Question from E-mail

I'm a comp sci major (unfortunately not engineering) and a child development minor, so I am a really big fan of everything that you've been doing and am interested in doing similar things some day. I have a few questions that I would love to hear your responses to: - Does Steve Jobs know how to code? Is he an engineer (i.e. did he know what the heck you were doing when you were building the Apple?)

Woz

Steve didn't ever code. He wasn't an engineer and he didn't do any original design, but he was technical enough to alter and change and add to other designs. I did all of the Apple I and Apple ][ myself, including the feature choices. I did all of the BASIC myself (it's in handwriting as I couldn't afford an assembler). The only person who helped write some of the Apple ][ code was Allen Baum, who helped with the 'monitor' program.

All terms: Apple I, Apple ][, Steve Jobs
Question from E-mail

My questions are these: (1) why did Jobs leave Apple? (2) will Apple be able to go after the home computer market with the iMac and regain its dominance as the personal computer maker it should be? (3) would you ever go back to Apple?

Woz

Quite a few people in the company saw Steve's management style as bad for Apple and not in line with how they ran companies. Steve tried to wrench the company on a different path, and schemed to try and have our CEO, John Sculley, removed. John caught wind of it and things wound up with Steve having the freedom to start a project of his own but not to manage the Macintosh or other Apple products at that time. It was like a strong demotion. Steve took it very hard and personal. Instead of trying to do something positive within Apple, he left to try and outdo Apple on his own. It left a feeling among most Apple people of disloyalty to Apple.

My own feeling is that Steve thought he was so great that he would succeed larger than Apple outside of Apple. Also, that he didn't like finding that he was not on top at Apple. He would say that he seemed meant for this great role in life and that it was impossible to do within Apple any longer and that's why he left. There are a lot of credible explanations, but the truth is hard to know for sure.

The iMac has some impressive sales figures, but it hasn't brought Apple out of a dangerously low market share. Something more revolutionary will be needed for that.

I can't see myself going back to Apple. I don't like stress and conflicts and I have a great life even though I'm constantly busy.

All terms: Apple, iMac, Jobs, Pc
Comment from E-mail

Dear Woz, Hello. It's a wonderful thing that you allow yourself to be so accesable. I found your site as well as your comments to exhibit a great sense of humor. I should know, since I work in a comedy club! Let me cut to the chase... My grandfather was Sam Lang. He and Robert Howard (of Howtek) founded the Centronics Data Corp. in 1968, and together they invented the dot-matrix printer, and parallel port. Why am I boring you with this? Here's why: When my grandfather died, he left me a schematic diagram and 10 page description for a device he called the "digital cache". It appears to be a tape drive like an Iomega Ditto drive, but according to his documents, with a 3 million Gigabyte capacity. It's intended purpose was for video archiving. I don't believe an item with that high a capacity in a small size has yet been invented, so it's possible that this may be something. Unfortunately, I know very little about this stuff, so I can't tell if it's a great thing, a 10 year old thing, or a fantasy. And I'm afraid to show anyone else, because if it's a real thing, who could I trust. Only you perhaps, which is why I am writing. Please respond and let me know how I can fax or mail you these documents. Thanks for your time.

Woz

It sounds like a good idea. The need for video archiving is fast approaching. I recently cut back my own HD size and I had to toss a lot of videos that I always liked to play to entertain others and myself. One day I was wondering where all the camera and data and video media types wind up. A friend replied, instantly, "RAM." He indicated that we might someday have a RAM card the size of a stamp or something with enough capacity to hold hundreds of videos. Then what does it all mean? Where does life head when this is possible? I wish I could be here when it's reached, but it's a long way off.

Comment from E-mail

I think that your jestures with the Apple stocks and now helping children is very admirable. In my humble opinion, if this were a perfect world, then you would have been the one to walk off with the "crown jewel." Not that you haven't done so bad yourself, of course. But it is refreshing to read of someone with some morals these days who never let success go to his head.

Woz

Thanks for seeing this and feeling the way you do. I am an ideal hero and image for young people, because of how I treated people and the morals that I held on to, as well as being a great engineer and helping start this industry.

