The man who invented the home computer
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and King of the Geeks, talks to Damien Noonan about Macs and more
Steve Wozniak, known worldwide as ‘Woz’, is a reluctant celebrity. As the man who designed and built the first Apple computer, and who co-founded the Apple brand, he has become a public figure.
The shy 56-year-old has long known that people want to read his story, and now he has written it. The book, iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon, is a compelling, first-hand account of a particular time (the early 1970s) and a particular place (the part of California known as "Silicon Valley") in which genuinely exciting changes were happening that would alter global culture.
The central figures are Woz, the simple, hard-working engineer, and the slightly Machiavellian figure of Steve Jobs, marketing man extraordinaire. And as Woz puts it, the plot is this: "How did two young kids, early 20s, with absolutely no money, somehow piece together and build up the structure that was gonna define where the world went?"
There's no question that this is what they did. In 1975, when Woz built the Apple I, home computers were messes of chips and wire put together from kits by geeky enthusiasts. Data was usually entered from a paper tape, and the results of whatever program was run would be shown as flashing lights on the front panel.
"It was like an airplane cockpit," recalls Woz. Instead, he designed a computer that could take input from a keyboard and display data on a TV screen, and that was cheap enough to be affordable and powerful enough to run games and small-business software. "I wanted to get rid of the geeky part of computers," he insists.
His friend Steve Jobs got some circuit boards made up, which they sold to enthusiasts who could make their own Apple Computers
; then he landed orders to build ready-made machines for local shops; then he helped to turn Woz's next design, the Apple II, into the world's first ready-to-buy home computer, with a built-in keyboard and a smart plastic case. Between 1977 and 1983, when the IBM
PC finally caught up to it, the Apple II was the world's best-selling computer. When Apple went public in 1980, it was America's largest flotation.
Press cutting taken from The Telegraph - Saturday October 28, 2006