Daniel Kottke, Apple employee #12, on Steve Jobs, Woz, and more

“Daniel Kottke was one of Apple’s first employees, assembling the company’s earliest kit computers with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in a California kitchen. In 1974, Jobs and Kottke backpacked across India in search of themselves; now, they are industry legends. Along the way, he debugged circuit boards, helped design the Apple III and the Mac, and became host of Palo Alto cable TV show The Next Step,” Avi Solomon reports for BoingBoing.

Avi: What was Steve Job’s unique contribution to Apple?

Daniel: Between Woz and Jobs, Woz was the innovator, the inventor. Steve Jobs was the marketing person. But, even to look back at the Apple ][ that was a lot about product design. That was kind of the seeds of Steve Jobs developing his design talents with the lightweight plastic case, even though it was never intended as anything portable… how fortunate for Steve that he had Jonathan Ive. Jonathan Ive was already on the staff at Apple when Steve came to Apple. So Steve just saw a good thing and latched onto it. Steve’s a self-taught guy. But Woz didn’t have that kind of vision. Woz was more about making do with parts; it’s all about functionality. Steve Jobs brought the design aspect to it.

Daniel Kottke, Apple employee #12, on Steve Jobs, Woz, and more:

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


  1. Kottke is right that Steve was lucky that Ive was at Apple when Steve returned. But Jonathan is lucky Steve returned, because no one at Apple had the vision to recognize what they had in Ive. Woz certainly was the brilliant “engineer” of the group, but from all I’ve ever read over the past 30 years, his brilliance was in accomplishing objectives set by others (notably Jobs pushing him). I like Woz, but it is pretty obvious that he wouldn’t be playing Segway polo and Dancing with the Stars today if he hadn’t hooked up with Jobs. I didn’t listen to the interview, but the quotes reprinted seem to minimize Jobs’ role. I guess that’s how Kottke saw it.

    1. Considering Jobs’ past design successes such as NextCube, Ive was obviously much more lucky with having Jobs rather than other way around.

      Jobs would be certainly having best designs no matter whom he would hire.

      Also, Kottke is not aware about what happened to Apple and Jobs in any more detail than any usual public, so I can not understand why he would be asked/talked about Ive and other such matters.

  2. Was it Daniel that Steve Jobs refused to award any shares to? I think it was but I’m not certain. But there was an early employee that Steve simply refused to reward, even though he did reward others ,when the company started making money. Very sad. But very Steve.

    1. Jobs had firm belief that Kottke did not warrant himself any more value that he was already paid before.

      Since we never know of Jobs’ reasons, we can not say that this was “sad” decision.

      1. Also, it should be noted that this Jobs decision obviously has nothing to with stinginess or something like that. Jobs had no problem sharing with Kottke like his last hundred bucks in the time of Indian travels. And both before and after this case with Kottke Jobs was registered lobbying pretty intensively for his staff to be compensated quite significantly and fairly.

      2. No, I can and did say that. You have your opinion and I have mine. I have never seen anyone interviewed that thought it was anything but a very unkind thing that he did to Daniel. But maybe you were close to Steve? You do realize that he was a very mean spirited person don’t you? Coming up with great product designs and having a great vision for the future have nothing to do with being mean spirited. Mean is mean. Please don’t try to apologize for something that has already happened and you had nothing to do with it.

        1. No, we can not, because we do not know Jobs’ reason.

          There is nothing mean in Jobs’ attitude. Kottke was already paid for his work. Whether he should be paid additionally or not is totally different issue and has nothing to do with Jobs being “mean” until we could hear his reasons — and we can not. Walter Isaacson did not ask for Jobs’ comment on that story — had Steven a half year more to live so that the book would be completed as scheduled by spring of this year, rather than autumn of last year — then Jobs could have time to comment on this and other stories.

          Now what really mean is that some try to judge others, who could not respond.

          1. No. Mean is mean. There are countless documented episodes of jobs being just downright mean towards people. You can stick your head in the sand if you wish, you can make excuses for people if you wish, but in the end he was just simply a mean-spirited person. That’s a fact.

