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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 



Comment From e-mail:
Woz, Happy New Year!

I am writing in the name of a club of children aged 8-13 years, for whom the Computer is the preferred "toy". They know a lot of the history of Apple and you are for them what Tom Swift was for you. They wrote about you an article ("The Great Kids of the Computers") in their magazine named " PC's Ateliers".

It's really a honor for us to can write to you.

Woz: I am very delighted to see your note. It means as much to me to receive it as it could have meant to you to send it. Please tell the club that there is nothing more interesting than every aspect of computers. To me, growing up, the knowledge was very much like a toy to me, even though I had little hope of ever having a computer in my life. Sometimes I wish I were born later and could grow up with computers, but then I wouldn't have been able to see how life was BEFORE computers.

Comment From e-mail:What's your opinion on how steve jobs ripped you off with the whole blockout game at atari?

Woz: It's a small thing in most regards. It hurt me because we were like best friends and I would have done it for free to help him out anyway.

Comment From e-mail: Much is made of the history behind apple hardware and microsoft O.S.'s. Not much is told of the operating system behind the Apple II. Was there one? Was it just basic?

Woz: There was a disk operating system when we came out with the floppy disk around 1978 or 1979. But the Apple ][ originally had only cassette tapes for storage. It was quite slow and there was no OS function other than to read a program in, which could then read it's own data in.

The level of the original Apple ][ 'Operating System' was that each slot could be assigned a device, which could be communicated with via BASIC. Each slot had a fixed address block assigned. Within those addresses you could include a Driver program, stored in ROM on the card that went with each device. This was true plug and play, with no separate step for driver installations.

A user could switch the printout function to any slot (and the input fuction). By switching the printout to a card that controlled AC power, for example, you could then print commands to the card which it would obey. You could also print to a card that then did other things, like change BASIC languages or switch the display to a card that could handle more characters per line.

Comment From e-mail:Woz,+ I want you to know that you have been a real shaping force in my life. When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers brought an Apple II to school one day and we salivated over it for the rest of the term. It had a clever little edugame on it where the protagonist solves a crime by working out word problems. It was a touch of greatness in a very small town.

Later, someone told me about the Apple IIGS, with color graphics and a digital sound chip. I begged and begged my dad to take me to the only computer store in the area where I could get a look at one. I brought home the brochure, and looked at it every night like it was a centerfold. Later, after I begged him beyond his ability to reason, my dad bought me a IIGS (Woz Edition) for about $800. There it sat in it's box for over a year, since we couldn't afford the display or floppy drive (I kid you not). I would take it out, plug it in and listen to it hum. No floppy to give it life, no display to shine in my darkened bedroom, but it was magic nonetheless.

When we finally got the display, floppy, and some memory (you had to upgrade the RAM before you could even use the thing), I spent every waking hour with it. I wrote a hundred text-based adventure games saved on those awesome 3.5 inch floppies (I was a ZORK fanatic). I composed opus one through six on a neat little program called Musicwriter (I still have tapes of the little ditties I composed). It was awesome. So here I am, after having graduated with a BA in Music Composition, now in pursuit of a BS in Computer Science Engineering. The box you guys made gave me a direction and a future. Now I read you're happily at work teaching young minds how to find their dreams in the digital revolution. What a fitting end to a simply inspiring life.
- Jason M.

Woz: Yours is truly an unbelievable story. You were very lucky to get that Apple ][gs. It's very obvious that it meant an awful lot to you. You appear to have followed your dreams well. I hope that you can apply the same artistry of your music composition to programming - only a few programmers are like that and they really change things.

Comment From e-mail:I was in Atlantic City in 1976 for the PC Expo? show at the Shelburne Hotel. I had a SWTPC 6800 so I had no real interest in Apple at the time, but I remember seeing the Apple 1 on display. Were both you and Steve Jobs there? I know I met one of you, but I can't remember who! (or whom LOL). I'd like to be able to tell people who I met. Was this the same one I saw with Lisa Lo*op at VCF 3.0?

Woz: Steve and I were both at PC '76. I mostly stayed in our room, adding to the BASIC. Steve and Daniel Kottke ("Dan" in "Pirates of Silicon Valley") manned the booth, so you could have spoken to either of them. One night Steve and I brought down the very newly built Apple ][ breadboard and hooked it up to the first color projector that we'd ever seen and it worked. The technician at the projector was the only one who saw it and he said that was the computer he was getting, with all the other early computers of the day in the same room. It was a real complement.


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