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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Q From e-mail:
Steve, I'm sure you are flooded with mail and I am impressed by the fact that you keep yourself available to the world. I saw Pirates, but that is not what this about. It made me think about my roots. I am not very old and yet I am doing very well for myself. At 24 years old I am self sustaining and making a great deal of money for myself despite my age.

You see, My parents bought an Apple //c and couldn't use it, they just didn't have the mental resources, ( no pun intended ), but I took to it right away. This led to my after school responsibility in high school. I was from the city and moved to the country in Mt. Angel, Oregon to live with my mother. Country "folk" don't like City "folk" so the computer lab was my sanctuary. I was responsible for formatting and reloading the external hard drives as they were destroyed by students, as well as maintaining student file databases. I then bought an Apple //gs which I still have with a monitor, 5 1/4 Drive and 3 inch drive, in the closet. My senior project was writhing a voice synthesizer in assembly, ( I used the cassette Input for sound in ). I had completed my senior project my sophomore year. Some time later the Computer lab was converted to a Macintosh SE level. I again was placed in charge of maintaining the lab.

moving along & jumping ahead.

I had later become responsible of a virtual reality arcade. I was the General Manager and Head Technician. I was responsible for maintaining and repairing the systems as necessary. They were built by a company in England called Virtuality. they ran on a Amega by Commodore and really wasn't bad even for today. they later designed a faster model using a 486 PC but they removed the stereo scopic vision for mono scopic, ( a great mistake if you ask me). My ability to repair them came from maintaining the Apple series as well as the Macs at school.

One more Leap ahead.

After starving from my minimum wage and trying to live in Phoenix, Arizona I had to move on and eventually found the job I have now, I'm sure you know the story, right place right time. I now Work for a Company called Convergent Energy out of Sturbridge Massachusetts. I still live in Phoenix, but I travel all over the country repairing lasers built by our company.

During my trips to Silicon Valley I find myself compelled to visit the Apple Campus but I never seen to find the time to go. Do they have Tours?

I still spend my weekends building various Circuits and writing Various programs in C, as I enjoy spending my free time doing so. But I have realized that my ambition for technology stems from a dream you had many years ago. I admit that I am deeply saddened my Apple's current status, and I can only imagine the awesome Power Apple might still be. I hope you will be involved in that event. I also hope to take a roll in that scene.

I have taken enough of your time but I have two gifts for you. The first is a 3D model of the iMac. I have sent one to Steve Jobs also thanking him for my situation. The other is a program I am working on, I do ask that you not share it with others. I am trying to write a 3D based application and I have only started on the render and have a long way to go.

I thank you for your time P.S. Once the application is started press the mouse key to quit.

WOZ:
I'm being inundated by incredible stories.

The app you sent didn't run on my PowerBook, but it says a lot that you are working in this 3D direction all on your own for your own reasons. The rewards, now, are inside your own head. This is always the greatest motivation.

Q From e-mail:
What exactly does this do, I have an apple II C and i did this after reading it in one of your comments of "Pirates". No detailed information needed just why it's there. Thanks,

WOZ:
On the Apple ][, it invoked the keyboard 'monitor' program from BASIC. From the keyboard monitor program you could enter things in memory and look at memory and do other things. It was a place that you could learn more about the lower levels of the computer.

The Apple I only had this monitor program at first. Then I wrote BASIC and designed a card to read and write casette tapes on home recorders, in order to read BASIC and read or write any programs you wrote, as well as the data they created. The Apple ][ had BASIC built in, in ROM, for the first time. But we still weren't so far along that you didn't need to get back to the geeky stuff, the -151 stuff, for certain things.

Q From e-mail:
I understand how Apple was portrayed in "Pirates". Apple was great at the outset and became divisive. Do you attribute Apple's inability to be current dominant OS on the desktop today to Apple's internal struggles, Apple's unwillingness to do what Microsoft did in distributing the OS to clones, or Microsoft's aggressive tactics? Please elaborate.

WOZ:
I elaborated extensively on an earlier email today. Let's hope that it gets posted on my web page(I don't choose these, I just answer)

Q From e-mail:
Do you, at least, acknowledge that eventhough Microsoft is currently the dominant player, they can be displaced as they claim due to the fast changing pace of technology?

WOZ:
Sounds like you partially answered your own question. My feeling is that, despite things changing fast, the world is continuing to grow it's reliance on these computers and Microsoft still has a great ways to go up. For them to be displaced might take a long time due to how influencial they are, and some revolutionary products that are vastly superior. But none of us can see such revolutionary things, or we'd all be vastly rich.

Q From e-mail:
Dear Mr. Woz;I just saw Pirates of silicon valley and enjoyed it. Especially the way they had you in a way narrating it.I just have two questions. After reading some of your comments about this movie I get the feeling you like to avoid the question how you feel about the new Apple-Microsoft deal. I noticed in the beginning of the movie they had you saying it gave you a eerie feeling about seeing Bill Gates on the screen at MacWorld. Was that true and was it about the deal as well? My second question is were you involved with the first meeting of Microsoft at Apple before the Mac came out?Thank you for reading this email.Christopher Healey

WOZ:
I think that the Apple-Microsoft deal was artificial and mostly in words. I don't think that Microsoft is saying let's help Apple, nor is Apple saying that Microsoft is great. I think it's Steve Jobs' own feelings of the way he wanted Apple and Microsoft presented. Apple needed money and we were accusing Microsoft of $MMM ($B?) of copyright and patent infringements. Microsoft didn't want to admit anything and looked for cheap, penny- and dime-on-the-dollar ways out. The way it worked, Microsoft wasn't out any money if they gave Apple $125 M for $125M of stock. By the way, this stock was manufactured for this purpose, diluting all the existing shareholders. So they wound up paying the $125M back to Apple, in effect providing the stock to Microsoft. It was a very shrewdly constructed deal that was financially very good for Apple. The portrayal of Bill Gates was to help get confidence back into Apple as an ongoing company.

Q From e-mail:
Hi, my name is Franklin and I saw the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley a couple of times. I love history and that's the reason why I watched the movie, to understand a bit more about the world we live in today, driven by the technology and the computer industry. I have two questions for you Mr. Woz:
1) Did Bill Gates really made his fortune out of stealing people ideas and work as it is shown in the movie?
2) Could you recommend me a book that tells the story as it really happens?

WOZ:
Bill Gates at least started out as a young engineer. I'm presuming that he actually wrote some of the BASIC with Paul Allen. But from then on, I have trouble identifying if he ever designed again, himself.

His mother was on a board with an IBM executive and found out that they were going to build a computer to compete with Apple and that they needed an OS. He then found the OS in Seattle, as is shown in the movie. I believe that most of Microsoft's products from then on came about this way. At least, that's what I've been told.

I grew up thinking that engineers were the purest people that there were and that they could never steal or copy. Even when we started Apple I believed this. I have learned differently.

If you liked the movie and it's early day touch, you might enjoy the book "Hackers" by Steven Levy. I find it more entertaining than any other book about computer designers.

 


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