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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 



Comment from E-mail:
I was saddened to read in your "Letters" section that someone had actually TRASHED an Apple I (!!!)

Time was, many years ago, back in the heady days of the Apple II, you and I had developed quite a telephone relationship. In fact, I think we talked on almost a weekly basis for a period of almost two years. I also met you and Randy Wigginton (in fact, you were staying at the same hotel as I) during the Third West Coast Computer Faire, and even went to a party at the house of the local Apple Fan Club president, where John Draper and Bob Bishop, as well as yourself were also there. WOW!

Anyway, back in '78-'79, you told me to HANG ON to my Apple I, because, AT *THAT* TIME, you said that there were probably less than FIFTY of them left, because most of them were bought back and exchanged for Apple IIs. You also mentioned that Apple had an Apple I in a frame, with the words "Our Founder" below it. Since Apple now says that THEY don't even have an Apple I, and it is OBVIOUS that the production crew of "Pirates..." had NEITHER access to an Apple I, NOR to an ORIGINAL-CASED Apple II (sans "vent slots") for the movie, I wonder what happened to THAT specimen...

Well, to make a long story short (too late!), I took your advice, and HELD ONTO that Apple I. But, as time goes on, I find that I am interested in "authenticating" it... I can't STAND the thought of parting with it, but the time MAY come someday, that I HAVE to.

I have: An Apple I board, with a number "0064" written on the "motherboard" in "Sharpie". The system is fully expanded with 8K of RAM, and it has the famous, WORLD'S BEST Cassette Interface installed. There is the remnants of a SWTPC PR-40 "printer" interface intact, which consists of a ribbon cable soldered to the open port on the PIA, terminated in a DB-25S connector. There is also an RF modulator (Pixie-Mod?), with a Molex connector, as required. The power transformer is Stancor, and is fused. It also has the proper connector (female Molex) on it.

Everything worked the last time I turned it on, but since that was over 10 years ago, I fear for the big blue electrolytics, but I am also not fond of the idea of pulling out all the chips and bringing the power supply up on a "Variac". The chips are all original, right down to the ceramic 6502. There is also a 40 pin wirewrap socket in the "prototyping area", but nothing is stuffed in it. The Cassette I/F comes out to two RCA females on the (Keytronics?) fiberglas enclosure (which actually looks REMARKABLY like an Apple II !). Other stuff: An Apple I Owner's Manual, in a TAN cover, with a "modern" Apple Logo on it, which YOU personally sent me, along with an ORIGINAL Cassette Interface "Slick Sheet" literature (which HAS to be the RAREST of RARE!), with the "Newton's Apple" logo (!!!). SOFTWARE: A copy or two of Apple Integer BASIC, on NON-APPLE tapes (sorry!), plus a copy of the Mini-Assembler that I typed in from an article YOU wrote in Byte (or was it KiloBaud?), which I have the ORIGINAL magazine of (a Thanx, and good "talking" with you again after TOOOo long,


Woz:
Well, you certainly have it all in regard to the Apple I, including memories. I do recognize your name.

Apple may not have an Apple I. But this week A&E network came over to my home to interview me for a biography on Steve Jobs. I went up to my attic which is full of boxes of memorabilia and I was actually able to find an Apple I board and one of the first Apple ]['s, with no ventilation grooves in the plastic.

On a side note, this Friday (2000.02.11) The History Channel should be playing a "History's Lost & Found" for the first Apple I of all, which I talk about at it's location.

Comment from E-mail:
I just can't get over how much you've done, and how the media has really missed the mark in praising Uncle Bill. Thanks so much. I just hope I get this back in time to finish the paper. You've done a lot in your life, more than most people will ever do. History will eventually be set straight. You won't be forgotten. And I won't forget.

Woz:
Bill Gates is praised as being a successful businessman. If he wore praised as a programmer, then I'd be deserving of some of that sort of praise too. I just hope that my examples inspire others to see engineers as good people and to go in that direction and to use their talents to make great things and help the world and not just to make money.

Comment from E-mail:
What's the most extreme you have seen a mac user go to prove his/her loyalty to the OS and Apple? I personally think I am up there. Last fall I had the classic six-color apple logo tattooed on my upper back. Tell me, where do I fall in the extreme mac user scale?

Woz:
The most extreme that I've seen is two people that had their ankles tattooed with the color Apple logo. I was going to follow their lead but my wife said "no." That couple is left with nice reminders of their past!

Comment from E-mail:
My name is Tony and I'm from La Mesa, CA. I'm just starting to complete my MCSE and A+ certs. I just read an article on the history of Apple in the ComputorEdge Magazine dated 01/28/00. My question is, why didn't you stick with Apple and take full credit of all your achievements? It seems to me that Steve Jobs got the better of you and doesn't seem right. I don't mean to pry into your personal business, but after reading the article, I just had to send an e-mail to you. Do you like your current profession? It says in the article you are now teaching 5th grade students computing. Anyway, take care of yourself.

