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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
What do you think of Steven Levy's book 'Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution' specifically the chapter titled 'Woz'?
Woz:
I loved it. Very accurate, very interesting. Most other Apple books bore me or have huge errors concerning those early years and how much I did. So I don't bother to read very far in the other books. Many readers (and watchers) are interested in what serious and talented technical people are like and how they operate when they are young and creative, not how company execs think and act.

I was glad that "Pirates of Silicon Valley" had the interesting tone of the book "Hackers."

Comment from E-mail:
Just wanted to say that you are one of the men I admire most. Right up there with John Lennon. If only someone with your integrity would get elected president. Of course anyone with our level of integrity wouldn't get elected.
Woz:
Well, thank you. I'm sorry people with the highest integrity can't often be elected because they can't stoop to the demands of the political games. I generally don't vote, but I plan to vote for Ralph Nader because he can't be bought.

Comment from E-mail:
I develop web sites for a living, and was at the 5k awards site. This site gives awards for good design in a small package. Developers see if they can design a site that is interesting and still under 5k. One of them is a 3D version of Tetris, which I know is your favorite game.
Woz:
I have to check this website out. I'm generally too busy to hear about a lot of things that really appeal to me. I'm talking about developers creating good sites in small space. Saving resources was always 'my thing' and very important to me. It's fun when you do it, and art when you do it so seriously that every little improvement is worth a lot of work. Brute force web sites are just brute force, not cleverness, in action.

Comment from E-mail:
Keep up the great work you do with the students you teach. Education is the most necessary, and unfortunately one of the most neglected things in this society.
Woz:
We probably need both types of people, some that care about kids and education and some that run businesses. It's hard to have some success, like Apple, and try to remain who you really are and to do the things you would have done without Apple. That's where I was immune to the success. I'm very thankful for who I am. I know that the fame has interfered a bit, mainly taking away the time I need to do things that are 'in' me. But I got to have more of the full life I always imagined, including family and community respect. I got to do some things that I likely would have done anyway, like teach.

Comment from E-mail:
Get back to Apple if you have the time and keep Steve in line :)
Woz:
Yikes. Business is for the sharks for the most part.

Comment from E-mail:
Wow, you did respond :-) Thank You. So I'm living in Mountain View, just moved here about 8 months ago. Moved from small town america in Pennsylvania and I'm working for a company in Sunnyvale called idealab!. You being a Silicon Valley native, perhaps you could suggest some things to do. I really don't know anyone in the area, I'm not much of a party kind of person. I'm mainly just a Linux computer guy who came to the valley for the same reason everyone comes to the valley and then later realizing that the high pay doesn't amount to much since I'm paying unbelieve amount of money just to maintain my living. Was it always like this? If not, can you put your finger on the turning point?
Woz:
Well, you're actually close by. Even if you're not a party person you may like popular music. Some great concerts are in your area at Shoreline Amphitheater. I would suggest trying to get tickets to Bare Naked Ladies and the Bridge School benefit.

I don't know your age but you might enjoy Malibu Grand Prix where you race small cars. I liked doing that before and after Apple. In fact, my first date with the mother of my children was going there, and I was glad to beat her as she was a former Olympian.

If you're a recent transplant from Pennsylvania, you've surely heard how California has everything. That includes the gold country and one of the wonders of the world, Yosemite. You can at least 'escape' the valley once in a while. Heck, you can even drive to Tahoe and gamble if you want to.

I grew up in Santa Clara Valley and saw it change to Silicon Valley. I lived in a beautiful Eichler home in Sunnyvale, at the Cupertino border, and the area was mostly orchards. Everything was fresh and new and there were lots of kids. There was no crowding. There wasn't a high cost of living. it wasn't such a work-hard, work-serious place. There was a lot of electronics but not as much geekness as now. The negative changes from what I grew up in (air quality, traffic, cost of living, constant 'industry' talk, etc.) is why I want to leave as soon as my kids are out of school. I want to move to a quieter and more peaceful place.

I'd say that the turning point to which you refer came about during the 80's, in the wealth frenzy that was signaled by companies like Apple.

Comment from E-mail:
So ever since the Pirates of Silicon Valley, I have this new found love for Apple that I honestly never even considered previous to understanding how it really went down in the beginning. It's a great story. Apple should have a museum, like the Intel museum I went to today over on Mission College Blvd. Small, but nice considering it's free. I personally really wasn't impressed with the San Jose Tech Museum for some reason. Actually I think it's wonderful for small children, but I had more fun watching the children enjoy themselves then I actually did with the museum itself.
Woz:
There are indeed a lot of very amazing and impressive stories around this valley, certainly more than anywhere else in the world. But consider that this valley is suffering from fame, just as a person can. Everything seems so important here, that it takes over your life. Other things seem to get less attention. The wealth insures that companies will start up here for a long time, partly because investors want to invest close to home where they can watch things better. Well, it's a vicious spiral and you can't even tell what the original valley was.

Heck, I've remained closer to who I always was than most anyone, but even I have trouble knowing the real 'I' that would be here if all this hadn't happened.

Comment from E-mail:
I have some thoughts on creativity and computers, and I'd be glad if I can share it with you.

I used a Mac for the first time when I was in 5th grade. That Mac came with HyperCard, with which I could make my original picture books, games, address books, and so on. The Apple II comes with BASIC along with provocative examples. (AppleVision etc..)

But today's Macs only come with a Web browser.. (and Nanosaur if an iMac :) If a computer comes only with a Web browser, many new users might assume that personal computers are just for browsing or collecting information..that's what I'm worried about. This situation might be causing "being part of the rumor/knowledge crowd more important than enjoying our machines and getting proficient on them." (from your comment to another post)

I believe that a computer should come with a easy-to-use tool to create something interactive (that's what makes a perosonal computer different from VTR, or Game consloles), and good examples to show the new users what computers can really do, without any extra cost.

If a computer is only for using the internet, I don't think it is a "personal computer" any longer. Any thoughts to that? Thank you very much for reading.

Woz:
I definitely like what you are saying. BASIC and Hypercard let us create and invent and build. One thing that is virtually constant among good computer people is that they had construction toys of some kind when young. It's a real shame that all you're expected to do is use other people's creations. it's like forcing you to sit and watch the [interesting] world go by, rather than living and being a part of making it.


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