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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
I have to admit, I owned a computer before an Apple--one of the ill-fated Bally Basic machines--a device hampered by the lack of keyboard, and crippled by the FCC RF shield--which induced overheating in the Z80 every few minutes. I spent many a night with a can of spray coolant, frosting the Zylog CPU so that I could continue programming in BASIC. But the Apple ][+ which I got in '83...used, from my aunt, with all of 48k of ram, a tiny green-and-black monitor, and a printer which we never managed to make work...that was my true love. I learned to program, I learned about games, I learned that I was actually pretty okay at this computer stuff. I graduated to a Woz edition ][gs in the late 80s, upgraded to a whole meg of RAM. I used that until '93, when I got a powerbook. Now I've moved on to linux, via the route of windows. In linux, I see so much similarity to the early days of the Apple computer--extensibility, flexibility, a useable command-line. I've got a good job now, doing unix administration and whatnot. I'm doing it all because of that first Apple ][+ -- the machine that opened up a whole new world of prosperity for me. Thanks, man. I feel like I owe you a huge debt--but I've no idea how to pay it back.
Woz:
The fact is that these machines and this path took you to your destiny. You probably would have found it anyway, but these memories (that we all have) are too meaningful to put in words. I don't know why, logically, so many attribute their computer happiness today to their early computer experiences, but that's how we humans are.

The best way to pay these unpayable things back is to inspire and not block other young people from finding their true directions, especially when it involves computers. Spend a few hours or days helping a youngster with computer fun or tasks and they will remember you always. Pass on the joy and fun and meaning of computers to just one person and you've more than paid me back. Just remember that computer life is not necessarily for everyone.

Comment from E-mail:
This something more akin to a statement. You have it all together. Computer, or no computers. I imagine that if you had done anything else you would have been well centered. This is why people seem to attracted to you. It would appear that there is no threat in you to anyone or anything.
Woz:
I believe that you have hit this one on the nail. I consider your comments extreme flattery because all of my life, beginning in early school years, has been aimed at being centered, in the senses of having my feet on the ground and not being of extreme personality or anything else. I less know the reason, but I never try to be a threat to anyone. It's the main reason I wouldn't want to run a company.

Comment from E-mail:
You are different from Mr Jobs. From what I can tell (without something like the web) the Apple computer would have flopped. It took massive ego to for someone to have the vision that Mr Jobs did. You two would seem to sit on different side of the spectrum of ego, greed, and kindness. Somewhere in the middle you both changed things, with you being all too sane and Mr Job all ego and crazy.
Woz:
Very well said. A company needs many diverse parts, and we both filled critical roles in Apple. I still think that Steve Jobs' important contributions could have been made without so many stories that we hear of his negative dealings with people.

Comment from E-mail:
I want to know how a program works. I know it starts in a editor then to a program language then to binary but then how does it work. why isnt every program just a BASIC file like on the ][C. And kind you just tell me what I need to try to program in binary and where to start. I mean is there a prompt I type in the 1's and 0's.
Woz:
Computers read instructions made of 1's and 0's. These instructions perform small functions.. This language is very attractive to hardware designers: computer hardware is designed to execute these instructions. In years of lore, hardware was the crucial element of computers sa this machine language was easy to use.

Early computer programmers developed easier to use languages with written instructions that worked at a higher level, closer to normal human thought. These languages more closely resemmbled flow charts that a human might write on paper. As in algebra, variables had names, like A or C1, instead of addresses like 101100111010. A compiler could translate these more human languages into the 1's and 0's code that computers really could run, into machine language. This made programming faster but the resulting programs were not as fast as if they'd been written in machine language by a programmer. Sometimes the difference in execution speed was as great as 10:1.

Languages like BASIC were the easiest to use. The programming and editing were one and the same. The program sat in memory, character for character the same as the programmer typed in. This is the most understandable form of all to humans. Your program is the program. There isn't a conversion step to another form. But another special program, called an interpreter, had to scan the BASIC program, letter by letter, line by line, as it ran and figure out what it meant and then do those tasks. This job made such languages many times slower than ones that were prescanned, by compilers, and translated to machine language.

I can't make all of this very clear without direct and lengthy explanations, with examples and quizzes and constructions and programs of your own. So you have to take it on faith until you get experience with all of these levels of programming. The Apple ][ was a great machine to program in binary but that's not common anymore. College courses cover this great experience, with microprocessors. Good luck. If you want to understand it you will someday.rades


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