Steve Jobs

How is your relationship with Steve Jobs?

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Question from E-mail

How is your relationship with Steve Jobs? Are you folks still friends? I remember back in 1992 when I saw my first NeXT Station and NeXT Cube made by the NeXT Computer company whom Steve Jobs started after his departure from Apple. I was in college then and NeXT sent a rep to our annual computer fair at the Unviersity of Florida campus. I immediately fell in love with the sleek lines on this new machine but of course I could never afford it. Since that time I have admired Steve Jobs both for the incredible NeXT Station and the NeXTSTEP OS. However, his personality as depicted in the movie was very disturbing. Was he looking for ways to motivate his employees or was it just a power trip he was on? You may abstain from answering this question if you feel it is to sticky an issue.

Woz

I admired taking bold steps like not having a floppy or hard disk, but it's only worthwhile when it works out. The first NeXT Cube had too many problems.

The depiction of Steve's personality in the movie is quite accurate and I suppose that Steve is happy with it. Although Steve almost always acted and spoke as though he was more right than anyone else, he only sometimes engaged in the activities portrayed, such as berating employees. I've heard from enough employees to know about these outbursts although I fortunately never witnessed one. Steve would probably tell you that these were artists who had to be treated that way to get the great art out of them, that anything just adequate wasn't what they were capable of. Also, others that aren't performing like great artists aren't worth keeping in Steve's eye. It's a very debatable issue, but I won't debate it with Steve. We're different here.

Does Steve Jobs know how to code?

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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.

How involved with the Mac you are today?

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Question from E-mail

I was wondering how involved with the Mac you are today? Are you still an apple employee in any way? Do you use only macs, and if so, what kind(s)? Do you ever talk to Steve Jobs? Have you felt "pushed back" into the spotlight since the movie?

Woz

I'm not formally involved with the Macintosh today, but I represent it informally and unofficially on occasion. I keep up with a lot of Macintosh equipment, first hand, and generally know more about what works and what doesn't and what's available and what's not than people inside of Apple

I talk to Steve Jobs on occassion but not too often.

I do feel 'pushed back' into the spotlight right now. Way too much email. I have to handle and turn down lots of reporters. I like a low profile better, it gives me more time to do what I really want to (which might be as simple as taking a child to school).

Relationship with Steve Jobs

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Comment from E-mail

Can you discuss the nature of your relationship with Steve Jobs at this time? [pre 2000]

Woz

I actually like him and what he says. I couldn't treat people the way he does but I've never witnessed it either. He's quite intelligent and makes sense, although he doesn't always listen fully. For example, I might be trying to help and he might hear it more as a worthless complaint. I do not oppose Steve in any way. I'm even amazed if he really pulls off Apple's next decade successfully. I could never manage projects well, as Steve does, now that they are so complex with so many people involved.

Some thoughts about Steve Jobs

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Question from Mark B.

I was just browsing through your website and I just thought I'd offer my two cents and ask you a question regarding Pirates of Silicon Valley.

The main character in the movie seems to be Steve Jobs, described by the director in an interview as a complex Shakespearean character. While this maybe true, I found your character equally compelling, and ironically, an opposite in many respects to Steve Jobs in desires and ambitions. After reading your comments and seeing the movie, I came away with a greater sense of the history at Apple, and your your significant role, to create revolutionary rather than evolutionary products. It was interesting for me to see that, although computers can perform many of the same functions, Apple's early focus on creativity (both at Apple and in there users) remains as compelling today as it was back then. Kudos to you for defining the essence of Apple early on.

I guess, if I could ask one question: Why was Steve Jobs so cruel, especially with regards to his own child? The director eluded to his adoption and the search for his mother but no evidence for a link was ever given. Is this one of those things that only Steve Jobs knows the answer to? Did you ever get any insight to the source of this behavior? I have to believe this is beyond the simple desire to have people perform at 110% for 90 hrs/wk.

Thanks again for creating and defining a tool millions of people can use to learn, express, and communicate ideas.

Sincerely, Mark B.

Woz

First, you are accurately observant. I look back at the importance of making computers quite unlike any that had ever been done and can see how great that was. The Apple I was the first low cost computer to come with an alphanumeric keyboard standard. I just couldn't see the waste and effort to build some general techie product that needed a lot more junk to start typing. And until you type, nothing is worth much. I'd been through the other computer paradigm my whole life before. Also, our calculators at HP had meaningful (to humans) keyboards when turned on. I also made the Apple I display on the cheapest device possible, your own home TV. I also wrote the BASIC for it. I only left out floating point after thinking hard in order to have the first BASIC for a 6502 and maybe get a little fame in my club. The Apple ][ was the first to have BASIC in ROM, the first to have DRAMs, expandable hugely on the motherboard, the first to have so few chips, the first to be completely built, the first with a plastic case, the first with color graphics, the first with hi-res, the first with sound, the first with paddles for games, the first to include built-in casette interface, the first to have color and game commands in the BASIC, etc. It was the third ever to look like a typewriter (the Apple I was the first). I'm especially that I helped the concept of computers are for games develop so early.

