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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 



Comment From e-mail: I read an aritcle on ram magazine(greek mag.) about you and steve jobs...:) I read that you are a guru of computers and I thought that if you weren't around, probably there will not be many things as they are now ... sorry for my english but I am from greece so you know...I am 16 years old and I like pc's very much...

Woz: I am greatly honored. Don't forget that my contributions to the earliest popular home computer wouldn't have been noticed if Apple hadn't done well as a company...Woz

Comment From e-mail: I want to thank you for all the things you brought us ...

Woz: I know that you want to thank all the people of the world that helped these computer things come along, but thank you for considering me as a symbol of that...Woz

Comment From e-mail: I read that Steve Jobs became an egoist but you stayed as you were...

Woz: I think that Steve is level headed. His reputation for being an egotist is probably not because he sees his own greatness. That probably helps him do the things that make him great with enough confidence that he succeeds a lot. It's probably more due to the way he has treated others as though they are worth very little and not as great as he. I had a very strong head, with good philosophies that I believed in deeply. I knew who I was and what I wanted from life and what I wanted to be. It sounds unbelievable but it's true and I'm very lucky for it. I don't do what others think I should, I stick to being who I want to be. That's the reason I seem that way...Woz

Comment From e-mail: I also am a hacker but with the old meaning of the word...i like to explore all systems...especially unix-liked...I run Linux on my pc 'cause windows :]

Woz: You're in with the right sort of people today.

Comment From e-mail: I want very much to answer my mail...i will be very proud if you will do this.....

Woz: Please remember that I am deluged with lots of email all the time, so don't write all the time or every other fan will lose out.

Comment From e-mail: Could you give me some good advice?

Woz: Do what you really love to do. Do it hard and try to be the best you possibly can. Forego a lot of other things in life, particularly things that can make your interest less serious. Know that you don't have to argue with people and prove every point, you can just know that your own thinking is right and good by your own standards. You can just walk away from someone that doesn't hear you or see things your way, and you can be polite and don't have to stoop to saying bad things about others. Your victory is in knowing that your own brain is good and that you know it even if others don't. Be forgiving. When others are bad to you, be good to them. The internal peace and happiness that being a good person brings will get you further in all other aspects of your life.

Comment From e-mail: A couple of my friends and I have been wondering where exactly did the Apple logo come from, and why is the Apple somewhat bitten? A friend said that the logo is in memory of a famous man who committed suicide by poisoning his Apple and thus only taking one bite. He was found with the apple at his nightstand. Is this true and why the name Apple?

Woz: Steve and I wanted a color logo with the Apple theme and the Regis McKinna agency, which we were just hiring, came up with it. Steve Jobs rearranged the colors with the darker blue at the bottom and lighter green at the top, rather than keeping them in rainbow order.

The guy who committed suicide as you say was an Apple manager. Just kidding.

I never heard any reason for the name other than it sounded good and interesting. Steve Jobs came up with it. He was into natural foods and things at the time, and Apple is a healthy name.

I also knew when Gates gave Steve that money a few years back that it had a bigger meaning then Gates just saying that this was to keep compitetion in the OS market.  Maybe...and I say this with sarcasim, maybe somewhere in the back of Gates mind he knows he did wrong I was trying to make it right.  But at the same time he was still looking out for his best interest.  Now that Microsoft and Apple have this new relationship, what does this really mean?  To see them as friends after seeing the movie, seem to be just a front to the consumer.

Gates didn't give Steve (or Apple) any money. He traded a certain amount of money for stock that was worth that amount as part of a huge legal settlement for claims that Microsoft infringed on Apple's intellectual property (patents and the like). The reason for Apple wanting the investment was for the PR and how folks like yourself would perceive it. The whole truth was kept from the public for this reason.

Comment From e-mail: First of all I just wanted to say you have been a personal hero of mine since I was a young kid. Now my question is solder safe? I have always enjoyed fiddling with electronics but I became real paranoid about coming in contact with it since reading the warning label. Do you still do anything with electronics?

Woz: I assure you that you can use solder all the time, just like I did, and you won't ja.d altkjglu ks ,soot ansfk ak appe

Comment From e-mail: What kind of a job do you think Steve is doing at Apple?

Woz: I think that he is doing a good job of belt tightening first, getting the company healthy, and then moving forward from there. Apple is doing more than any other company to advance what computers are.

