Wozniak, Steve 1950- (Rocky Raccoon Clark, Stephen Gary Wozniak)
Wozniak, Steve 1950- (Rocky Raccoon Clark, Stephen Gary Wozniak)
Born August 11, 1950, in San Jose, CA; son of Jerry (an engineer) and Margaret (a homemaker) Wozniak; married Alice Robertson, 1976 (divorced, 1980); married Candi Clark, 1981 (divorced, 1987); married Suzanne Mulkern, 1990; children: Jesse, Sara, Gary (from second marriage), three stepchildren. Education: Attended University of Colorado and DeAnza Community College; received degree from University of California-Berkeley, 1986.
Home—Los Gatos, CA. E-mail—[email protected]
Computer engineer and inventor of Apple computer. Apple Computer Company, cofounder and executive, 1977-1985, 1997—; CL9, cofounder; Los Gatos, CA, public schools, computer teacher. Worked as engineer at Hewlett-Packard Company, Palo Alto, CA, in early 1970s. Founding sponsor, Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet, and Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose. Board member, Jacent, and Danger, Inc.
Grace Murray Hopper award, Association for Computing Machinery, 1979; National Medal for Technology, Fellow award, Computer History Museum, 1997; Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy, and Employment, and induction into National Inventors Hall of Fame, both 2000; Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, 2004; IBC International Award for Excellence, 2007.
(With Larry Wilde) The Official Computer Freaks Joke Book, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1989.
(With Gina Smith) IWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Confounded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2006.
In his memoir IWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Confounded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It, Steve Wozniak recalls the events to which he refers in the book's title: his invention and subsequent marketing of the Apple computer. By making computers both user friendly and relatively inexpensive, Wozniak helped to launch the age of the personal computer. His efforts made him a multimillionaire and changed the way people in much of the world organized their lives. Yet, as he points out in his book, Wozniak remains less interested in profits than in fun and the joy of discovery. He has used his wealth to support educational and cultural organizations, and since the 1990s has worked as a grade-school science teacher in the Los Gatos, California, public school system. As he states in his book, "I figure happiness is the most important thing in life, just how much you laugh."
Indeed, humor features prominently in IWoz, a title that puns on the author's nickname, "Woz." As a shy boy growing up in the Silicon Valley, where his father was an engineer at Lockheed, Wozniak became fascinated by math and technology. He read as much as he could and also learned a great deal from his father, who was eager to explain engineering subjects in terms that the youngster could appreciate. In fifth grade, Wozniak built his own ham radio transmitter and receiver from a kit, and at age eleven, he fashioned a contraption he called a "ticktacktoe" computer. By junior high it was clear that the young inventor possessed extraordinary talent: he won first prize for best electronics project at the Bay Area Science Fair for his binary adding and subtracting computer.
Already too advanced for the standard math and electronics courses at Homestead High School, Wozniak was allowed to study programming at nearby Sylvania, an electronics firm where he programmed the company's computers. In 1966, he was named best math student at Homestead, and was allowed to enroll in seminars at the University of Santa Clara. Not surprisingly, he achieved a perfect score on his math Scholastic Aptitude Test.
After a year at the University of Colorado, Wozniak returned to California and took classes at DeAnza Community College before moving to Berkeley to enroll at the University of California. There he met Steve Jobs, with whom he designed a "little blue box" that allowed users to make free telephone calls il- legally. Soon the boxes were selling to fellow students for 150 dollars each. Enjoying the device's comic potential, Wozniak claims that he once used it to call the Vatican and, pretending to be Henry Kissinger, try to speak to the pope. Another time, as he recounts in his memoir, he and Jobs were using the box in a telephone booth when they were stopped by police, who suspected illegal activity. Wozniak, thinking fast, stated that the device was a music synthesizer. When asked what the orange button did, Jobs calmly answered that it was for "calibration." Their act was good enough to fool the police, and Wozniak writes, "God, I wanted to laugh out loud."
Leaving the university after his junior year to make some money, Wozniak took a job at Hewlett-Packard. When the first home computer kit, the Altair 8800, was introduced in 1975, Wozniak was quite interested in having one but couldn't afford it. By the next year, he had built his own computer out of a cheaper microprocessor, with some additional memory chips. This became the prototype for the more refined Apple, which he and Jobs displayed at a national computer fair later that year. They went on to form Apple Computer, Inc., in 1977. Apple was so successful that, by 1980, Wozniak's stock in the company was worth eighty-eight million dollars.
Peter Burrows, reviewing IWoz in Business Week, observed that the book "truly reflects its author, both in its subject matter and its happy-go-lucky tone." Noting that the book recounts many hilarious episodes, Burrows wrote that "there's real substance, too," in its message about the role of hard work and patience and in its "fresh perspective on an industry that seems so far removed from its original ideals." In ECN: Electronic Component News, Jon Titus considered the book's accounts of Wozniak's "youthful pranks and projects humorous and revealing," adding that "his recollections stress the need to learn basic skills and then apply them." Though Titus was disappointed that the book did not contain more information about the original Apple's electronic design, he added that "the book still captures [Wozniak's] excitement while designing the Apple's circuit and software."
In an interview about IWoz with BusinessWeek Online writer Hardy Green, Wozniak said that his experiences have taught him that "schools close us off from creative development. They do it because education has to be provided to everyone, and that means that government has to provide it, and that's the problem. Also, we've trained kids in school to only do things certain ways, not to get out of line, not to go off into other topics." Having left Apple in 1985, Wozniak began teaching science in the 1990s. As he explained to Lisa Picarille in a Computer Reseller News piece, he had been inspired by a college friend who was a psychology student and who had talked about children's mental development. "I decided that I wanted to give a lot of myself to helping young people's minds develop," Wozniak said.
When Green asked Wozniak what it was that had allowed him, and not somebody else, to invent such revolutionary things, Wozniak answered: "That's what the book is all about. I took a lot of lucky, accidental directions, and they all converged on the Apple II computer…. But you know in your heart when you've stumbled into the right thing…. I did this for no other reason than a love and a passion, and I wanted to do it better than any other person."
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