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Authors: Steve Wozniak,Gina Smith

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iWoz

BOOK: iWoz
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Additional praise for
iWoz

"This memoir truly reflects its author, both in its subject matter and in its happy-go-lucky tone. ... A welcome, fresh perspective for an industry that seems so far removed from its original ideals.—Peter Burrows,
Business Week
"Wozniak designed the Apple II computer in 1977 that put him— and the company—on the map, and one can't help getting caught up in his excitement when reading about it firsthand. . . . Wozniak has earned the bragging rights. . . . Budding computer- science majors, Apple aficionados and electronics buffs will find plenty to ingest here."
—J. D. Biersdorfer,
New York Times Book Review

 

"iWoz
is the story about a man filled with curiosity and drive. . . . And it's about never forgetting what makes a person happy in life and never forgetting one's dreams."
—Russ Juskalian,
USA Today
"iWoz
traces the life and times of a brilliant, gifted . .. individual whose contributions to the scientific, business and cultural realms are extensive."—
Bookpage
"iWoz
is Steve Wozniak's entertaining version of how [the birth of Apple] happened, but it is also a personal story about a smart kid who had a real love of engineering. ... A sincere book."
—Enterprise
"Steve Wozniak tells his version of the company's genesis in an endearingly gee-whiz conversational style."—James Sullivan,
Boston Sunday Globe

 

"The mastermind behind Apple tells his story for the first time, from the invention of the first personal computer to the rise of Apple as an industry giant."—
Book Passage
"At last, Mr. Wozniak gets the stage all to himself [in a] chatty memoir full of surprises. ... He reveals a technology pioneer more charming—and whose life is more poignant—than we expected."—George Anders,
Wall Street Journal
"This book is Wozniak's entertaining version of how it all happened, but it's also a personal story about a smart kid who had amazingly supportive parents and a real love of engineering. . . . It's a sincere book, but also a funny one that reflects Woz's lighter side. . .. The sweet, loving, almost innocent quality of this memoir sets it apart from most business people's bios, yet it still tells a fascinating story of this inventor."
—Jack Covert, Denver Business Journal

Copyright © 2006 by Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith

All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
First published as a Norton paperback 2007
For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permis-
sions, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
Manufacturing by RR Donnelley, Bloomsburg
Book design by Charlotte Staub
Production manager: Julia Druskin
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Wozniak, Steve, 1950-
iWoz / Steve Wozniak with Gina Smith.
p. cm.
ISBN 13: 978-0-393-06143-7 (hardcover)
ISBN 10: 0-393- 06143-4 (hardcover)
1. Wozniak, Steve 1950-. 2. Apple Computer, Inc. — History. 3. Computer engineers—
United States—Biography. 4. Inventors—United States—Biography. 5. Computer industry—
United States—History. I. Smith, Gina. II. Title.
QA76.2.W69W69 2006
631.39092—dc22
[B]      2006023335
ISBN 978-0-393-33043-4 pbk.
W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110
www.wwnorton.com
W. W. Norton & Company Ltd., Castle House, 75/76 Wells Street, London WIT 3QT