Steve and I are very different. Mainly, I want to be an engineer and make neat things for my own fun, forever. I told Steve and Mike Markkula that I wouldn't expand Apple into a real company because I had to quit HP (I'd designed all the Apple stuff moonlighting for a year!). I loved HP. But I finally realized that I could do it and not have to run it. From the start, Steve wanted to run a company and learn the ways to. Otherwise, what was his contribution? He didn't design any of it.

Steve's management style has left a lot of bad impressions. I never saw it personally and it was different than I would have expected from knowing him. I don't think that he was ever cruel to his daughter, at least as far as the movie. He may have indirectly been cruel to the mother. Well, here's my take on that. All the people that lived in the Cupertino house with the two of them agreed that it was Steve's child for sure. I'm assuming he didn't like her idea to have the baby. But he wasn't in control. I think that's why he said "I don't know" about why he was being this way. He couldn't pinpoint the fact that he was being told by someone else what was going to happen. Does this make sense. It's my theory. Taking that into account, it's understandable. He had strong feelings to fight this baby thing and it came out the way it came out, maybe not exactly intentionally.

I don't get a lot of insight into Steve's behavior. A lot of it, or what infuences it, is more secret than in people like myself. But he always seems to be thinking well and just wanting to do things that make sense most of the time. Sometimes Steve doesn't listen fully but he tries to.

You've remained the same person that you were...

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Question from E-mail

Hi Mr. Woz, 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. : - )

Woz

It's funny, but even with all the things that aren't said outright, a great number of people, like yourself, saw a lot of things in that movie that are totally true. The personalities were very accurately portrayed.

I designed the computers just to do it and show the world that it could be done and help them happen. Later Steve Jobs suggested starting a company to make money from it. I'd been giving out schematics for free at the Homebrew Computer Club. That's what I believed in. It was hard for me to even start the company when it looked like there might be real money in it.

I often wonder why I remained the person I always wanted to be, from late high school on. I wanted to be an engineer and then a 5th grade teacher and I wanted a computer someday and I wanted to be nice to people and I wanted to tell and make jokes and I wanted a family and home. It couldn't have come truer for me.

40K for the Apple I

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Comment from E-mail

I just saw where the first Apple I (they claim) is going on the auction block and is projected to demand in excess of $40K. Wow, pretty cool, huh? Your thoughts on that?

Woz

I wanted to give the first Apple I, on a PC board, to Liza LO*OP of the LO*OP Center in Cotati, California. I took Steve [Jobs] up there and she showed us how she rolled a PDP-11 around to elementary schools and told the students how a computer was just a collection of programs written by people and didn't have a mind of it's own. 4th through 6th graders. I admired this and wanted to give her the first one. Jobs actually made me buy it, if you can believe that, for $300. I did and gave it to Liza. The one being advertised must be number 2.

Did Steve Get Along with...

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Question from E-mail

In the Pirates of Silicon Valley it appeared that Mike and Steve didnt get along too well.... What was their relationship in real life like??? Same question for Steve and John Sculley.

Woz

Mike and Steve got along very well, up until Steve was demoted and the board, including Mike, supported John Sculley. They conversed well and shared similar and constructive thoughts about ways to change the world and to do important things. Mike was the portrayed in the movie in a very inaccurate and unfair way, making it look like he was financially shrewd. Actually, he was intellectually open and contributing and, more than anyone else, he ran and structured the company in the early days, while Steve floated around getting his feet wet at running a company and learning to be a top executive. John Sculley was like Mike in the sense that Steve saw him open to great thoughts, although not as astute in our business. But John was largely Steve's shadow in areas of where we should go with products. Eventually, John was more concerned with the total company operation and keeping things going while Steve wanted to keep advancing on the future, company and profits or not, in his own internally conceived directions. Actually, John Sculley promoted technologies like AppleTalk and PowerTalk and QuickTime and PlainTalk and the Newton. He was very supportive of the rare technical geniuses in the company. He was not just a "marketeer" who dressed things up in colors. Any downfalls in the company that weren't coincidence were probably due more to his marketing mishaps (like not licensing the Macintosh technology in early days) than to hardware ones. This is only my opinion and is based largely on only a few indirect contacts.