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Comment from E-mail:
Woz, you changed my life.
I have a number of motor, cognitive, and learning disorders.
Growing up, I wanted to be an astronomer, physicist, or automotive engineer.
Long before I was old enough to go to college I realized I could not go into a technical field. My handwriting was so bad *I* couldn't even read it. And worse, though I became proficient with a slipstick, I seemed to be unable to find the correct place to put the decimal point.

The truth was, I couldn't even make it through college. I enrolled in, and flunked out of SF State at 17. I realized I was a loser. I ended up traveling all over the country working as an iron worker or a trucker.

I missed things about school. I really missed the fun of figuring out things more complex than how to avoid death, dismemberment, or truck scales. I also missed helping people.

By the time I was 39 I landed a job as a bid estimator. I was up against my old problem again--my inadequate math and handwriting abilities (the skills were there, I just couldn't execute!).

It was 1989. I decided I needed a computer. I had to decide which computer to buy. I had to learn how to use the thing and make it work for me within weeks. I asked an elementary school teacher friend of mine for advice. He said buy an Apple ][.

I bought a 5 or 6 year old used ][e for $500. I learned AppleWorks. I started using Quicken.
I realized that this computer thing changes everything. With my "new" computer, my "old problem" was geography (it was gone).

At 40 I went back to college. I earned a BS in accounting (OK, chalk one up to lowered expectations here). I passed the CPA exam. Now, at age 49 I am a senior analyst (I figure out complex stuff!) in a public employee's retirement system (I get to help people). These are all very good things for me and my family.

Woz, your role in my life is clear. I guarantee none of these good things would have happened if someone had not designed a cheap computer with a keyboard and a monitor in the 1970's (If you had waited until the 1980's, how could I have found a 6 year old used computer in 1989 for $500 as good as the ][e?).

Even if I had chosen an IBM XT instead of a ][e for my first computer and had actually been able to get some results out of it within a few weeks, you would still be responsible.

This is the best such story that I've ever heard. I have seen and taught and hired (for my teaching) many learning disabled people that can do amazing things with the computers. Also, the one year that the teachers of the local 5th grade class told me the students were mentally behind and slow, was the most outstanding year for my computer instruction. I'm not just saying this, many many other teachers have seen the same thing with computers in schools.

I have to say that it was just luck that I saw a low cost computer in the keyboard-display paradigm. It was more of building a computer into a TV terminal than of including a TV Terminal in a computer, based on what I'd built just before the Apple I. To be honest, the rest of the world might have figured this out in a lot less time than you're suggesting. But my motivations were to make a usable product for the simplest user at the lowest cost, and that included you. I had to think of what I wanted for myself and keep my head vacant of what a computer was and looked like and how you made it usable. I did that and went for it in the Apple I. The Apple ][ was merely the chance to add to that concept with some great features and good engineering, at very low cost. It was still aimed at normal people, whereas computers before it were primarily targeted at business clients with lots of money.

Again, your story is so good that it makes my eyes water. I hope that many hear it.

Comment from E-mail:
I saw the A&E biography about you a few nights ago and came away with a greater understanding about what great hardware the Apple is. Until I saw the show I hadn't realized that your Apple Basic was revolutionary as well. Good to know.

You might get a kick out of this: My wife asked our 10 year old step-grandson Marty, what he wanted for Christmas. Marty said he wanted to put together an Apple ][+ out of the boxes of manuals, controllers, drives, cards, etc, and 4 working ][+'s I bought a couple of years ago for $20 at a garage sale in Pacifica. BTW, we've already given him and his brother a hopped up 030 SE, and a 660av. And his family has a 586.

He just wants to tinker with the hardware, and he loves Apple Basic, especially its graphics.

Marty taught himself Apple Basic at age 6 after watching my (then) 10 year old son program on my old ][e.

They've both gone on to script in Hypercard, Java, C++, and Director, but they still love to do stuff in Apple Basic.

FYI, this year Marty will get his ][+, the run of the hardware archive, and a monitor (I've had to buy that). We may have a problem fitting it all under the tree!

Guess those ][+'s are computers for the rest of the rest of us!
The best to you and yours.

I don't know if I even posted your original story on my web page. It's great inspiration for the countless ones that feel that they can't do things well. But now I'm totally the luckiest person in the world to receive such a great story as this one about your sons. They are so lucky. If I were a kid I'd love to be yours. You followed the machine and software paths that I considered most useful and motivational for my early classes, when I had the time to do a really good job.

You and your kids represent the people that I tried to design computers for, so it's good to get positive feedback like this, even 25 years later.

Comment from E-mail:
Hi Steve, I am a sixty-seven year old cancer survivor who is very new to the computer world....I would like to sell merchandise on the Internet, but get so confused when I read ebay or yahoo instructions. Do you have an earsier way for me to understand these new fangled machines without being a Rocket Scientiest? For example if I want to sell a pair of ear rings, there are probably five thousand ear rings for sale...if I want to be more prodominately displayed, I think I have to pay $100.00. Help, I don't qualifiy for medicade and I need to supplement my income. This seems like a good idea and won't have to work out side my home. Thanks for any advice you may have! You seem like such a nice guy! Thanks for your contribution to making our world a better place! Best Regards, Pam W.
I have never had the time to try to sell anything online but I hear that you can sell anything of any value on eBay. I've just never used it or yahoo and certainly would have to turn away if the instructions took even a few minutes of my time. Sorry. I'm also sorry that humans that prepare instructions and displays don't often make them understandable by normal people. That's one of the dreams of the early Macintosh computer that's been lost. I hope that we look back and get some good humanistic sense and understanding some day. I hope for a renaissance for computer software and web sites. But it won't happen just because it's better and needed. There has to eventually be some financial reason.

Comment from E-mail:
Dear Mr. Wozniak, all you had to say was that you could not help,you didn't have to say "ok a size tv, that didn't make any sense to me,was it because you were upset with a & e television, I thought you were a humanitarian. You really hurt my feelings when all I was looking to you for was advice. I lost my wife from childhood problems and her body just wearing out, thought you would understand.Someone must have hurt you deeply to be so cruel. I guess size tv must means for me to by a smaller tv and not believe what is on television. I'm not an intelligent person,but I hurt the same. I still wish you a wonderful holiday,sorry that you are so bitter. Craig D.
Sorry for the misunderstanding. Here was my REPLY TO THE ABOVE E-MAIL:

"I read this and it's certainly very interesting but I can't help in any way."

That was accurate and seems polite enough to me. Now, here was my SIGNATURE after that reply:
Steve Wozniak (OK, a new size TV) http://woz.org

"ok a new size tv" is an anagram of my name. The signature part of an email 'belongs' to the sender, not the receiver. It's part of every email that I used to send. It's the very last line of the entire email, so there should be little confusion that it's part of the signature line. I've changed it for now to be less confusing for you and others.


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