared as Wall Street took over the image of the personal computing revolution.

Send me your address and I'll get you a DVD or VHS tape of "Pirates of Silicon Valley." Unfortunately the VHS tapes are NTSC only and the DVD is U.S region code. I have friends that can make the conversion if you need, but it may take a while.

Comment from E-mail

I have some questions for you. If you could answer them that would be great.

1. When you think about your time at Apple, what did you enjoy the best? What made you want to come to work each day?

2. What unique skills did the management team have that helped make Apple a success?

3. When you were a kid my age were there any classes or hobbies that you liked that let you know that you would be good in technology?

4. I understand you work with students. What skills, hobbies, or classes do you tell them to focus on, to prepare for the future?

5. Do you know any good technology camps for me?

Woz

1. I was motivated by several things. I was very independent. I could look at a problem and come up with my solution from any of a number of angles. I could work on a problem in the order and with the method that I chose. I was my own boss. I knew that what I did was good and that it impressed people. I had goals that guaranteed that I'd only do an A+ job that was better than anyone else would do. I got lots of praise for what I did. Also, I was free enough to include plenty of fun and humor and pranks in the worktime. For example, in writing Pong in BASIC, I put in a mode where the game would play itself, but jiggle the paddle enough that a player didn't know it. I actually got a friend to play, and win, an entire game and he thought that he did it himself.

2. We had a very unusual situation. Steve Jobs and myself had no such experience. I was very good at what I did and could take a project near to completion on my own because I was the designer, constructor, tester, coder, modifier, and more. Steve Jobs never let up in the pursuit for excellence, to have the best company ever. Mike Markkula had a lot of prior business success and he ran marketing in a professional way, while lots of other startups were very unprofessional. Mike Scott was our president. He could be rough when it came to getting the needed things done, like Steve Jobs is, but he could also joke a lot. I really liked Mike Scott a lot. Rod Holt was an older engineer with engineering management thinking and expertise outside of my fields. Without him we wouldn't have had many totally completed projects that a company could actually build.

3. By the time I was in 5th grade I was well on my way to an electronics future. I didn't know that electronics would lead to computers even. My 5th grade science fair project had 92 switches and lights to display the electron orbits for every atom. While this wasn't a computer, it did involve the sort of reasoning and complexity of computer logic. The electron orbits don't go in order. At some point, a switch has to swap one group for another. Some diode logic circuits were required. Also, in 5th grade I read a story where a ham radio operator was a hero and the book said that anyone of any age could get a ham radio license. This is different than driving licenses. I went to school that morning. On "Safety Patrol" (holding stop signs while students crossed the street) I told a friend that I was going to get my ham license and he surprised me by telling me of a class for such on my own block. I did get my license by 6th grade. It involved learning a lot of electronics and circuits and I even built my own transmitter and receiver.

I really advanced in computer logic circuits in 6th and 8th grades, and got the real concept of what a full computer was by 9th grade. We didn't have computers in our schools back in the 60's.

4. Teaching is getting harder and harder for me, with my tremendous email load. I prefer answering everyone individually (although one of my lists has hundreds of unanswered ones that came in after the "Pirates" movie) rather than have staff do it, or to publish it all. But I'm still human and can only do so much.

The primary focus of my classes for 5th through 8th graders is to show them ways to make their homework look exceptional, to impress teachers. The positive reactions of the teachers will lead to students thinking better of themselves and actually doing better work. At least that's the theory that I subscribe to. Also, just doing interesting, different, things helps motivate students and give them a good reason to spend more time on schoolwork than they might otherwise have spent.

I also focused on how networks work, including the types of data packets on the network and where they go and how they are handled. This helps the students debug network problems. This part of the class involves setting up servers with privileges as well as just accessing servers. It always included AOL accounts for my entire class, and I put heavy pressure on the parents to buy extra phone lines for the kids' computers. My real goal was to get the kids their own phones at an early age so that they could be independent but don't tell the parents I said that.

Nowdays, the online part of my class includes the internet.

The main time consuming part of my class was on how computers work, and on how to keep them maintained. I almost always had students take apart PowerBooks to exchange RAM and hard disks and modems. They had to have a good understanding of how the Operating System worked so that they could [sometimes] understand computer messages and take the right action. This part of the class is about having the skills to own and take care of your own computer.

My advanced students went into music recording, video editing, 3D graphics design and lots more..

5. Sorry, but I don't at this time. They change a bit, but I've seen or heard of them in recent times so you might do an internet search.

Comment from E-mail

I was watching the movie [Pirates of SIlicon Valley] yesterday (I'm in Canada so we rented at the video store) and got the impression that if you took more charge instead of Jobs, Apple would be in a much better position today. You looked like you were opposed to the infighting, and it looked like you thought Jobs was a little nuts at times. Do you agree?

Woz

I think that it's fair to say that we'd have run things quite differently. I'm more into patience and talking and not fighting or having conflicts. I don't like to step on other's toes or call them idiots. I prefer to work with them to get better results.

But I think that would have been disastrous for Apple. A better partnership between the two of us might have helped more.