All terms: crown jewel
Comment from E-mail

I just read that the Breakout Atari project was a scam and that you didn't know it until you read about it in a book on a plane. It say's you were hurt by it (I would be too) deeply. It shows you are a forgiving person to let that slide then, and to seemingly harbor no bad will toward Jobs now.

Woz

That's my approach to all of life's conflicts and setbacks. I'm very forgiving and it would give me a worse feeling head if I kept sadness inside. Better to forgive and forget and remain friends. Good things can come out of that.

All terms: Atari
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.

All terms: Apple I, Apple ][, Mac
Comment from E-mail

In your mind, has Jobs grown any? And what is your true feelings towards Win9x? i just started using a Mac and OS 8.1. it seems clunky compared to Win9x.

Woz

I knew Steve Jobs from when he was very young. Of course he's grown a lot. But some of the personality traits can be traced back even to those times. I'd say he grew up and lives an adult life now. But that's not attractive to me. I decided when I was young and idealistic that I didn't want to grow up and get the adult evilness in me. I always wanted to have a fun life no matter what I did for work. I did not include drugs and partying in my fun, just humor and pranks and strange adventures and weird friends. I have done the best at staying young of all the people that I know, and I'm very happy.

All terms: Jobs, OS.8.1, Win9x
Comment from E-mail

Reading all the comments has been incredible! Your life, as well as yourself in general, is incredibly interesting. Hopefully your legacy will keep living on for decades to come. But, to keep this short: did you ever think the computer would really become this mainstream? Did you even want it to become this mainstream? Luckily, we had a lab full of Apple IIGS in grade school. My dad sprung to get a IIGS (with a RAM expansion card and 3.5" floppy, which I thought never should've been called a floppy) , so I was the only 2nd grader who knew how to work the machines when something wrong happened. Ah, good ol' open apple-control-restart. Amazingly enough, even when my dad wanted to get a real Macintosh at the time, he instead got a IIGS because I said "I want a color screen!" :) I've still got that IIGS right around the corner here in the house, too... And of course, HyperCard is still high up on my list of priorities...I still get register's from my first game made in HyperCard (fishing game) . Btw, I'm 15 now. Me being able to make a fishing game when I was 13 says a lot about how great a product was put out then. Did you happen to have any input on HC? Thanks a lot for your time! (this got way too long!)

Woz

Back in the earliest days we felt sure that computers belonged in every home and would one day be there, even if they were just 4K machines!

I'm glad to hear about your HyperCard game programming. Hypercard is an amazing system of a very complete environment covering many bases, and the most natural writing programming language ever, that obeys human rules before computer rules. I loved teaching how to write puzzles and games in the HyperTalk language. I'm glad for you if that's what you're doing.

Comment from E-mail

I hate to make the unfair comparison, but I like to fancy myself a man along the same lines. I write code and post it (it's not all that great, but it's getting better) in hopes that others will pick it up and run with it. I figure things out and write articles (served freely - without even banner ads) discussing what I did and what pitfalls need to be avoided. Etc. I'm employed to do a job, and I do it. But what I contribute to the world around me I don't get paid for, except maybe in karma.

It's late, and me thinks I've babbled. In any case, I would love to converse with you in greater detail, and with a higher level of coherence. (You've been something of an idol of mine since I was a prepubescent brat hacking away at AppleSoft BASIC and 6502 mini-assembler code into the wee hours on schoolnights.)

Woz

Good for you (sharing code). There's nothing better and the reward stays with you until you die. Please don't start conversing. I'm exhausted and in pain from 22 hours a day of email answering and I have hundreds stacked up still. Short comments I WILL READ, it only takes me a while if there are questions to answer.

Thanks, and best wishes.

All terms: 6502, AppleSoft, BASIC
Comment from E-mail

 

My five year old daughter came down the stairs the other morning dressed in long sleeves. I said, "Honey, are you sure you want to wear long sleeves today?". "Yes, Daddy", she replied, "I looked on the Internet, it's going to be cloudy and cool today".

Woz

 

The best jokes are the true ones...In my case it's my wife who has looked it up...

All terms: Weather