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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
Woz,
I emailed you a couple weeks ago about general stuff; so you don't have to reply. I was just wondering if you would post on 'yer webpage your thoughts on Apple's recent developments; Mainly the G4 Cube and Jobs' peeing pissed over ATI's prerelease (24hrs before Steve's sermon--err, keynote speech) info on the Mac graphic cards and now cancelling thier deal with ATI over it. Much obliged man. Later

Woz:
I'd be happy to give you some quick comments. I haven't thought these out too much, but here goes...

First, what I read about ATI's pre-announcement of of a hot graphics card and Steve Jobs' canceling of at least some things related to it. I heartily agree with this abrupt decision. It's painful for Macintosh enthusiasts to read every rumor about upcoming products everywhere we go. It makes being part of the rumor/knowledge crowd more important than enjoying our machines and getting proficient on them.

It's also not right to take control away from Apple as far as controlling information about Apple's business. It's equivalent to Napster taking control away from Metallica as to how their music is distributed. It may feel good, but it's wrong and disrespectful to hurt others (meaning Apple or Metallica). Agreements are agreements and should mean something.

It's also easier for competition to mount marketing campaigns to dull the impact of new Apple offerings when they have advance knowledge.

The new Apple is much more satisfying than the old Apple. I remember the old days when everyone lived for the rumor sites. It was a bit like the fanatic world of passing around illegal software or getting beta versions of stuff, legitimately or not, before it's released. It's like a frenzied pissing contest that you can never win. I prefer things more mellow. I don't like to be hearing news all day long about rumors.

I don't like everything that Steve does in an absolutist sense, overreacting to leaks and the like. But as soon as I started reading this story I felt the pain of the old days and told myself all the way through that it would be right even to cut out ATI entirely, or at least come close to it. A particular high performance card isn't enough of an incentive to me. I'm pretty sure that if someone needed this card critically, they could buy one from ATI.

The Cube is very attractive to me. I ordered a few on the web to shrink space in my own home. I'm more interested in beautifying my home computer areas than in having the fastest dual processor machine. Lots of people in our family have to see some of our computers. My approach is to get rid of ethernet hubs and ethernet wires (AirPort), USB Hubs and wires (extra ports on the computer, keyboard, and display), unsightly cables (clear ones), and power cables and associated power strips (devices that get power from USB or FireWire). The Cube is in line with all of this. Plus it's attractive like the Cinema Display, and has decent speakers. The downside, for me, is that it has an external power brick (well, that's at least out of site, and there would be a power cord regardless). Also, the previous Cinema Displays (and Studio Displays) of the past, and the display cards in the towers they came with, are all non-compatible with the new ones. I'll have to wait until I have one to see what my final opinion is.

By the way, the new mouse is clearly better than anything else ever, in it's looks and in the way it operates. I'm always glad when Apple is clearly the best choice.

Comment from E-mail:
First, like everyone else, I would like to thank you for Macs (I love em, but I like my PC better because its not propritetary and I can build it myself) and for the blue box (maybe I should be thanking crunch for that?) and the wonderous inspiration you have provided us all. Anyways, I am a younger guy (only 15), and I'm learning to program, hack hardware, and hack my own network and use linux. I was wanting to know if you think phreaking is dead, becasue I cant remember the old days and would like to know if the art is dead, or is just beginning. I would also like to know what you think of Linux, and the entire open source & hacker community. Thanks for everything.
Woz:
Phreaking is largely a desire for shy technical-only types to have a type of social interaction that is denied to them because of their strangeness. It's like psychological compensation. Social energies have to come out, even if it's not in phony conversations with all the other people, but rather in mildly anti-social ways. Phreaking is just a phrase for technically based pranks, for the most part. It's always been here and always will be.

One thing that I found is that youngsters like to learn 'how' to phreak but almost all will obey limits that are agreed upon as part of their instruction. You can be smart and not be destructive. I like to laugh, even if somebody is being tricked. But you shouldn't do things for the money, or that cause irreversible destruction.

I hope that Linux and the Open Source movement encourage hacking and that it stays on the good side of things. A world that is open is very wonderful to us technical types. But to have it we have to respect it.

Comment from E-mail:
Woz, I consider you to be the ultimate innovator in the creation of the personal computer of all time. I'd like to thank you personally for your role in shaping the industry that I work in... it really does mean a lot to me because I love working with and designing computer systems so much. I'm one of the lucky ones that absolutely loves his job, and I owe it to guys like you. :)
Woz:
Sounds like we would have been great friends.

Comment from E-mail:
Continued.: I got into designing about five years behind you and find myself wishing all of the time that I could have been around at the beginning there in CA. I actually missed the Apple 1 because I was a poor college student at the time, so my first computer was a Radio Shack Color Computer 1 (6809E). I had been playing with assembly code to develop a graphical user interface when the Macintosh came out; when I saw the Mac I knew that my dreams had been realized and I've been hooked ever since. I know that you had much much less to do with the Mac, but you still made it all possible. Thanks again, very much.

Okay, enough of the mushy stuff :), and one more question if I could...

I was reading on your web page about your interesting experiences with early computer system design, and how you were most concerned with using the fewest number of parts. (Most of my systems are designed with low part count held paramount as well.) Did you actually take the time to do a lot of cost analysis with your choice and selection of parts (in terms of quantity discounts), or did you find yourself more on the impatient side of eye-balling costs in deference to low part count regardless of cost? I guess to rephrase, if you'd have realized how many systems you could sell, how would this have affected your design approach?

Woz:
As to cost analysis, yes and no. I always kept in mind that in shooting for the fewest chips the cost had to be minimal or reasonable. Generally I did things that took fewer chips of the same general cost. I might have been a little high on the early DRAMs but it was too proper a direction to go in. On the Apple I the most expensive chips were to be the video memory. I chose cheap PMOS dynamic shift registers in 4-pin packages for this. They were the cheapest solution I could find and were very tiny for each of 7 bits.

In the end, the resources used are best represented by cost of the parts. A good designer has a lower cost design. But you can only go so far in sacrificing the needs of your customers by stripping cost. I see myself as having been very sensitive to the many tradeoffs in this regard. Otherwise, it would have been a lot easier. I'm sure that the Apple ][ was cheaper than any competition, but sold for more because we wanted enough money to grow and be successful.


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