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Letters-General Questions Answered  



Q From e-mail:
Dear Mr. Wozniak, Please read this all the way through. With an attitude significantly less reverent or even appreciative than that of your apparently plentiful devotees, I must contribute to your mailbox my belief that you are not the "great man" that virtually every one of the letters posted on your website claims you are, but rather a complete egomaniac.

I can see that things look this way and I'm sure that many feel as you do. But I assure you that there are reasons and that your opinions are wrong. I did have some great ideas and design talents that led to the early Apple computers and the company, but I am not an egomaniac. For 25 years I have not once called the press or tried to get any press attention except for a remote control product of mine around 1988 and to publicize, unsuccessfully, the first space bridge between the United States and the U.S.S.R., around 1983. I have done an excellent job of being a recluse. I turn down perhaps 10 requests for appearances a week from organizations and museums and computer groups and the press, only accepting one or two. I try to answer almost 100% of personal email and phone calls, as I have been doing ever since the "Pirates" movie was shown...Steve

Q From e-mail:
The "Pirates" movie flatters you, to be sure. I admired the Wozniak character in the movie so much that I came onto my computer directly after seeing it an searched for "Steve Wozniak" on Yahoo! I was surprised to find that you had actually created a website, all about yourself. I was disappointed to find that it was merely a receptacle for a great deal of self-aggrandizement and hero worship from legions of, pardon me, computer nerds whose "lives have been given direction" by one of your computers. I am also into computers, despite the fact that I don't know any programming languages, and, unlike you, did not "single-handedly" invent the "first-ever" keyboard-driven computer ever, nor have I ever created something with "DRAM capability".

I consider the "Pirates" movie to be flattering to me. It protrays me as I am and as I would want to be portrayed. Many, including myself, could add dozens of very strong references to these sorts of things that I've done. But the producers didn't talk to me. I even had a phone number to call but didn't. I don't like to talk to the press or media.

I'm glad that you found my web site. I don't try to promote it, but I'm proud of the WozCam, a live camera that has been on my office desk for years, that a viewer can control from their browser. I'm not sure it's working right now. My web site is loosely updated every few years and only if some friends offer. I didn't put any of it together due to lack of time, but I certainly could have. It would have been the same. If you'd clicked on "webmaster" you'd have gotten one of 4 people. I have dozens of emails that tell me how weak and outdated my site is. Al Luckow, a friend, came by a week or so ago and said that he had time to update it a bit. It was his suggestion to include some of my answers to the immense email I'm getting, to give people interesting answers about the movie. I hope that people read them and don't email me the same questions.

On the subject of my web site, it's my own and I set it up myself. It's not a company and I don't have a staff set it up, other than the woz.org web pages. I choose network equipment and order it and install it in racks and hook it up. I program the routers and hubs and servers and set them up. I get the various internet domains from INTERNIC and I install the DNS servers to handle them. I install the email servers and enter every account. I enter all the accounts for people that dial in to me also. I order T1 lines from Pac Bell Internet and I install and test and watch them, many of them. I purchase RF links from NAS and, although they mount the antennas, I set up all the data settings and keep them running and detect problems and reset them if needed. I do this for my home and office and the local public schools and a Catholic school and the town library and a convent and more. I don't get paid anything for all this. I could go on and on. I run the network management software and keep things working, as well as many many computers in my home and classes. Of all the people in the movie, who else is like this?

Some people would say that I was represented as a jerk in the movie because I wasn't motivated by making money. There are different kinds of people. But the movie just touches on the depth of my character. I wish I could lay low and have my technical fun and play games and that movies like this were never made, or at least left me out. I wish I wasn't in "Pirates". But I'm glad that it portrayed me correctly...Steve

Q From e-mail:
You've only included the letters that praise you, not only as a programmer, but as a person. You haven't shown the slightest bit of modesty in your responses to these letters, letting everyone know, without any doubt, what a great, morally upstanding human being you are. You even have a hyperlink that reads something like "what, specifically, are my greatest contributions?" One would think that such a wealthy and outwardly successful man would not be so insecure as to have to prove time and time again to the world what a fantastic person he is.

Over all time, I don't mind if I'm not credited with Apple's business success. But I do not want people to think that I wasn't the sole designer of the early computers, nor do I want them to miss my different approaches to these early computers. I was glad for a chance to explain all this to people that asked direct questions. I didn't approach anybody or call any reporters. After that movie, there would be 20 reporters here in an instant if I wanted. My friend Al has access to my answers and has posted some of them. I have no idea which ones or how many. I don't have time to check as the email is stacked up dozens deep. I'm being polite and answering all of them myself so far. If I get sick for a week, possibly 1000 emails will go unanswered, but for now I'm answering all of them myself

Q From e-mail:
I pity your students. I know that had I had to listen to the rantings and self-promotions of a teacher such as yourself, I would have given up on school and education (not to mention computers) so long ago. As a result, I would have to encourage you, unlike so many of your fans, to try to conceal your personality from your students; maybe you aren't as good a role model as you think you are.

My former students would have the opposite opinion. All they'd say is that Steve plays jokes every class and makes it very interesting, more like a camp. Fortunately, I never force them to attend class, it's voluntary. They'd have one very negative thing to echo: that Steve isn't here for us enough because of all his obligations. Like answering email all day.

Q From e-mail:
Please feel obligated to respond to this letter. I know that you are a multi-(billionaire? or millionaire?), and that is all the more reason that you should feel the need to confront a challenge such as this. After all, you take the time to acknowledge all the glowing emails.

Much lower $$ than you'd think. I've given to a lot of good causes. Or is this not modest enough to say? By the way, I've been answering this email all the way through, and just now read it as a challenge. Even though it's long, it was important for me to try to answer, and I hope that Al posts it. I had only one other one that might have been considered negative and I'm not sure whether it got posted...


to questions about "Pirates of Silicon Valley"

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