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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.