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Letters-General Questions Answered  



Q From e-mail:
I really admire all you have done for the world of computers, education, and the arts. What would you say about having another US festival in the future? I was too young to attend the first ones. I really think it would be wonderful for older and newer generations. It would be great for a time when our country sure could use it. So can you seriously consider having another festival? Pleease!

I wish I could. They were so fabulous. If I'd made money, maybe they'd have been disasters.

Q From e-mail:
Thanks for the greatest tool this century. You are a prince of a fellow. I am the VP of The Panhandle (Fla) Mac User Group, and need a different kind of tool. What book(s) written about Apple are the most accurate according to you? Do you know of any source materials that compare the specifics of MacOS and windows? Showing the differences in performing the same tasks. I constantly talk with folks who don't understand the Mac, and they think their pc is the best...just because. Pc's are fast enough, cheap, and everybody knows them and has them, so why would they want a Mac-they say. I use both platforms, and can feel the differences, but don't know the pc very well, and get very frustrated quickly on it, so I am moving them out of my life, and getting more Mac's. But I can't put my finger on the everyday benefits. Thanks again for your contribution to the betterment of the world, with the computer and maybe even more, your ongoing commitment to children. Martin Simmons

Your feelings about PC's match those of everyone I know. I can't put my finger on the benefits either. But it's like art, that involve feelings. You can describe a painting to me all day but I won't know if I like it until I see it. The same for a song. You can't put it in words.

Q From e-mail:
Make no mistake about it, you are a hero. You are so generous it makes me want to do more. You are the one who started the computer revolution. All the credit should go to you. Good luck in the future. David

Thanks. I can't believe how many people say the same things. "All the credit" should actually not go to one person, when there are others that are very important too.

Q From e-mail:
Woz, I read through the comments and found them fascinating. My questions are more philosophical: When you designed the first personal computer, did you ever envision anything as capable as what we have today? And- with processing power getting so cheap, does the "bloat" of features, and software scare you. You always seemed to be concerned with design elegance- (and since you like the iMac, probably still do) do you see hope for some watershed event simplifying computer use? If you hadn't designed the Apple 1, do you think someone else would have? Are there any products that have been invented since that you think are as important? Thanks for taking time to answer these questions.

When I designed these products I probably thought that machines would max out at around 64 KB of RAM and that they'd get cheaper with the passing of time. Well, they got much cheaper AND look how far the RAM goes. I had no vision in my head of hard disks, or gigabytes, or of 333 MHz, etc.

I think that the LSI approach, with all the messy circuitry packed on a chip, gives cleaner, simpler designs to the user. If I were the designer of such a chip, it would be important to me to have a clean, simple design inside. That would be a pact with myself.

Q From e-mail:
I was quite surprised to see "you" as the narrator. I would be extremely upset if someone pretended to tell my story without my >permission. Did they "put any words in your mouth" that you disagree with?

I was the most surprised of all. I figured that they'd skip over me as so often happens. The narrator role was perfect. I felt that the actor playing me was very accurate in his representations and his word choices. Actually, I was shocked that it could be done so well. And Noah Wyle did even better with Steve Jobs.

Q From e-mail:
I've been watching 'Pirates Of Silicon Valley' a lot and I was just wondering what that gadget was that you had where you shined it on the television or something and it would go fuzzy, and then that guy would get up and try to readjust it, but when he got there, you stoped shining it and then the picture would come back into clarity. What was that and how did it work?

In college, I built small TV jammers. I'd go to the one dorm that had a color TV, sit in the back, in the dark, and tune in my jammer. The screen got messed up, not totally but enough to bother everyone. Without any plan, a friend in the front row, who knew what was going on (I hope he did) whacked the TV. I instantly turned the jammer off and the TV worked fine.

For weeks I would occassionally turn the jammer on. It took more and more students turning more and more dials on the color TV until it would finally work. One time I actually was one of the ones adjusting the fine tuning control and all, operating the jammer in my other hand. I never got caught.

One evening, about three people were whacking and adjusting the TV from all sides. I noticed that one of them had his hand on the screen, so I turned the jammer off. As they breathed a sigh of relief, the hand came off the screen and I turned the jammer back on. One of them said "freeze, where were your bodies" because by this time they all knew that it could sometimes have something to do with where your body was. Eventually the one guy reached out to the screen again and I turned off the jammer. He figured it out and started testing, hand on, hand off, hand on again. I kept pace. Then this guy put his foot down from the chair it was in (he was standing) and I made the TV go bad again. He picked up his foot and it went good. He announced that it was some sort of 'grounding' effect and left his foot in the air (on the chair) and his hand on the middle of the screen for the last 30 minutes of a "Mission Impossible" show.

On another occassion, when the TV went bad, one guy said that the repairman had made a point about it being an antenna problem. To test this, he held up the older style, twin lead, antenna wire and the TV cleared up. He put the wire down and the jamming started. After a while, the TV went bad even as he held the antenna wire off the ground. So he raised it higher with success. Later it went bad again and he climbed up on a chair to get the TV working. Then he had to stand on the chair with the antenna held above his head. For my final feat, I only let the TV work when he stood on his tiptoes on this chair.

That's a true story and there is even more of this TV Jammer for my own book someday.

I remember my first remote control watch. I could turn off TV's in stores and other places all the time, very discretely. My sons loved these.

Nowdays I often use lasers to play tricks. They have to be extremely good tricks to be worth doing now. For example, my green lasers are 'different'. In the earliest days of laser pointers, when they cost hundreds of dollars, I was the only one using them for tricks. Nobody knew what that little red light was. I also like, to this day, showing people how I can point the laser in one ear and have it come out the other and shine on the wall. I use a second laser in my other hand, out of sight, or a friend does the second laser. I get people with this all the time. It's particularly effective after telling them that the lasers are used to sterilize cattle and remove tattoos. Sometimes they borrow the laser to show another friend how it can go through their head. When they shine it in one ear, we shine a second laser on the wall about where it would go through. I love to get people on this one too. Sometimes I explain some BS about polarization and shine a red laser into my ear and it comes out green.

These laser tricks could explain why the movie kind of mixed lasers with TV jammer circuitry.

to questions about "Pirates of Silicon Valley"

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