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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Q From e-mail:
Hi Woz! I've been an Apple // user since 1979 (grade 4!) and have always thought that it was one of the cleanest designs I have ever seen. I own several Apples (every Apple // model (all in working condition), an Apple ///, a dead Lisa, and a Mac LC 520). They've all been excellent.

First of all, let me say that I thought the movie was a mess. Basically tabloid fodder. They were far more interested in talking about Steve Jobs and his dark side than showing what I believe most people wanted to see: early Apple history.

They could have done a better job at showing Jobs' better side. After all, if he wasn't a likeable fellow somehow, why did you hang out with him? They didn't show any chemistry between your character and his. We didn't know why you didn't tell him to shove off in the first five minutes.

Sure, personalities have to mix into this. Otherwise it would be a documentary. But I thought it would have been way more interesting to see the struggles over the engineering process behind the computers, how Apple responded to other competitors (Atari and Commodore, for instance), and some of the tomfoolery that undoubtedly happened from working long hours. I could care less about what an acid trip was like for Steve.

Never mind the politics. Didn't other inconsistencies bother you? For instance, it drove me nuts when they were showing the Computer Faire and they were setting up Apple ]['s with Apple //e monitors running at 80 columns. That's like making a movie about the 50's where the cars in the background are from the 60's. Sloppy. And what was the game they were running on it? Sure didn't look like Breakout to me.

I think they had enough "real" material at their disposal that they could have almost made a miniseries. I hated the way that they jumped years at a time, and didn't explain the passage of time. I would love to have seen the development of the Apple /// (and subsequent failure), and I would have *flipped* over seeing the development of the Apple //x project. BTW, do you know of any stories/insider articles about the //x-//gs project?

Sorry for the long letter. Hopefully some day Hollywood will do justice to your story.

P.S.: I was a Mac technician for a while a few years ago, and had access to the Apple technical videos. I subsequently got back into sales, and I still show the tape you starred in regarding ESD and RAM to the new sales guys. They sure know how to handle RAM properly after that. I think it put the fear of God into them or something.

WOZ:
You sure have a lot of opinions. I hadn't caught the things that you did, like the 80 columns. A miniseries would please you but would it please others that don't know so much about the sequence of things as you do? I don't know. Steve and I were always different but we got on very well in the pre-Apple times, even enjoying the same music (Dylan).

I'd have lots to say but hundreds of emails are stacked up right now,

Q From e-mail:
I just watched Pirates of Silicon Valley last night, and I was AMAZED. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs seem utterly disgusting in their own rights. I guess it's the fact that their talents seem to be in "sales and marketing", not really CREATION. That in itself is not a disgrace; it can be quite a gift. But they seem like such thieves. TRAMPS. They seem to take what is the property of others and market it as if it were their own. Very egocentric and power hungry fellows, it would seem.

I was impressed with your INTEGRITY. You genuinely seem to care about HELPING people with your developments. You seem to be a humanitarian with a mind most of us can only dream of having. Heady with heart, I guess that would be. And sane.

Just wanted to say thanks for your impressive contributions to the world as a whole!

WOZ:
The integrity always came first for me. Here's an interesting example. When we started a real company to sell the Apple ][, TV's didn't have video in connectors. There were no VCR's yet, either. We needed a modulator to put our video signal on a TV transmitter and into the antenna. I wouldn't allow Apple to sell one. Even though there were no laws about such tiny transmitters (modulators), I'd been a ham radio operator going back to 6th grade. We were unofficial protectors of the airwaves and we stood for the airwaves being free and only used in good ways. It was a major sin for us when bad signals caused radios and the like not to work. So I couldn't be a part of making a tiny 'transmitter'. Another company had to make these.

Q From e-mail:
Hi Woz. Remember the Baby I computer ? We were working on it here in New Hampshire at the same time you were working on the Apple][. The Baby was similar to the Apple ][ because it also used a 6502, had video output and a keyboard integrated into the case. It was small enough to fit into a briefcase. Our company was showing it at the same computer show that you were introducing the Apple ][. I was not there, but one of the guys from our company said that someone had come over from the Apple booth and made the comment that you would "bury" us. Well, we only made 10 of them, but it was a lot of fun being part of the early days. I was the software guy, working on the disk software part-time. Sometime ago I was going to send you one of the remaining Baby 1's with a shovel, (with a note to "please bury this") as a joke. But I didn't. Now that I know more about you, I know that you would have thought it was a pretty good joke.

WOZ:
I remember the Baby. I recall that you guys were out of MIT. I may have heard this from my friend, Allen Baum, who went there. I wouldn't tell somebody "we're going to bury you", especially back in my days of extreme shyness. It sounds like Steve Jobs. We didn't take the Baby very seriously because of the construction complexities of just the breadboards. I'm glad to hear from somebody back in those days. All of us with our little companies were so much the same, so pure compared with the business now.

Q From e-mail:
One of the things I have always wanted to tell you is that I really appreciated the design you did with the disk controller and the serial card. It was amazing because there were few chips on the board. I disassembled the rom on each board, and saw that you really accomplished an integration of using software to replace chip functions in the cleverest way that I have ever seen.

WOZ:
That's what I like to hear. I even layout out the PC board myself. After a few nights, I was almost done. But I realized that I could have 5 crossevers instead of 8 crossovers on the 2-sided PC board if I redesigned the circuit to make the shift register shift the opposite way. So I changed the design and the PC board layout, something two independent people couldn't have done. A goo example of multiple disciplines interacting. thanks.

Q From e-mail:
One last thing, my son was also heavily influenced by the Apple ][. He went on to get a C.S degree and was one of the original guys who started The Palace http://www.thepalace.com/ . If you haven't seen it, it is like living on the Internet in an interactive cartoon. He was the one who emailed me your site URL.

WOZ:
I saw it, it was great...Steve

 


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