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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 



Comment From e-mail: Dear Woz, Your philosophy of life-as I have read it-seems to reflect a philosophy I had always been taught but never fully understood until I "experimented" with my mind in a "Grateful Dead" kind of way during my college and post college years.I found it a very profound and moving experience that for the first time in my life had the absolute ring of truth. In other words I discovered a philosophy of brotherhood, kindness and the oneness of all things that was not just a mere belief for me - but more of actually "knowing" as truth" deep in my heart.

I debate with people constantly about the importance of the Psychedelic experience in America's past-as a major influence in the social changes that have occurred as well as creative development of many things important to the human saga-one of them being the computer. It is not anything I have read but more of something that I have felt though I have no factual basis to back this up.

So I wanted to ask you if those type of mind expanding experiences influenced you, not just in your personal philosophies but also as a creative spark in your invention of the Apple computer ?

My girlfriend thinks anyone who has "been on the bus" is a loser. I tell her that it is the complete opposite,that it is these types of people who led the way for many of the advancements-both social and technical-in our society today,and that the world is a better place because of it. Am I correct in my thinking or do I need to eat my words ? I look forward to your answer and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing a good Karma computer like the Apple into existence and for being the person you are.Once again, the world is a better place because of it.


Woz: My philosophy of life is deeply internal but it also includes being able to tell close ones, including parents, about anything you do, even if they might consider it wrong. It's one thing that kept me away from drugs. I would only do things that I was willing to say I believed were right. As long as I believe it internally strong enough to tell even my parents, I had a very good internal feeling for why my behavior was right.

In the case of blue boxes, I broke the law (I was absolutely an 'ethical' phone phreak here) but I told my parents. They didn't like it but somehow didn't turn on me. Probably that was because I was honest and they could see my side and could accept this stuff as being interesting enough to attract me and they understood me better.

I was very bright and didn't want to risk a good future with drugs. I found that I didn't need to. I could be among others smoking pot and taking LSD and was accepted by them anyway. Partly that was due to my youth and hippie look; partly it was due to my acceptance of others' behavior without preaching an absolute view of behavior for all. I only had to say "I'll pass" and I was still included in parties. Only a couple of times was I excluded and feared as a possible narc.

I think that it's possible to have an incredibly open mind with or without drugs. You just have to believe in that and believe in yourself.

Comment From e-mail: I was just wondering what you think of Steve Jobs being the now Official CEO of apple again. Do you think he has what it takes to keep the company going as well as it is now, is seems he has done a LOT of growing up since he was pushed out of the company so long ago. Do you think he might get to comfortable again and the same problems will crop up again?

Woz: I like what Steve has always pursued. We probably had some differences when I felt that the Apple ][ was being unfairly discriminated against, within Apple, for products like the Apple /// and the Macintosh. But I've never seen Steve pursue less than the best and products that change things for the better.

I feel, like many others have said, that Steve has matured and is a better judge of the impact of rash negative behavior. But I'm just guessing. In 30 years I've never seen this side of him.

Comment From e-mail: I am thoroughly impressed by you creation of the first apple computers (and some other nifty electronic gadgets.) I have a nice little tech bench set up in my apartment, and spend a lot of time tinkering and inventing little projects, but nothing on the scale of a computer. I am aware that you gave away your schematics for the first apple at the Stanford homebrew meetings, and was wondering if you still had a copy? I am very interested to see the components you used, and to gauge the possibility of building such a device on my own. I know that it will not bear the same accomplishment as actually designing the machine and then producing it 20 years ago, but I am very interested in the fundamental concepts of computers and would have a lot fun trying to make a computer. I was also wondering where you learned most of your electrical engineering. Books? school? any specific books or courses?

Woz: The schematics that I gave away were of the Apple I. It used some PMOS shift registers (2904 and 2919 I believe) to cycle the screen data, changing characters at the precisely right time. These chips, I'm sure, are unavailable today.

The Apple ][ schematics were in our early manuals. You can probably find one of these somewhere.

Although I started designing computers at an early age, ones I could never hope to build, I mainly built a lot of small projects. That's where I learned techniques. But today you can't design at the component and gate level as much if you're planning on a computer. It's pretty much all done in LSI chips.

I learned my electronics from my father (an engineer), from early electronic kits (hard to find nowadays), from getting a ham radio license (you had to build your own tube based receiver and transmitter back then), from Popular Electronics magazine, from some rare computer journal articles, from Terman's book (a famous old one from the tube days, Terman taught at Stanford), from chip manuals with example circuits, and from computer manuals with logic diagrams of various parts and sometimes code examples.

Comment From e-mail: I doubt this will be actually read by you but here goes.I want to thank you for your contribution to this world the Apple computer!My first experience with a computer was in middle school(`83)I believe.I used the Apple II computer.I remember just typing commands that would spell something after I typed the word "run"..lol..Later in high school I took basic programming but unfortunately didn't go any further with it.My interests were mostly in playing games.I remember a friend of mine got a Mac and we would play Ultima IV for hours.This was sometime in the eighties.Now its the year 2000 and six months ago I purchased a Emachines 400i computer.Man things have changed so much.I feel totally lost in the computer world today.I cant keep up with the upgrade maddness.Did you ever envision that your invention would go this far?In closing I want to say its really nice to be able to talk to a forefather of the computer age.

Woz: I didn't think that I'd actually get to write to you, but here goes...

It's hard to catch up with everything that's happened, but the world is getting to the point that you can come in new and learn just the new ways, mostly on the web, and do OK. Even my mom does OK.

If I ever thought that it would get this complicated and a nightmare to maintain more than a couple of computers, I would have probably not have done it.


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