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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 


Comment From e-mail: I am a minor partner in a small business and i see alot of people being stepped on, and hurt in the business world and corporate America all day long in one way or another. I want to tell you that it truly touched & inspired me to see a person with a good heart such as yourself in a high powerful position exercise compassion for even the little people. I know you are genuine & a real person, and that you put people first. This is the future of the business world as we slowly grow up as a whole and this is what motivates me and i want to thank you.

Woz: I could never understand or admire that 'political' aspect of business. I wish that business ran by a predicable formula for what works and what doesn't and not by personal whims of those in power. It's funny, but at first the personal computers were intended to give us individuals power to rise above the powerful people and corporations. But now, even the internet is being used to spoon feed us ads and track our lives without our knowing it in order to help these powerful institutions.

Comment From e-mail: Steve. I am a huge fan of yours. I think you are the most important person in computers. although the movie (pirates) is probably mostly full of you know what, it painted you in a great light, for you are the one who created the computer in the first place. I think the brain behind the sky is more important than the rain. I hope that you have inner fufillment always, i bet you do. I must admit, I do own windows, but that's only beause, as you know, it's cheaper, and I only use my puter for writing. I just wanted to say the US fest. in, I believe it was 83, was the best time I ever had in my life, and I want to thank you for that and for making the computer as well. I hope that you are doing well, and good luck to you. your brain is better than anything. james

Woz: Hey, I'm glad that you are glad for computers and I'm honored if I'm one of your symbols for having that, especially when you refer to such things as brains. It seems that I was the master engineer and programmer of the start of this revolution, not a businessman or salesman.

I'm especially glad for what you say about the US Festival. I hear that very often, yet you rarely hear of the US Festival in historic terms.

Comment From e-mail: Hi Steve! A live in Sweden and I work at Ericsson company (do you recognize the Ericsson mobile phone?). I have red about you in articles and in the superb book "Hacker: Heroes Of The Computer Revolution" by Steven Levy. I have seen you in TV documentary too. I believe that you are an alive legend and thanks to people like you the computer revolution took place. A part the work I like to do own hardware design. Very simple design to control robots. I am fascinating about building robots. The most important thing when I start a own project is to have fun thatās all. I never heard about the movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley". Was it shown on the TV? Can I find it on video? Do you have any suggestion on how I can find it?

Woz: It's an honor to get good email from someone in Sweeden. I'm very glad that you read and enjoyed "Hackers." It had a lot of true and meaningful stuff that disappeared as Wall Street took over the image of the personal computing revolution.

Send me your address and I'll get you a DVD or VHS tape of "Pirates of Silicon Valley." Unfortunately the VHS tapes are NTSC only and the DVD is U.S region code. I have friends that can make the conversion if you need, but it may take a while.

Comment From e-mail: I have some questions for you. If you could answer them that would be great.

1. When you think about your time at Apple, what did you enjoy the best? What made you want to come to work each day?

Woz: I was motivated by several things. I was very independent. I could look at a problem and come up with my solution from any of a number of angles. I could work on a problem in the order and with the method that I chose. I was my own boss. I knew that what I did was good and that it impressed people. I had goals that guaranteed that I'd only do an A+ job that was better than anyone else would do. I got lots of praise for what I did. Also, I was free enough to include plenty of fun and humor and pranks in the worktime. For example, in writing Pong in BASIC, I put in a mode where the game would play itself, but jiggle the paddle enough that a player didn't know it. I actually got a friend to play, and win, an entire game and he thought that he did it himself...Woz

2. What unique skills did the management team have that helped make Apple a success?

We had a very unusual situation. Steve Jobs and myself had no such experience. I was very good at what I did and could take a project near to completion on my own because I was the designer, constructor, tester, coder, modifier, and more. Steve Jobs never let up in the pursuit for excellence, to have the best company ever. Mike Markkula had a lot of prior business success and he ran marketing in a professional way, while lots of other startups were very unprofessional. Mike Scott was our president. He could be rough when it came to getting the needed things done, like Steve Jobs is, but he could also joke a lot. I really liked Mike Scott a lot. Rod Holt was an older engineer with engineering management thinking and expertise outside of my fields. Without him we wouldn't have had many totally completed projects that a company could actually build...Woz

3. When you were a kid my age were there any classes or hobbies that you liked that let you know that you would be good in technology?

Woz: By the time I was in 5th grade I was well on my way to an electronics future. I didn't know that electronics would lead to computers even. My 5th grade science fair project had 92 switches and lights to display the electron orbits for every atom. While this wasn't a computer, it did involve the sort of reasoning and complexity of computer logic. The electron orbits don't go in order. At some point, a switch has to swap one group for another. Some diode logic circuits were required. Also, in 5th grade I read a story where a ham radio operator was a hero and the book said that anyone of any age could get a ham radio license. This is different than driving licenses. I went to school that morning. On "Safety Patrol" (holding stop signs while students crossed the street) I told a friend that I was going to get my ham license and he surprised me by telling me of a class for such on my own block. I did get my license by 6th grade. It involved learning a lot of electronics and circuits and I even built my own transmitter and receiver.

I really advanced in computer logic circuits in 6th and 8th grades, and got the real concept of what a full computer was by 9th grade. We didn't have computers in our schools back in the 60's...Woz

4. I understand you work with students. What skills, hobbies, or classes do you tell them to focus on, to prepare for the future?

Woz: Teaching is getting harder and harder for me, with my tremendous email load. I prefer answering everyone individually (although one of my lists has hundreds of unanswered ones that came in after the "Pirates" movie) rather than have staff do it, or to publish it all. But I'm still human and can only do so much.

The primary focus of my classes for 5th through 8th graders is to show them ways to make their homework look exceptional, to impress teachers. The positive reactions of the teachers will lead to students thinking better of themselves and actually doing better work. At least that's the theory that I subscribe to. Also, just doing interesting, different, things helps motivate students and give them a good reason to spend more time on schoolwork than they might otherwise have spent.

I also focused on how networks work, including the types of data packets on the network and where they go and how they are handled. This helps the students debug network problems. This part of the class involves setting up servers with privileges as well as just accessing servers. It always included AOL accounts for my entire class, and I put heavy pressure on the parents to buy extra phone lines for the kids' computers. My real goal was to get the kids their own phones at an early age so that they could be independent but don't tell the parents I said that.

Nowdays, the online part of my class includes the internet.

The main time consuming part of my class was on how computers work, and on how to keep them maintained. I almost always had students take apart PowerBooks to exchange RAM and hard disks and modems. They had to have a good understanding of how the Operating System worked so that they could [sometimes] understand computer messages and take the right action. This part of the class is about having the skills to own and take care of your own computer.

My advanced students went into music recording, video editing, 3D graphics design and lots more...Woz

5. Do you know any good technology camps for me?

Woz: Sorry, but I don't at this time. They change a bit, but I've seen or heard of them in recent times so you might do an internet search...Woz



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