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Letters-General Questions Answered  



Q From e-mail (by way of Jim Valentine):
Jim, My name is Brian R. I spoke with you last night around 6pm and you asked me to send you this note. Several years ago, Steve visited Fort Lauderdale at my request for what was the local Apple user's group. Steve actually made 2 visits down including bringing 2 of the key developers for the Mac, Andy and another gentleman. On both occasions, Steve came over to my house where I showed him what I was doing at the time with a bulletin board system. After Steve's last visit, about 2 or 3 days later a 5MB hard drive showed up on my doorstep with a "Good luck" note attached.

The success I have experienced since then has everything to do with the Woz spending the time with me that he did in Fort Lauderdale and even on a trip I made with my family out to California shortly after his South Florida visit. As I told you on the phone last night, I am in town with my wife and 21-month old son and would like to stop by to say hello if at all possible. We are leaving Saturday morning to start driving back to Florida. I will call your office around 9-10am on Friday morning. Sincerely, Brian

WOZ: Brian, this is Steve. I hope that I can get to see you, but if not, best wishes anyway. I do remember your name when I see this and I remember the two Fort Lauderdale visits as great ones. The parts that I recall might differ from your own. I remember your BBS and was very impressed. The second trip was the week that the Macintosh was introduced and I brought Andy, Burrell, and Bill Atkinson along as a special gift to your club and the one in Washington D.C. (if I remember correctly) where the projector almost didn't arrive in time. I remember crying on the plane coming into Fort Lauderdale but I won't say why here.

I get to hear back very often from people that I apparently made a positive difference in their lives, with special gifts or sponsorship. Many of them turn out very successful and I hope that they've been influenced positively. I've mostly forgotten these incidents. There are many many of them. Plus, they are part of my 'way' and not individually special. I am so glad that you remember this good thing.

Q From e-mail:
I guess I am writing this, well in hopes of being able to make a friend. I would really like to be able to ask questions to the "woz" as a student, and I am so eager to learn but no one seems to be able to teach me thing I allways wanted to know, even J&W won't help they are a Compact Service Repairt Center...YUCK!!!!! . He is someone who I model my life after, I would like to learn from someone who I allways considered my hero. There were 3 thing I allways wanted to do when I was younger be a pilot(Private Pilot 233197440), go to a Billy Joel Concert (Billy Joel, Elton John), and work for Apple(Hay you never know?) I to would like to make my mark on society, but it is really increadable to think that a few people who just thought a little differently that everyone else changed so much.

WOZ: Nice to get your good letter. I hope that you far exceed all of your heroes. You can call me a friend, but I won't be able to spend a lot of time and probably won't have much to teach you. I assure you that I rarely have a free moment and that too many people are looking for my time.

Your goals and achievements certainly impress me. I hope that no matter how many things you accomplish and no matter how successful you are, that you always enjoy a little popular music. Singers inspire what we want to be in life and how we want to live our lives as much as any heroes.

Q From e-mail:
As the person who brought computers into the homes of common folks everywhere, what are your thoughts on the web and all its attendent joys and problems?

I think that the web is more user friendly than software is. I hate SPAM. I don't think that companies take responsibility for their software or hardware. Customer support matches voice mail menu systems for helpfulness these days. Someday that should all change to favor the customers first.

Q From e-mail:
Would you ever consider doing another US Festival type event? I was too young/poor to attend them but they looked like a lot of fun.

I wish I could. I always look back favorably at the US Festivals. They were the best ever. You'll hear that often from people that attended

Q From e-mail:
How do you feel about the Mac vs. Windows war that some computer users engage in?

I'm surprised at the extent of the bigotry. But it really plays out when companies or schools take a side and prohibit the other platform at all. We Mac users should be good even when the other side is bad. We should do what we can to accept the other platforms. All the best people in life seem to like LINUX.

Q From e-mail:
I do have a question for you...Do you remember a Brit by the name of Sir Clive Sinclair. If so, what is your take on Sinclair computers. I always thought of "Uncle Clive" as a British version of you. Unfortunately, he didn't have a Steve Jobs to brilliantly market his products. (Just to spur memories, the ZX80 (a Z80A microprocessor-based, membrane-keyboard, 1K RAM computer, black, about 5" by 5" by 1") and the QL (released about 6 mos. after the Mac (had a Motorola 68008 processor, 128K RAM and to microcassette drives built in). As I remember it, it was the first computer to significantly improve upon your BASIC, only 10 years later...

Sinclaire kept coming out with very inexpensive, great, products. Many of them I bought. I think that he did have some marketing, if not the longest life products. I even bought a ZX80, and later the Timex version.

My own BASIC was the hardest task of developing the Apple I and ][ computers. I'd never studied compiler/interpreter writing and had only practiced my ideas on paper before. I'd read some good books on the subject. I'd never programmed in BASIC before the Apple I. I just sniffed the air and decided that the games that would drive personal computers were written in BASIC. I picked up a manual at Hewlett Packard and used their variant of BASIC as my model. Either they had good substring syntax or I evolved my own based on theirs, but I much preferred it to the DEC style that Microsoft went with, using LEFT$ and MID$ and RIGHT$ functions. I laid out my syntax charts and made a decision to take floating point out so that I could finish slightly sooner and have the first BASIC for the 6502 processor ever. I mainly wanted it to be able to play games. Then I knew it was good enough for whatever else. I also wanted to program solutions to my Hewlett Packard engineering problems. That's where I worked as an engineer designing calculators.

I could go on. The BASIC turned out extremely modular, so I could easily add something by adding some syntax descriptions in near-text form, and write routines for the new functions or ops that were needed. The language didn't have to be rewritten.

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