Woz:
I was a pure engineer and wanted only to design things, for fun and work. I didn't want to run a company and I'm way too soft and caring a person to do so effectively. I'm happy where I am and I'm doing what I want to do. I'm glad that the company is on a good track. Some personalities are appropriate for running companies and some are more appropriate for teaching.

Comment from E-mail:
Hi again. I just have to say first off that your very nice to be replying to me so quickly. I mean, sometimes you cant even get this from large companies. But anways. Something interensting happened to me this week. I picked up an Apple IIc Plus and an Apple IIgs (ROM Ver3) and well the IIgs is very very cool. Im figuring it out quickly, But what interests me is the IIc+ I dont know what it is, but i like the design, and I just think its a cool portable thing, But i cant seem to find out much information about it. I was reading the history of apple, and it sounds like it was kinda a failure due to the IIgs and the Macintosh, but is there a way i can run Apple II stuff on it, Thats basically what it is right? Except for the 400 or 800K diskdrive it has. The only problem i have is i have NO software, not even a prodos disk or dos 3.3 disk, it just goes into basic. Ive been looking up stuff for 3 days on the net now (including your page) and they all seem to skip over the poor old IIc+ I almost feel bad for the thing. Its so cool. Well i wont take up anymore of your time, but I just wanted to know, can you think of anything to get me started on this? I also wanted to know if you know where i can get a listing of commands in basic (incase this whole disk drive thing doesnt work) I guess what i need is an image file of an 400/800K (Dont know what it is, so its gotta be one of those) disk, and a program that can write that disk to an actuall 400/800K disk. Well hope to hear from you soon. See ya

Woz:
The Apple ][c was very popular. I continually run into people that remember it very well, and for many it was their favorite Apple ][ of all. It certainly was for me. I even added an early LCD screen to mine for a very easy to carry machine. The Apple ][c does require a power supply. It runs standard Apple ][ software on floppy disks.

It would take me time that I don't have to dig up technical info about these products so you'll have to do the search yourself.

Comment from E-mail:
In our AP c++ class we are trying to use virtual stacks to devlop a infix to postfix calculator transalator. To study how exactly the infix notation and postfix notation differ we used on of the very old HP calculators. I was wondering that when you worked for HP did you help devlop some postfix calculators? Do you prefer infix notation or postfix?

Woz:
Infix to postfix was common to computer scientists in 1970. But this was back when very few colleges even had computer science programs for undergraduates. Postfix notation was not common to average people who use the infix written system. Computer scientists tend to find postfix to be more 'pure' than infix. It does have the qualities of left to right operation and no parentheses. But it requires a stack, which would translate to extra memory steps for a human if we wrote expressions in postfix. I'd guess that computer scientists would feel that early expression writers stuck us with a worse system, kind of like the QWERTY keyboard. The computer scientist view of postfix is similar to the scientists' view of the metric system.

At Hewlett Packard we were so proud that our calculators, the first scientific ones ever, were years ahead of competition. They used postfix partly because the least logic or ROM chips were quite expensive back then. It would have taken extra keys and an infix to postfix translator to use infix. Also, a larger and more expensive desktop HP machine from the division in Colorado Springs used postfix, for the same reasons. The HP-35 was an attempt to miniaturize this machine.

Our marketing department had a card with a monstrous formula to demonstrate how powerful our calculators were and what postfix calculation was capable of. They challenged people to solve it on a slide rule the normal way. Well, we could all solve it on our HP calculators but it took a few tries to get the steps accurate enough, there were so many of them.

Finally Texas Instruments introduced an infix 'algebraic entry' scientific calculator. The first one showed up in our lab one day. We were all pooh-poohing it and laughing at the arithmetic entry as being too weak for engineers. Someone pulled out our big formula challenge and we all laughed, sure that nobody could ever do it with the TI calculator. A challenge went up for someone to try. After a short silence I said that I'd try.

Well I started staring at the formula and looking at the keys and trying to decide which steps to calculate first, as you would do with an HP calculator. I finally realized that I'd never be able to solve the formula this way. With my fellow engineers watching I was very self conscious but I wanted to succeed. I managed to let go of my thinking and then came up with a very amazing concept. I just copied the formula from left to right! This was such an incredible concept that I pressed the keys as fast as I could on the TI calculator, risking a wrong press but impressing my colleagues. I had to guess whether this calculator used the square root button as prefix or postfix but I guessed right and got the proper answer the first time.

My colleagues couldn't believe it. I told them that you just copy the formula from left to right but not one of them could see through their postfix fog. After all, these were the calculator experts of the world. They are well accustomed to thinking ahead and analyzing an expression to come up with the order of steps to take on an HP postfix calculator, and they had to remember which sub-expressions were in what order on the calculator's stack. None of them could do what I had done, forget that they have to be smart.

I was strongly affected for life by this experience. There's a lot of rightness in using the same system on a calculator that we all learn to use on paper, a system that has been around for hundreds of years. My pure side prefers postfix but it's not what I'd recommend to others for a calculator. I also type on a Dvorak keyboard now, but I wouldn't recommend it.


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