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Letters-General Questions Answered  


Q From e-mail:
My husband and I watched the Pirates film, for the second time, today. Then I found your website. I'm working my way thru reading your comments, and I have a burning question-When you had the plane crash, and/or at any other time, have you experienced anything that goes beyond the Newtonian ideas of time and/or space? What I'm asking is- Have you ever had any kind of near-death experience? There are several reasons for my question- including the fact that the messages of the near death experience seem to be that our purposes here on Earth are to take care of each other and to learn. Your efforts in life seem to embody these goals.

As for Bill Gates and all his money-How much can one person spend in a lifetime?

Somewhere in our attic, we have our Apple II plus, stored away! Good luck to you in your future!

Yours is a very nice and polite note. I never had any kind of near-death experience. Once I thought I might be having a heart attack and was shaking in fear but it was just something like heartburn. I can see that a lot of people with such experiences would change their attitudes and approaches to life, but mine come from internally thinking deeply about such matters while walking home, day after day, from my last year of high school.

I had a Berkeley psychology professor who had such an experience. He fought off drowning but lost. He described feeling freed of worry. The panic went away. They obviously did recover him. I don't know if it changed his attitudes about what's important in life. He seemed to direct us toward thoughtful consideration of what statistics and research really were and what they weren't and how to be careful about how much we accepted at face value, and how we shouldn't try to exaggerate findings. What's real and what's not.

Q From e-mail:
i live at Reunion island a French overseas department in Indian Ocean, i don't see "pirates of silicon valley", but i am sure you are the best actor's in Computer's History. Thanks a lot for your ideas and your way of life : Apple // for ever ;-)

Your wording is actually kinda' humorous. I don't think of myself as an actor in that history, but at least a character.

Sometimes I wonder if I read how the press always describes me so that I'll know how I am or what I have to do to be that image! (Just a joke). Thanks.

Q From e-mail:
Allow me to state how envious I am of you and the other "pioneers" of personal computing. Although I'm fully into computers now, I was only about 8 years old when the Apple debuted. I've seen "Pirates of Silicon Valley" twice, and was engrossed by it each time. Do you think it will ever be available on tape?

I was also engrossed in "Pirates of Silicon Valley." At first I wasn't going to watch it because I've been bored by too many books and I just wind up hating how many things they get wrong. This time, a lot of scenes were far from reality, but the psychological factors and motivations were accurately portrayed. I hope that it's out on tape soon. Also DVD. I know of some people that copied it to Video CD for convenience.

Q From e-mail:
I seen that movie. Like seeing people make a difference. I seen you did with the Apple []. Back in that day that was the best computer of all times. But in the Mac. Why didn't you keep that Prompt like the apple 2 had I would have liked Apples computers more if that would have happened? I like the interface that it had from Xerox. I am making an OS to get back at Bill Gates. It's called Menu X. I hope and will try my hardest to make a difference in this world of computers like you did. "Woz is the KING of computers for ever.

Funny. I loved that accidental prompt but would hate it now. Your name "Menu X" sounds very funny. I'm hoping that you are one of the great successes. You seem abnormal enough to be great. Thank you very much,

Q from E-mail:
Woz, Did you feel wrong stealing outright from Xerox, and what did you think when Microsoft stole from Apple? Do you think Microsoft has a monopoly on the computer industry? Plan on going back to Apple? Also, can you point out more of the minor flaws in the movie? Thanks, David

Steve Jobs made the case to Xerox PARC execs directly that they had great technology but that Apple knew how to make it affordable enough to change the world. This was very open. In the end, Xerox got a large block of Apple stock for sharing the technology. That's not stealing outright. 

Apple didn't get any stock from Microsoft. Nor was Apple dealt with openly in this area by Microsoft. 

Microsoft has a monopoly, although I don't know if your phrase "on the computer" industry is appropriate to append. Only Microsoft could force its browser on the world without competing head on with Netscape, for example. In the anti-trust trial, people can see that Microsoft does its utmost to bend the definition of words here. 

I don't plan on going back to Apple as a regular employee. I have a nice life and am doing what I like. I'd have to give up an awful lot. I don't really have any indication that there is a place for me in Apple. 

