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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 


Comment from E-mail:
[regarding the Apple I terminal] Did that solution come to you in a flash, or did you dream it, or was it on the top of your mind upon awakening one day, or a serendipitous confluence of events, or.... (you can see I am very interested in the creative process). May I send this email to Terry White for our club newsletter? : )

Woz:
The terminal portion of the Apple I was designed a year before I even started designing a microcomputer. I built it to access the ARPANet after seeing my phone phreak friend John Draper (Captain Crunch) accessing this incredible thing. I even let a timesharing outfit in Mountain View (Call Computer, Alex Kamrodt) build and sell these terminals but he didn't go far with it. The ideas for it were a blend of trying to minimize chips and cost. With the Apple I this TV terminal was just tacked on. The only integration was to use the terminal's horizontal and vertical counters to provide complete sequences to refresh the dynamic RAM of the Apple I. Oddly enough, the Apple I and Apple ][ were the only early hobby computers to use dynamic RAM. It took a bit of engineering but saved me tons of RAM chips because the DRAMs were 4 times as dense as SRAMS (Static RAMS) that others used. The 4K DRAMs used in the Apple I were the first RAM chip ever that was cheaper than the core memories of every computer before (minicomputers and mainframes).

Sure, you can do what you want with the email. I copied Al, my webmaster, on it and he could have posted it on my website. I never have time to check on what he posts. I figure that I'll have a lot of my book written if I get enough good questions.

Comment from E-mail:
In one book I read about you, it stated you use to religiously play GrandTrack (the first game with a steering wheel) when you and Steve Jobs hung out at Atari. The book went further to say that you were once a mainframe programmer at the Department of Motor Vehicles after leaving university and taking some night school courses at a local college. That's why I asked about your interest in software...

Woz:
I worked one year programming a medium size computer for Tenet, Inc to earn money for my 3rd year of college (at Berkeley). They went bankrupt but sold 2 machines to the Calif. Dept. of Motor Vehicles, which served that department very well for 15 or 20 years. The DMV's attempted upgrade (to Tandem machines) was a huge disaster with cost overruns ($100M's) and a system that wouldn't and couldn't work. I didn't actually program at the DMV.

Comment from E-mail:
By the way, I found it surprising you use a Dvorak keyboard. I don't know too many people who use that. I think a friend of mine mentioned he had to write a terminal emulation program and had to map it to a Dvorak keyboard when he was in school...:)

Woz:
After explaining the Dvorak keyboard to students for years, and seeing the result of a school exercise where each student had to count occurances of each letter in a sentence (I got to teach some spreadsheet functions for this) and sum the reselts (which matched the Dvorak keyboard) I decided it was less hypocritical to be one of the few that would take the plunge. I hate sentences this long.

Comment from E-mail:
Now - why did I e-mail you? Just to tell you of my love for the computer you made? Basically. I think you deserve all the thanks in the world, sir. Steve Jobs took credit for so much of your brilliance. I am glad "Pirates of Silicon Valley" (which by the way is my favorite movie and my friends and I quote from it on a daily basis) put you in the spotlight a little more.

Woz:
I don't think that Steve claims credit now for things that I did. There was an early period in which he left magazines and people with the impression that he was part of the engineering team, but that cleared up over time. Steve's important role, different but more important to some people, is widely recognized today and I echo those sentiments. I did have the talents to construct some great hardware but I would not likely have brought them to the world. I alone would have wound up passing out schematics, sort of like Linux is 'open sourced' today.

Steve does seem to overlook how important the Apple ][ was and proclaim the Macintosh as the only major product the company ever produced. But I think that such comments, by himself or others that are influenced by him, are meant to address the 'current' products of the company in relationship to the world. Personally, he acknowledges myself and others for the important beginning, and is extremely gracious and I am indebted and glad.

 


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