Comment From e-mail: What was Steves position at Apple when he brought Skulley in as President?

Woz: He was looking for someone to relieve Mike Markkula in that position.

Comment From e-mail: What did you think about Gil Amelio/ Deisel Spindler?

Woz: I think that Amelio had the management approach to stabilize Apple if not the vision of Steve Jobs. Amelio was more like a lot of Mac owners but that can be a defect too. We see things from the point of viewing of keeping the Macintosh 'past' alive and working and have trouble scuttling it.

I didn't really know Spindler.

Comment From e-mail: My favorite computer is the Apple IIgs. To me it was a nice blend of the future(Macintosh), and the past (Apple II). How involved were you in the development of the IIgs?

Woz: Apple dropped the Apple ][ from it's own concerns between 1980 and 1983, years in which it was the largest selling computer in the world. Every ad from Apple in those years is of an Apple ///. Every employee had an Apple ///. Very few Apple ][ projects were approved. When John Sculley joined Apple he reduced the Apple /// attention. I came back to Apple at the same time and worked on a new machine, the Apple ][x. It saved a lot of jobs, my being associated with a new computer project. Finally, this advanced Apple ][ was cancelled. But shortly thereafter the same engineers came up with the Apple ][gs with a much improved graphics and sound system. I was primarily inspiration. Perhaps I helped these engineers be willing to risk new and better development than otherwise.

The Apple ][gs was a very good step for the Apple ][.

Comment From e-mail: After accumulating lots of knowledge on you and Steve in the beginning of Apple, I've come to the conclusion that you should be more credited than you are. I mean, you're the one who created the Apple 1. You're the one who made it all work, and work inexpensively, something that no other individual or person could do. So why aren't you credited with being a genius or something?

Woz: The world tends to remember those who are business leaders over engineers and scientists. Newspapers and magazines don't as much have current material to write in which they can use my name, but they have lots of current things to say about many others.

Series of Questions From e-mail:
1) I am a student representative on my high school's technology committee. Based on your experience, what advice can you give to the committee and to teachers in general about computers in schools?

Woz: First, I'd advise you to have some clear ideas of what your purpose is and what you want to achieve. This should be in terms of what characteristics of the schools and students you want to promote. Let's call it a mission statement. Educators and Administrators have to be included in forming this statement. It should have about a dozen or so key points ('acedemic excellence' might be one) and should be written. Perhaps your school already has a mission statement to work from. From that you can derive technical goals for your committee. When questions arise (platforms, access, services) you can answer those questions (sometimes) by looking at your overall mission statement.

You may want to consider the aspect of plurality and of minority platforms. It may be important that mixtures of platform be elevated so as not to give students experience with only on. This may override other efficiencies, depending on your mission statement.

2) My school district is very worried about students going to porn sites. As a result, the security is so tight that students feel like they can't even use the school's computers. What do you think about this?

Woz: Personally, I believe that students learn more and faster when educated rather than restricted. But I believe that these things should be the choice of each individual parent. That generally leaves schools no choice, especially after parents complain. If all students have to log in then you could possibly 'record' access to such sites, using the protective server software, and report it to parents. A better approach might be to make a contract with the students that they are given more privileges than at most schools as long as they don't do certain things. In my own classes, for example, I've always put out the goal of accessing other student's computers over the network to have fun, even to mess up the computer a bit. But I make the deal that they can never touch another's computer directly, only over the network, and that any changes can be undone easily. In 8 years my students have never violated this, but they do have a close relationship with me.

3) In an interview with MacAddict, you said that you hoped computers "would get simpler, but they always get more complex." Do you still feel that way?

Woz: Yes. It's hard to explain many functions and error messages. Even the words are very hard to understand. The basic simplicity and the sophisticated features of powerful programs are hard to find, especially since menu and setup wording is not the best. More than almost anything else is the problem of having lots of interesting and fun and useful programs that don't go well with the latest OS upgrades. It's sometimes very hard for anyone but an expert to solve such problems. So the students wind up being slaves to the technology, less important in some respects than the administrators. For a while, when we started, things were reversed.

4) What do you think about Steve Jobs being CEO again?

Woz: I think that he has a good head that does common sense things. Even his experiences away from Apple helped him see other important aspects of the world and markets.

5) Who has made the biggest impact on your life?

