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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
When/How did you figure out that the hardware end of computers was
the path for you? I'm interested in so many things, computers being the
strongest pull. I've still not decided if I would like to specialize in
hardware or software.

Woz:
I never did figure out that the hardware end of computers was my path. In fact it was not. I designed a lot of hardware but really made it inexpensive by making very good tradeoffs between doing some things with software and others with hardware. In case after case after case I used software to get by with extremely minimal hardware. This was the case with the floppy disk, cassette tape interface, printer interface, serial interface, modem interface, paddle interface, video memory mapping and much more. I wrote all the code and drivers and routines (like graphics) myself. I also wrote the BASIC interpreter that was shipped in ROM. I did not have any help with the complete software and hardware design of the Apple ][. I probably spent more time on the software than on the hardware.

My prior experience had been stronger in hardware, but I had excelled at programming courses and practiced writing code even when I couldn't have a computer to run it on. I had dreamed of such things as writing a computer language, and had tried to work out how to do it in my spare time back in college days. I had never designed, before, the hardware or software for almost everything I ever did at Apple. I'd never designed a microprocessor circuit before the Apple I. I'd only designed video character output for a couple of arcade games. I'd never written a programming language. I'd never designed a floppy controller. I'd never designed around dynamic RAMs or microprocessor I/O chips. I just figured out everything on the fly.

Comment from E-mail:
I am in the Individual Studies curriculum at a local community
college. Right now I'm taking programming courses in the Liberal Math
and Science department ( no CS department at my school).


A strange thing I have noticed since beggining my first programming
course (C++). My writing has improved dramatically. I'm also thinking
much more clearly.

Woz:
I'll remember to tell that to school administrators when I try to convince them that programming should be required from 8th grade on.

Comment from E-mail:
TI'd just like to know how you figured out what to specialize in. I'm
guessing that there was no 'epiphany' that told you exactly what you
wanted to do in life.

Woz:
I had it easy. I knew electronics well enough to always find a quick job. I didn't think I'd design computers. I figured it would be more like radios.

Comment from E-mail:
Any thoughts you can give from your experiences would be greatly
appreciated.

Woz:
Always try to think of one small improvement once you are done with anything. The special job that someone else would not have done is what will put you above.

Comment from E-mail:
Hi Woz. First, thanks for inventing the PC industry. The Apple II made my childhood years more fun than anything else I could imagine and I continue to use Apple computers for graphic design to this very day. Anyway, here goes...remember a few years back when Bill Gates got smacked in the face with a cream pie? I would like to what your reaction was. I'm aware that you are fond of jokes and humor -- so was the pie-in-the-face a well-deserved harmless prank, or was it inappropriate and childish?
Woz:
I actually sent Bill an email with a picture of myself smiling as I got 'pied' after my college graduation. It was for fun, to make a photo captioned "Apple Pie-in-ear" (pioneer) and I appreciated the humor. I told Bill that it would be good if he lightened up about it and laughed and even arranged for a pie thrower if he ever had a stale stage appearance. But I never heard back.

Comment from E-mail:
Thanks, thanks and thanks again. You represent the future, the hope and the politness of the age of the computer. You (and only you) are the one who thought a couple of years ago that computers were supposed to be a sort of art concept, a new and powerful way to live better and for the better. You are the only one (with Jobs) who know that human are the future and that computers are just one of their servants. You put life, creativity and art in this boring world, in this html-coded and sylicon dimension named future. Thank you.
Woz:
I'm very gratified to hear from someone who feels as you do. Your values are clearly right, even if you are wrong a little in your attributions.

I just wish that we didn't see today's computer business. It clouds the great things that we once brought to humanity.


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