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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
Hi Steve,
I know you probably receive hundreds of email stating "I'm your biggest fan", etc, however I would like to take this time to formally thank you for originally designing the best system in existance (yes, the Apple I/II). I'm a 23 year old Unix System Administrator currently serving out a 2 year work contract in beautiful Bermuda. I literally grew up (since age 2) with the Apple ][, then migrating to a Classic, Performa, Powermac, and now an iBook.


Woz:

Thanks for the generous remarks. I think that a lot of people look back on the Apple ][ days because things were so much fun and life-altering then if you had a computer, independent of how great it really was or wasn't. For a brief window in history we were masters of this part of our life instead of slaves to it.

Comment from E-mail:
I have a question to ask you. Do you ever feel like technology is getting the least bit out of hand? I encounter people on a daily basis which scream "I can't get my email", and make it seem like the end of the world. Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days of text BBS'ing where Fidonet mail would suffice for electronic mail. Now it seems that everyone is strapped down to cell phones, pagers, pdas, and technology simply must be present in order for them to humanly survive. And as you can imagine working at an ISP, this is a constant encounter :-) Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the latest-of-latest electronic gadgets, however I don't need/want technology strapped all over my body.

Woz: I think that the best solution, these days, to most computer problems is strict adherence to standards like those of email and HTML. Remember how great and trouble-free HTML was at first? Before Mosaic it was intended as Text only, with a preference to using Logical tags instead of Physical ones. In a text based world it's hard to violate the standard, although other languages can mess that one up too.

As to all the other technology changes in our life, communication has never changed so much or so rapidly in all of history. Humans are changing, in how they live and communicate, more than ever before. I don't like my life being taken over by so much of this technology. Instead of a leader, any normal person can only be behind on most technical things, even knowing about them and their capabilities. I try, in my own life, to find a few gems that simplify my life in the best way. I use an analog cell phone, even though I am constantly playing with digital ones. To me, the reliability of a phone is more important than all the techie and PDA toys. I even forward my phone to land-line phones at each stop for reliability. So when people dial one number (it's never changed in a decade) they get me reliably, no matter where I am. This is worth more than email and messaging on my phone.

I was trying to find a way to design a simple web browsing machine, using your phone line and TV. I wasn't convinced that I'd found the right engineers so I didn't go ahead. Shortly thereafter WebTV came along and did a good job at the simplification I was after. So I got that for my mom, rather than have her first web experience be with a computer that might turn her off to it for the rest of her life.

I know that many people speak as we do of simplifying. Someday, perhaps after Moore's Law has expired and hardware isn't rapidly improving, there should be time for devices (and things like customer support) to be revived and made humanistic. I'd call this a renaissance.

Comment from E-mail:
I often load up my Apple ][ emulator and simply reminicse over the good ol' days. I truely believe the Apple ][ stood for something more than a foundation for the Mac, but rather a symbol of symplicity in general. You didn't have the clutter of a huge OS, hardware requirements, system crashes, and best of all, we had long filename support back then! ;-)

Woz:

I actually look at the Macintosh as an attempt to make things simpler for users. I do wish that things wouldn't have become as bad as they are. Looking back, I wish that the Macintosh had come a year or 2 later but with kernel level routines handling varied things in less complex ways from the start. Add-ons are always bad, even the Macintosh's multi-tasking.

Comment from E-mail:
Being in support field for several years now, I often wonder if people truely remember where the original roots of the Mac stemmed from? Worst of all, will the kids growing up today understand how computers evolved? I truely hope there will be a "Computer History" course rolled into high-school ciriculum one day. I plan to pursue a more education-oriented carrer (trainer/teacher), and would be delighted to some day teach a course along these lines. I strongly believe the history of computers should be preserved and passed on to the newer generation.

Woz:

I doubt that people today see that the revenues of the Apple ][ were so high that a company the size of Apple today was guaranteed. It would actually have a higher market evaluation if the Apple ][ profits had been put into grape orchards instead of the company. Sure, the Apple ][ isn't around or adequate for today, so it's impact is forgotten and will be more and more so.

Comment from E-mail:
I look forward to your reply, and realize you must have many other emails to send off. If you would ever like to come to Bermuda for vacation, let me know. I'd be more than happy to show you the island. We can even trade war stories over a cup of coffee ;-)

Woz:

I'll copy my wife on this! It sounds good to me and I've never been there.

Comment from E-mail:
What's the deal with your e-mail problem?

Woz:

After the "Pirates of Silicon Valley" TV movie, I was deluged with thousands of emails. Most were wishing me well and I tried to read all of them and answer most. I got about 1,000 emails behind at one point but eventually got to them up to a year late.

I don't have a corporation with staff to answer my email. I don't believe in being indirect. But I've lost a lot of my life in the last year due to 8-20 hours of email a day. I have to ask a favor of all of you, that may allow me to keep up with email needs. If possible, please make it clear in your email that you don't need an answer. That gives me the best chance of at least reading all of them.

A & E included me in a category of "Billionaires" which is totally backwards and wrong. They call me a college dropout in their guide info, despite the fact that I explained to them why that was not accurate. Read "My Take" if you want to know the real story.

Thanks very much....Woz



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