Woz: My father, followed by my high school electronics teacher who hand the most excellent course and who arranged for me to program computers at a local company since our school had no computers. My father taught me electronics whenever I needed the knowledge and gave me strong ethical and educational values.

6) Can you tell us about "Dial-a-Joke" and some of your recent practical jokes?

Woz: Dial-a-Joke was a GREAT thing. I did it all alone, a little before Apple. I did a lot of great things back then. Dial-a-Joke was the first one in the San Francisco Bay area ever. It cost a lot because you couldn't buy answering machines back then. You could only rent an expensive machine from the phone company.

I can't even start on pranks. I still pull good ones all the time. This would be too long a story. Perhaps I'll get to my book some day.

7) I helped someone visit their first website last week. It was almost as if this person was afraid of technology. Would you like to give this person any advice?

Woz: If the person has time, they can become an expert browser and advisor to others. It's the future and they can be a leader, even with very little experience. Try not to have dissatisfying experiences at the start. Computer setups can be a total turnoff. I got my mom WebTV and all she does is push one button and is connected. She's been on the Internet and sending email every day since. I get jokes from her all the time. If you want to do it with a computer and you're timid, please use an iMac or iBook. If you don't want to get into 'ISP' get America Online, which comes pre-installed on all computers. It has a front end that helps you learn how to use this extensive world.

8) Some people claim that Bill Gates will be given credit for creating the personal computer in the history books. What do you think about this and Microsoft in general?

Woz: That's ridiculous. Bill did have an important part. In 1975 when I was in the Homebrew Computer Club and designing my computer, Bill's BASIC brought a usable computer language to those technicians that could now afford a cheap Altair computer. Tons of games were the starting point for this revolution.

I'd spent a couple of important, earlier years of my life teaching myself to program a computer language in machine language, even though I never had access to a computer to even start debugging my programs. They were just written on paper, generally during college math classes and the like. I awe Bill Gates' BASIC and decided that was the language for me to use on my 'second' computer, which became the Apple I (the first had been built a few years earlier). In the end, I spent a lot more time on this than on the hardware designs and other things.

Do note that I did all the hardware and software and keyboard control programs and BASIC and graphic programs and apps and demos and peripherals (cassette interface, printer interface and driver, serial interfaces and drivers, floppy controller and driver and boot code and OS kernel, and more). Bill Gates gave up engineering (programming) after one program and made all of Microsoft's programs as a businessman, primarily 'buying' them.

Once in a while history credits the scientist or engineer over the businessman. Einstein is an example of this. But usually the measure is in terms of dollars and power and longevity in the business.

9) What kind of an impact have kids had on your life?

Woz: It was the greatest goal of my life to have kids and I am very lucky. The happiest and most important day of my life was the birth of my first son.

10) What would you do if you were 17 years old today?

Woz: I'd learn everything I could about computers that isn't easily encountered in school. I'd try to write programs that aren't in books just to figure out how to write them, using any books or references I could stumble onto. If the passion is strong enough, you learn no matter what.

11) What is your favorite quote?

Woz: A family of five deserves five votes. It's my own quote. Schools get funding from government. Government spending is in accordance with voting power. The kids that we are trying to help in schools don't get counted in this money allocation method. In California (50th in class size, 43rd in $ per student, 47th in computers per student) we require 2/3 of the vote, not 1/2, to pass property tax overrides for a school district to get more funding, yet only 1/3 of the families have children in the schools. If a family of 5 had 5 votes, these override issues would pass with 67% a lot more. Now they often fail with 63% of the vote. It's a shame.

If a family of five had five votes, schools would wind up with perhaps twice as much money and we'd have the great education that we say we want and that we are wealthy enough to afford. We'd have a lot fewer students fall through the cracks and be 'lost' with unproductive lives. Class size is the biggest key to this.

12) How would you like people to think of you 50 years from now?

Woz: That I was a great engineer and a free thinking person about my designs and that I cared about people too much to go for the politics of business.

If possible, please send some pictures of yourself that I can put in the interview. I'll post everything that you send me.

Woz: I'm a bit short here, but you can grab pictures from my web site, woz.org.

Woz, you really have no idea what this means to me. If I'm ever interviewed and someone asks me "Who made the biggest impact on your life?", I'm going to say Steve Wozniak without hesitation. Your interview is the best present anyone has ever given me.

Woz: Thank you very much and Happy New Year (in a few hours for myself).


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