Home
Home
Education
WozScape
All the Macintosh links you need!
Woz answers your letters
Conventions, past and present.
Friends of Woz
Some businesses
Unuson
Festivals and Fun
See Woz, if he's home.
 
Letters-General Questions Answered  

 



Q From e-mail:
Greetings Mr. Woz, I have to say like the others, I am impressed at your ingenuity, kindness, compassion and general overall outlook on life. It is amazing and an honor that I can simply open a program and write you a letter to you in this day in age. You started this wonderful trend of the information age, and I'm sure you know we all thank you. To this day computers, and the Internet never cease to amaze me. Would a letter I handwritten to you 10 years ago ever get to you? Probably not?

WOZ:
Every letter like that would have gotten to me and very likely gotten a personal reply. Some days I can't get to all the mail however. Back in Apple days I didn't believe in a secretary and my own phone rang and I answered all my own mail.

Q From e-mail:
How do you feel about the Open Source "revolution"? Do you think that projects like Linux, Apache, Gnome and KDE are rekindling the same kind of spirit as the Homebrew Computing Club? Also, do you see this as being the source of great new innovation, or do you think that new technology are destined to come ala committee's of uber corporations?

WOZ:
Open source attracts open minds. That's good.

Q From e-mail:
Do you think Jobs will ever "Get it"? Let me explain what I mean. The PC was a bad computer. It was slow and had a poor OS. What I feel made the PC take off was the fact that the systems were open. Within a year of the release of the first IBM you had several other companies making the same products. When IBM went to the PS/2 (Micro BUS) to cut out competers, the PS/2 failed, so IBM learned and went back to the ISA/EISA/PCI bus and now IBM is doing better. Apple allowed Clones 3 years ago and did badly (I think because the quality went down on the MAC for a while then it came back). My point is do you think Apple will ever open it's system again? I feel they should have opened the first MACs back in 84. If they had, Apple might own part of MS, not the other way around. I would like any of your comment or personal observation.

WOZ:
We did so well in the days when we had extremely open products. But Steve Jobs has always tried to make them tighter and more closed. He says that it's beneficial to the user not to have all the many permutations of configurations.

We basically only had one disagreement over the Apple ][ design. He tried to get me to go with 2 slots instead of 8. I stood for 8 and told him he could find another computer. Call it artistic license. It paid off in the long run. But from that day on, he always tries to have less flexablitiy and variation possible in our computers than PC's have. He tries to define a machine for one purpose and precisely configured for it. But people always want other things too.

You find a ton of people like I was once, engineers and technicians, who can buy PC subassemblies and chips and can make breadboards and you don't even have magazines telling how to do this on Macs. I have no further comment.

Q 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.

Q 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.

Q 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.

Q 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.

Q 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.

Q 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.

Q 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,


Back

to General Letters Contents Page

Home | WozCam | Education | WozScape | Unuson | MacLinks | Friends | Business | Conventions | Festivals

©Unuson Corp. 2002 | Los Gatos, California | v3.0 | Last Updated:January 15, 2000  
Design by Al Luckow

Made With macintosh