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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:

I've seen in books (though I cannot remember which one(s)!) original adverts for the Apple I. I've also seen talk about it online, but, for me, one question remains: what's with the price? Why $666.66?

It doesn't offend me, but I'm sure some people, sometime, must've been.


Woz:
I've always collected good phone numbers with repeating digits. It goes back to when I ran the first dial-a-joke in the SF Bay Area and needed good numbers. For example, I once had 255-6666 for dial-a-joke. We first knew that the Byte Shop of Palo Alto would be buying the Apple I computers from us for $500 each. Steve came up with something like $650 or $666 or, quite likely, $667, which is a logical 4:3 ratio. I spotted this and added .66 to keep all the digits the same. I'd never attended church nor read the bible so I didn't know of any negative connotation with 666. Neither did Steve Jobs. We were quite surprised when people told us. Sorry, but no connection.

Comment from E-mail:
1. What do you feel about the iMac, how it is shaped, colors, etc?

Woz: I like it for newcomers. It's not offensive and makes a computer look less techie. At first I thought it was too cheap and cheesy for one, but I've changed my mind, both with its success and with the success that I've had using many of them in my home and office. I even use them for web servers.

Comment from E-mail:
2. Where do you think computing is headed in the future?

Woz: Simpler computers where your OS and desktop are less important, and your browser is more important. I don't think that it will go totally there, but for the most part we will eventually learn to keep all of our valuable data on servers, just like we keep our money in a bank. We'll also trust servers for the most recent and working forms of software. Only a few of us won't tire of continually updating our computers to make them better. It will be like cars in this sense.

Comment from E-mail:
3. What did it feel like to have developed the first real personal computer the Apple II?

Woz: I just had a good time. My life was going to be great forever as soon as I had a computer that could do my typing, play games, and help me write simple programs. I actually had that with the Apple ][ so everything since has been gravy -- I've been a user and beneficiary rather than creator. I'm glad that the Apple ][ was one of the great products of history.

Comment from E-mail:
4. What do you think of the media blaming recent events like the Columbine shootings on things like computer games?

Woz: I'm in a high school play right now. It's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." One joke line of this 40 year old play is something like "It took a man named Gatling to create a machine gun but it took a genius to turn it into the program "The Untouchables." That doesn't fit your question but it's funny. There have always been murders and there always will be. There have always been mass murders and there always will be. These have occurred among young teenagers even way back in our own country's history. Schools are recognized as stressful psychological institutions, where a leading cause of death (number 1 for college) is suicide. It's phony to think that we can reduce the number of such incidents by phony zero tolerance programs or phony counseling or by restricting computer games. When did you read a popular novel or see a popular movie that didn't have lots of homicides? You'll learn more about people by looking at their reasons for blaming such things on video games. Some are sincere, but these sincere people generally like to say that it's because of bad parents. In this case, it wasn't due to bad parents. Funny. Most crime is committed by poor people whose parents have less time for them. It's not that the parents are bad and don't pay attention because they don't want to. It's actually harder for poor people to focus as much on many things when they have to figure how to stretch things out in other ways. There's logic to video game violence being connected with real violence but it's not scientifically tested. Such social psychology tests show one thing and try to convince you that it equates to pulling a gun in school. But you have to take a mental leap. That's not how we should develop opinions about how things work. Other people just want to blame things all the time. Older people particularly like to forget about being young and blame fun kid things for all the troubles of the world.

Comment from E-mail:
5. How do you feel on how far computers have gotten so far?

Woz: I think that it's great. They really have freed us from restrictions of the past. I feel much freer the more I can do. I can even email you today. I never would have had time for written correspondence. Nicholas Negroponte pointed out the important differences are between bits and atoms, between information and physical objects. The thing about this question is that we are not at the end of the electronic/computer revolution yet. Let's say that in the next decade or so computers become 10 or 100 times as powerful as they are today. Movies will fit on your fingernail for example. We're only in the 'between' stage now. I'm lucky to have seen the 'before' but probably won't see the 'after'.

Comment from E-mail:
6. Do you think the Internet is the future?

Woz: Doesn't everyone?

Comment from E-mail:
7. What do you like more, software or hardware, and what do you think is more important?

Woz: I was a hardware developer back when that's all you could build for people. I did all the software for the early Apple computers also. I wrote software in the way that I designed hardware, looking for tricks similarly and continuing to look for better approaches way beyond the normal. But I did best at what's called low-level software, that which is close to the hardware operations and which is written in machine language. Today software is the difference in the operation of computers and application programs, so it's a strictly software world. You'll find very few different sets of hardware today and they really don't make a lot of difference. Compare the MacOS to Windows and you'll find differences. Yet they both use the same sorts of parts and interface to the same sorts of peripherals.

Comment from E-mail:
8. If you could have done one more thing that would be really really big in the computing world what would you have wanted it to be?

Woz: I can't say, sorry...

Comment from E-mail:
9. How do you think schools should be mixed with technology, what do you think is the best school platform?

Woz: Either Windows or Macintosh is OK as a school platform. When possible there should be provision that teachers that want the other platform can have it, with the possible understanding that there may be less support, depending on the size of the technology staff of the district. This relates to principals and values that we should carry over to the students, about accepting diversity and the like.

Last question!

Comment from E-mail:
10. What do you like most about todays computers(i.e. GUI's, color monitors, etc)

Woz: I'd never want to go back. I often get asked technical questions about the Apple ][ but I haven't used it for years.

Thanks a lot Steve talk to you some other day!


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