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Letters-General Questions Answered  



Q From e-mail:
I know you have spoken about the blue box to quite an extent. I know for a fact that it does stilwork on certain phones, ie. ones with out the volume control button. I have seen it work 6 years ago, and I know a guy who called me up using it. It's rather interesting to hear the computer operator say Thank You for Using AT&T. However, I'm not sure if you made it aware to people on here that it is both a felony to make a blue box and a felony to use one. I'm not saying that the law is right or wrong. I'm just giving the facts, and that people should probably not be all that open or at least be careful about using these things. Felonies are not something you want on your record. Anyway, today's blue boxes can be made with the 6.5536 mhz radio crystal I believe and a radio shack tone dialer. You merely substitute the existing radio crystal with the new one by some soldering and alterations to the the little box. I thought I'd share that. Post and edit as necessary. Keep up the good work.*

Good comments. The best guide is that you probably won't get off lightly if caught, and it's not guaranteed safe anywhere. I've heard of people being caught one week after a random person mentioned that new equipment was going in which would detect blue boxes.

Q From e-mail:
There's some thought provoking stuff here on your site, but living in the UK, where we don't get free local calls it kinda gets a bit heavy on the phone bill staying on line and reading, so i had a thought and you can poo poo this if you want, but how about a plain text version of all the comments that can be printed out, a terrible waste of trees i know, but then i could show some of this stuff to people without Internet Connection's, which is most of the people over here.

I love the website, keep up the good work and all the best for the future, Budgester

P.S. I'm now working in computers primarily because my dad (an engineer) bought a VIC 20 when i was about 9 and we spent a lot of time together messing around with it.

I printed out most of the notes that I posted and it's a very thick stack and not suitable for copying and mailing. When I catch up, I'll look into organizing the web pages so as to make it easier to find the most recent comments.

Q From e-mail:
I was in Barnes & Noble last night and stumbled onto a book by Gil Amelio which detailed his "500 days at Apple." I think his book was called "On the Firing Line." Anyway, given my interest in reading your comments in the wake of "Pirates," I looked up references to you. In one, he recounts your explanation of the Woz/Jobs friendship rift. He asserts that you told him that way back in the 70s, before the Apple I, you were working on something for Atari with Jobs. You did all of the work, and you and Jobs were supposed to get $1000. When you produced the product, Jobs gave it to Atari and came back to you with $300, saying all he got from them was $600. You didn't find out until the mid-eighties thatJobs actually did get $1000, and he ripped you off. Can you confirm this story?

I don't like to stir up old things that carry a negative note, but Steve was actually paid more like $3000 or $5000 or something. Nolan Bushnell, who paid him, gave the amount in a recent book, "Silicon Valley Guys." I was actually sort of thankful that Gil got it wrong, because it didn't sound as attrocious as it really was. 

To clarify, this happened before Apple, when Steve and I were best friends with little to our names. Steve said we'd split it 50/50. If he'd just said that I could have $50 for doing it I would have done it anyway for the fun and honor of designing an arcade game. 

You can see why I cried deeply when I found out the truth. I get hurt and cry very easily when people don't treat others well, or when the "right" thing isn't happening. Also, Steve doesn't remember the incident this way, so consider another possibility: that those saying the payment was large could be remembering it incorrectly. This is old stuff, and it's best not to use it as an indicator of Steve today.

Q from E-mail:
Gil Amelio also says in his book, that Jobs did not like you coming back to Apple even as an unpaid consultant, and that at a public event, Jobs wouldn't even be on the same stage as you. If these comments about Jobs are true, I think you are treating him with kid gloves in the responses on your Web site concerning his character.

My brief appearance at Apple was more honorary than anything else. Steve probably didn't feel that I had valuable things to contribute in a "working" sense and that the honorary welcome was inappropriate. Just nuts-and-bolts business.

I know that some others felt that my presence had some merit. My own feeling is that I didn't interfere with anyone and that my slight presence did have some value, partly because it symbolized the specialness of this company. 

I don't worry about who I'm on a stage with but I could see reasons why Steve might care more about public things being done properly. In many cases, my presence might be a distraction from him or the business at hand. 

I am extremely honest in answers to questions. That's why I avoid the press and questions and would also be a problem in running a corporation. I avoid personal conflicts and I avoid attacking people's characters. Why should I bring turmoil into my happy life?

Q from E-mail:
I've been meditating on the movie. My question is, did you give the best demo to your employers who had the non-competition agreement (offering them first ownership onanything you created). Ordid you deliberately blunder the demo in hopes they wouldn't see it? 

I didn't want to start Apple. I loved Hewlett Packard and my job there. I tried my hardest to get them to go this way. A couple of my immediate bosses were very supportive in this. The lab manager was three levels above me. He was not pooh-poohing the market, as the movie shows. He was very much swayed. It's just that the early computer wasn't complete and finished enough to be a true Hewlett Packard-quality product.

At the time, I would much rather have had this project at HP than start Apple to do it. I'm sorry in one sense that they didn't go for it. I had a sort of shyness or anxiety disorder that wouldn't have let me dare risk anything akin to engineering piracy (from HP in this case).

to questions about "Pirates of Silicon Valley"

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