"More" minor flaws. Well, I have CRS (Can't remember ****!) and, out of the hundreds of similar emails I've answered privately and publicly in the last couple of days, I don't know which minor flaws I did mention. Well, here goes, strictly from memory. This will not be complete. 

When John Sculley came to Apple, he didn't focus on Macintosh/Apple ][ rivalries. John did refocus the company away from the Apple /// and back towards the Apple ][. Few realize that, although the Apple ][ was the best-selling computer in the world from 1980 to 1983 (roughly), the company only promoted the Apple ///. Every full-page ad in Time Magazine in these years featured the Apple ///, which was barely selling. Every employee had an Apple /// on their desk. Everyone talked about the Apple /// exclusively. All the Apple ][ engineering projects had been killed. The outside world knew one great product, the Apple ][, but the company only tried to sell the Apple ///. 

There may have been personal reasons for Apple for being so out of touch with reality, even as it went public. We actually put extra chips in the Apple /// so that, in its Apple ][ mode, features like 80 columns and extra RAM were disabled. We put chips in to make it do less. That was for marketing reasons, to make sure that the world only thought of the Apple ][ as a game or hobby machine and the Apple /// as the business machine. 

I suspect that if you added up all the Apple employee salaries (except for the person that printed the Apple ][ price) you'd come up with something like $300M lost on the Apple ///, not the $60M the company claims. The Apple ][ was raking in the dough because so many other companies kept developing hardware and software for it. Don't mistake where all the Apple wealth was coming from. In this time period, the company was probably worth as much as it is now, at least in normalized dollar terms. 

Well, John came aboard and heard some discussion and immediately cut the Apple /// effort down and mandated that it pay its own way. Apple ][ efforts were revived and the Apple ][ GS was borne of this a couple of years later. 

I noticed that John and Steve were the tightest team you could ever imagine. John was the trusted CEO and Steve was feeding him info about the market, products, choices, options, technologies, etc. But it was very Macintosh-biased. Even after the Macintosh was introduced, the bread-winner of the company would be the Apple ][ for years, and it deserved some investment too. But possibly Steve saw it as confusing and messy competition for the Macintosh. These were just "vibes" that I felt. Well, at every show and every party and every meeting and every event, Steve and John were 6 inches apart and spoke identically and in harmony. Steve was the master, and John was tempering things appropriately for business credibility. 

But, after a year or so, I saw the two of them at a sales meeting in Hawaii, I think. The Macintosh hadn't taken over the world and had problems with business customers and our ill-fated "lemmings" commercial didn't deserve to be shown. It was the first time that I'd seen the two of them not together everywhere. Steve would be on one side of the room, and John on another. When they were together, they wouldn't excitedly support the other's statements. They wouldn't laugh at the same jokes, or at each other's jokes. Something had really changed. I wasn't inside enough to have seen this before. This is the time-frame of the party where it was difficult for John to toast Steve. 

Speaking of John Sculley, there was a time when a friend of mine, Dan Cochran, who worked at Apple, was asked by Steve to show former Governor Jerry Brown around Apple. The rumors were hot that our new CEO would be announced that same day. As employees saw "moonbeam" Jerry Brown being escorted, their jaws dropped. You couldn't have planned a better prank. 

I recall the dinner at the Fairmont, or at least one very similar dinner. If anyone asked me to toast anybody I certainly would have turned it down. I wouldn't know how to toast somebody, even today. I definitely do recall that there were formal dinners where I skipped eating and stopped at Denny's on the way home instead. I have no idea where the producers got that from, but that part was right on the money. 

Q from E-mail:
I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the movie and was interested to see some of the twists and turns of the new computer era. I have read through your comments section and you seem to be as nice and caring as you were depicted in the movie. I had one question that I am not sure if you can help me with. Near the end of the movie they depicted a scene at Steve Jobs' 30th Birthday Party. They were trying to find someone to toast him. John Scully had made a comment that he couldn't because "Steve thinks I'm his ... ." It was never completed. Did Steve think that John Scully was his biological father or was this just something thrown in for dramatic effect? 

I'm not sure that there's any deeper meaning than that Steve felt that John was going to replace him or keep him secondary, like John is his inner devil.

to questions about "Pirates of Silicon Valley"

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