just wanted to drop you a line! I video taped the movie "Pirates of
Silicon Valley" and I watch it all of the time. If this movie is historically
correct, I thought that you were the best and smartest person in the computer
industry. I have never owned an Apple I or an Apple II but I would like
to own one and learn how to use one. I am a computer "guru", and I love
old computers. If there is anything that the movie "pirates of silicons
valley" left out that was important please tell me! I also was wondering
if you were still friends with Steve Jobs? Thanks a lot, I really appreciate
I'm glad that you liked the movie. I'm also glad that people saw a good
role for an engineer in a popular movie. There aren't many pure engineers
that get recognized like businessmen do.
Comment from E-mail:
I read that Sculley was brought to Apple by Steve Jobs. He said
Sculley was good, everything that was nice about him. Then in 1995 or
1996 they had a quarrel then they asked Apple employees whether they chose
to stand by Jobs or Sculley. They chose Sculley. But why? Then after that,
Jobs resigned and came back to be an interim CEO in 1998. Didn't Jobs
feel angry that even his employees of a company he founded didn't want
him to be their CEO...? And lastly, what happened to Sculley? Where's
John Sculley was brought to Apple by Steve Jobs. Steve was in power this
way, as he was with John full time and mentoring him on the business and
strategies to follow. But eventually John was eventually affected by other
opinions within Apple and no longer always agreed with Steve. I don't
know anything of their specific disputes, but it was a bit like Steve
vs. the rest of the company as much as John. When John was treating Steve
on ocassion as a secondary, as a somewhat negative factor within Apple,
Steve was distraught. He tried to talk the board into ousting John for
pursuing the wrong courses and not understanding the business, the market
or the technology. John had to confront Steve on this and the executives
backed him. Steve took this hard and left Apple to pursue his work. I
felt that Steve could have worked on future things right inside of Apple,
but I wasn't close enough to know all the facts here. I suspect that Steve
would have had to swallow too much pride to stay on. And he probably felt
so confident it himself that he started Next to make a revolutionary product
and turn the tables on Apple.
Well, I do a lot of surmising here. Steve always made sense to me when
he spoke. I wish that he'd included me in some of this stuff because the
two of us might have added up to a more dramatic statement. Perhaps Steve
felt or knew that I'd be far from on his side. I do have to admit to liking
John Sculley, but I didn't hang around him. Steve's actions didn't make
as much sense to me as his words though. We all have things that we do
that may not have been so noble at one time that can still be judged in
a positive way later.
Comment from E-mail:
How would you describe the future for the G4?
Having great processing power is not that important. I'm glad that Apple
keeps moving ahead in the processor technology that it uses. But even
if you have a 50% speed advantage, that's only equivalent to a certain
number of months according to Moore's Law. Or consider other techniques
to make up 50% speed: caches, multiple processors, larger programs, etc.
These boil down to a small cost equivalence that isn't enough to make
someone choose one platform over another.
I'm so used to processor improvements every computer release that I wonder
how long it will be until the G4 is replaced by the G5, etc.
Comment from E-mail:
I feel quite disapointed to see that Woz is not working for Apple.
You watched the progress of the Mac all those years. You made the Mac!
I m just asking if that was IT? I cant really believe that. You could
offer so much to the Mac Concept (dont know of course if you already do).
Or is it just that you dont feel like it?
I didn't have any real participation in the Macintosh making, other than
having started the company that made it. There were a number of people
at Apple that saw this technology as the future and Steve Jobs was the
main person that made it happen in Apple and happen well in the Macintosh.
I did buy into the LISA/Macintosh dreams and they still drive my conscious
thinking about what is good and bad in computers more than any other thing.
I'm much more religious about this than the company seems to be.
Comment from E-mail:
Hi Woz, is me again when you said that you looked in books that almost
nobody could have known about, what yo meant?. And you built the first
universal remote control?!?! I didn't know that, whats your company's
name?. Anyway the reason I asked for your electronics background is because
I really like the diodes, resistors, and stuff but its difficult to find
any good book here where I live (Asuncin, Paraguay), and if I get one
is probably all in english and really hard to follow (like the "Hackers"
book I bought from Amazon). And one last question, about the blue boxes
did you get like a basic circuit or you also built it entirely?, at what
age you made your first phreaking. Thanks. Really.
Around 1960-1964 there were no computer books to speak of. There were
no computer magazines. My father worked at Lockheed, a military contractor.
He had some engineering journals with articles about computer projects
that had been done for the military. Nobody but engineers could even have
had such a journal.
My company was CL9 and we built the CORE universal remote control. This
was before the simple idea of preprogramming all the codes used by the
common companies was done. My device looked at the IR signal and analyzed
it and recreated it. It also had to determine if certain codes needed
to be emitted more than once to work. My device had 16 user buttons and
a few more control buttons. They were all large and finger sized. You
could put the CORE into one of 16 keyboards, so you really had 256 total
keys to use. Any key could have a sequence of any of the other keys and
any IR codes that you read in. So a single key could turn on the TV, then
turn on the VCR, then select channel 4, etc. More than that, the 'sequence'
attached to a key could access all the control buttons. The lessor used
control buttons were covered by a slider to keep things looking simpler.
This remote control kept it's own time and could emit IR signals at certain
times. You could hit "AT-5-PM-6" (4 buttons total) to execute button 6
at 5 PM. Even the buttons that programmed the main user buttons could
be included in a program. Thus button 1 could reprogram button 2, etc.
This allowed a simple level of programming without normal program loops.
You could program the remote control to skip daylight savings time with
a sequence like "AT-2-AM-Set-Hour up" (5 buttons). I was able to create
a program that would keep daylight savings time going up and down on the
right days forever, including leap years, but it was quite an effort and
required a lot of keys to hold current states.
Also, you could connect a terminal to the remote control, with a serial
link that we made, and could bring up a lot of debugging aids similar
to those on the Apple ][. The 8 bit microprocessor was like an advanced
6502. So you could enter programs in machine code and even operate the
LCD display and keyboard. I'm sort of sorry that I didn't take this capable
It's now marketed by
Work: 415-472-2393 Work Address 50 Mitchell Blvd. San Rafael, CA USA
As for the blue box, I knew the frequencies needed. I knew that some tone
generators would tend to drift with temperature and voltage. So I built
a crystal oscillator clock circuit using a 1 MHz crystal. I chose this
crystal after printing all the multiples of the needed tone frequencies
from a computer program that I ran at school (Berkeley). I then examined
all the multiples and found that every tone had a multiple near enough
to 1 MHz to use that frequency and divide it down. I created diode arrays
so that the button you pressed applied the proper starting code to some
counters. I'd then count these counters down at 1 MHz. When they reached
0, the end of the count down, they would trigger a counter reload and
the sequence would repeat. I'd toggle the speaker signal at each repeat.
Actually, I may have let them count down to all 1's in binary as the chips
tended to have that output already decoded for me. As another advance,
I had the current that flowed from the counter chips through the diodes
and the activated switch, to a common switch node, applied to a darlington
transistor amplifier (two NPN transistors, whose amplifications were multiplied,
to generate the ground power to the chips of the blue box. This was quite
tricky but it worked. Before the ground was applied, the chips only had
+5 volts, and from that voltage could supply the current through the diodes
and into the transistor pair. It was probably the best optimization of
parts that I ever did in my life and was unusually clever as a design.
it would consume virtually no power for months but turn on with any button
depression. I used a small keyboard similar to a touch tone phone, which
was available then. This was 1970.
I used the same chips and counter techniques for the horizontal and vertical
video timing signal generation of the Apple I and Apple ][ computers,
but without the diode and transistor power switch.