Woz on Apple, the computer revolution, and working with Steve Jobs

“Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs and designed the company’s first product, the Apple I, remembers the early days.,” Brandon Lisy reports for Businessweek.

Two snippets:

Lisy: Did you think Apple would become a behemoth?
Woz: When we started the company, I knew that the computer was so far ahead of anything the rest of the world had ever seen. We knew we had a revolution. Everyone who joined Apple, this was the greatest thing in their life.

Lisy: We always hear about the garage. Is that a big part of the story?
Woz: The garage is a bit of a myth. We did no designs there, no breadboarding, no prototyping, no planning of products. We did no manufacturing there. The garage didn’t serve much purpose, except it was something for us to feel was our home. We had no money. You have to work out of your home when you have no money.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: They did do testing and boxing in the garage. From iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon (2006), which we highly recommend (it’s better than Steve Jobs official biography):

After the boards were finished, we rounded up Steve’s friend Dan Kottke and Steve’s sister, Patty to plug chips into sockets for $1 a board. Steve would bring us maybe 10 or twenty assembled boards at a time from the manufacturer. And there we would sit on a lab bench in the garage of Steve parent’s house at 11161 Crist Avenue. Then I would plus each assembled board into the TV and keyboard we had there and test it to see if it worked.

If it did, I put it in a box. If it didn’t, I’d figure what pin hadn’t gotten into the socket right or what circuit was shorted. I’d fix the bad ones and put them in the box. After a dozen or two were in the box, Steve would drive them down to Paul Terrell’s store [Byte Shop in Mountainview, California] and get paid in cash.Steve Wozniak, I, Woz, 2006


  1. By now everyone knows Woz for what he is, a public celebrity who “talks from the hip”, that is, he says whatever is on his mind at the moment, without much thought or reflection. He’s been known to contradict himself on several occasions now. His only real contribution to technology was the Apple II motherboard, that’s about it. He was pretty much out of the picture by the time he was injured in the plane crash, after about four years with the early Apple. Now that Steve is no longer around, he can more easily attempt to rewrite the known early history of Apple. As far as I’m concerned, his fame is blown way out of proportion to his true abilities as an engineer.

      1. There are literally dozens of engineers over the past several decades that made more significant contributions than Woz at Apple. The company has been responible for 1000s of significant innovations in computing, Woz’s motherboard is a little weenie in comparison.

        1. But they did not create the company. Like Gates, he just knew enough to establish the business many smarter engineers have worked at MS since. But Woz, Steve and Gates ignited the fire. Dissing Woz is just stupid. As though you could have done it. Why do folks on this forum rag on everyone or everything? I do not get how billionaires and CEOs are idiots according to the Wizards on this forum. Just nuts.

    1. You should really look into Apples actual history and the early people’s direct involvement before you attempt to belittle Woz.

      Yes, Woz has many, many faults and short comings. Yes, we was not (and likely never will be) a great businessman. We all know he can’t dance to save his soul. We all know that he’s not great at telling the details correctly when cornered, live by a reporter.

      Woz did much more than just the Apple I and Apple ][ motherboards. Just for two examples, for the Macs he did the Wozniac Integrated Machine chip which was one of the primary chips driving the Mac’s I/O. Following that up Woz did the Super Wozniac Integrated Machine (SWIM) chip. That chip was used by Apple until Apple stopped including 3 1/2 inch floppies in their machines (long after the introduction of the iMac). Why did Apple keep using the SWIM chip? Because no engineer at Apple could come up with a more elegant, more efficient, or more bullet proof implementation than Woz did.

      The list of things Woz designed at Apple is longer than what I’ve listed above. During the early days it would not be an unfair comparison to think of Woz as the engineering equivalent to Apple what Jony Ive is for design to Apple these days.

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