            1. The other episodes have “means” that are not related to awarding issues. There are countles documented episodes where Jobs fought so his staff would be compensated greatly. He was never stringy as he always wanted only best people working for him. And the best people never came cheap.

            2. You could count much more thant “4 or 5” — any number of high-profile Apple employees confirmed through decades that they were offered very good money.

            3. Re : DeRS. You make no sense. High profile employees at all companies are offered very good money. Where have you been? Is this some sort of revelation that you think you have come up with? Damn, you just dig your hole deeper and deeper. Quit while you’re behind. You are embarrassing.

            4. I am just stating the obvious that the fact that Kottke did not receive additional payments has nothing to do with Jobs being stingy (which he was not anyway). It is simply the matter what Jobs thought was deserved or not.

  3. There was an interesting thing about an early paper that Steve Jobs wrote while working at Atari … the one that he stamped with a mantra “gate gate Paragate Parasamgate …” Sold for over 20,000 USD. But also Atari had the man working at night because everyone hated him and he hated everybody there. He thought they were all Dumb Shits. Genius has the effect on some. Some might have commented that he was An Asshole.

    John McClane: Guess I was wrong about you. You’re not such an asshole after all.
    Grant: Oh, you were right. I’m just your kind of asshole.

    ….or he was just “Some peoples kind of asshole”.

  4. Dan was an awesome guy in the late 70s / early 80s. He lived just a couple of blocks from me at the time and we met as members of a social group. He used to come over and simply shoot the breeze about all the neat stuff that he was working on and how he would get chewed out by Regis McKenna for talking too much (giving away secrets or whatever) at demo events for investors. He used to love my wife’s stuffed bell peppers. Eventually we lost track of each other but I’ve tried to follow his comings and goings.

    He also had a keen sense of humor, as can be found here: http://wp.me/p19WFc-mMX

      1. It means he’s a human being jerk-off. It means exactly what it means. What’s YOUR problems/issues? You can’t interject a little humanity into a story? People are more about their private than public moments. Go away.

  5. This meme that Jobs was the “design guy” and Woz the “engineer genius” is totally bogus, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In seeing countless interviews with Woz no one will ever convince me he’s a “genius”, and I wouldn’t even consider him an engineer any more. He hasn’t worked seriously in the industry in decades, instead he’s been a media personality, doing lots and lots of fun and crazy things with his money. Woz helped design the Apple II, almost *40* years ago.

    Steve, on the other hand, stayed fresh and fully versed in the computer industry all along. I still consider my NeXT workstation, purchased in 1991, the most significant personal computer ever manufactured. It was so far ahead of its time that most people didn’t understand it at the time. Steve new his stuff, he could hold his own with the most arcane and esoteric stuff in the industry. Just watch any number of YouTube clips of Steve addressing the WWDC crowd back in the early days when the hall was really filled with programmers and engineers. He knew his stuff, he was far more than a “design guy”.

    1. I think the Woz has never been the same after his plane crash.

      He was however in my opinion a genius in his time. The guy dropped out of engineering school and then went on to design at least 2 computers from scratch, a floppy disk drive controller and various software applications for the computers he built.

      Inventors and engineers to this day follow the work that Woz did in the 70s. The guy is a legend in engineering circles.

      Both Woz and Jobs often are not given the credit they deserve.

    2. Yes it’s hard to believe the public Woz we see today was capable of the things he did in the history of Apple. He never comes off that bright making you think “idiot savant?” and a bit of a buffoon, though a lovable buffoon. And with all due respect. How many of us have done or could do what he did? He was a necessary tech stepping stone who fulfilled his assured moment in history and then stepped aside for others to continue the work.

  6. I have to agree about Woz. I’m not aware of ANYTHING he has invented since the early Apple days. If he has done something notable please post here as it would be interesting reading. All I’ve ever seen of Woz is him lending his name to companies to lend them credence though.

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