1234567890

iWoz

Chapter 1
Our Gang: The Electronics Kids

You usually start books like this by talking about your parents: who they were, or what they did for a living before you were born or while you were growing up. But the thing is, I never did know for sure what my dad did for a living. As early as I can remember, my brother, sister, and I all had to grow up with this secret. And as secrets go, oh man, this one was huge. We weren't even allowed to talk about his work or ask questions about it in the house. The conversation was strictly off-limits.
I did know Dad was an engineer, and I knew he worked in the missile program at Lockheed. That much he said, but that was pretty much it. Looking back, I figure that because this was in the late 1950s and early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, when the space program was so hot and top secret and all, probably that's why he couldn't tell me anything more about it. What he worked on, what he did eveiy day at work, he'd say absolutely nothing about. Even up to the day he died, he didn't give so much as a hint.
I remember how in 1960, when I was ten, I finally understood why he'd never be able to. He said it was because he was a man of his word. Once, when he was explaining why you should never lie under oath in court, that's what he said: "I'm a man of my word."
Now, on my own, I managed to put together little bits and pieces. I remember seeing NASA-type pictures of rockets, and stuff related to the Polaris missile being shot from submarines or something, but he was just so closemouthed about it, the door slammed there.
I tell you this because I'm trying to point out that my dad believed in honesty. Extreme honesty. Extreme ethics, really. That's the biggest thing he taught me. He used to tell me it was worse to lie about doing something bad under oath than it was to actually do something bad, even like murdering someone. That really sunk in. I never lie, even to this day. Not even a little. Unless you count playing pranks on people, which I don't. That's comedy. Entertainment doesn't count. A joke is different from a lie, even if the difference is kind of subtle.
The other thing my dad taught me was a lot about electronics. Boy, do I owe a lot to him for this. He first started telling me things and explaining things about electronics when I was really, really young—before I was even four years old. This is before he had that top secret job at Lockheed, when he worked at Electronic Data Systems in the Los Angeles area. One of my first memories is his taking me to his workplace on a weekend and showing me a few electronic parts, putting them on a table with me so I got to play with them and look at them. I can still picture him standing there working on some kind of equipment. I don't know if he was soldering or what, but I do remember him hooking something up to something else that looked like a little TV set. I now know it was an oscilloscope. And he told me he was trying to get something done, trying to get the picture on the screen with a line (it was a waveform) stable-looking so he could show his boss that his design worked.
And I remember sitting there and being so little, and thinking: Wow, what a great, great world he's living in. I mean, that's all I
thought: Wow. For people who know how to do this stuff—how to take these little parts and make them work together to do something—well, these people must be the smartest people in the world. That was really what went through my head, way back then.
Now, I was, of course, too young at that point to decide that I wanted to be an engineer. That came a few years later. I hadn't even been exposed to science fiction or books about inventors yet, but just then, at that moment, I could see right before my eyes that whatever my dad was doing, whatever it was, it was important and good.

• o •

A couple of years later—I was six, maybe seven—I remember Dad demonstrating another piece of equipment for a bunch of people at his company. A big group of people was there. These weren't just people he worked with, but also our whole family and other families, too. I think it was just a drilling machine he was demonstrating.
And my dad, even though I was just this little kid, told me I would be the one to get to throw the switch to turn it on. He said I had to do it at the exact right time.
I remember worrying about how I would know when the right time was and thinking: Now? Now? When should I do this? Now? My dad was busy talking and joking with the families of the guys who worked there, who were going to watch me do it. Then suddenly it felt like the right time. I can't explain why, but I just felt inside it was the right time. So I went ahead and threw the switch.
I heard a lot of laughter, and I didn't know why. Suddenly I realized I had thrown the switch too early. Now that I look back on this, I see this might be the beginning of my shyness, you know, getting butterflies in your stomach because you're afraid of failure when you have to talk or something.
Or maybe that was my first prank, but it was definitely unintentional!

• o •

But there were also lessons from my dad, serious lessons that got me an incredibly early start in engineering. These lessons would always start because I'd ask a question. And I had a lot of questions.
Because my dad was an engineer, there were all kinds of interesting things lying around my house. And when you're in a house and there are resistors lying around everywhere, you ask, "What's that? What's a resistor?" And my dad would always give me an answer, a really good answer even a seven-year-old could understand. He was just an extremely good teacher and communicator.
He never started out by trying to explain from the top down what a resistor is. He started from the beginning, going all the way back to atoms and electrons, neutrons, and protons. He explained what they were and how everything was made from those. I remember we actually spent weeks and weeks talking about different types of atoms and then I learned how electrons can actually flow through things—like wires. Then, finally, he explained to me how the resistors work—not by calculations, because who can do calculations when you're a second grader, but by real commonsense pictures and explanations. You see, he gave me classical electronics training from the beginning. For engineers, there's a point in life when you understand things like how a resistor works. Usually it comes much later for people than it did for me. By the fourth grade, I really did understand things like that.
And my dad was always around to help me understand still more things. Like light. How does a lightbulb work? I wanted to know. Not many people my age knew—probably most people who are grown up still don't. But he explained it to me: first how
lights are made, then how electrons went through wires, and how those were what made a lightbulb glow. And I wanted to know how, how did it glow? So he went back to the beginning, explaining to me how Thomas Edison invented lightbulbs and what he had to figure out to do it. He realized that basically you had to create a vacuum—it had to be a vacuum because if there were oxygen in it, the wire would just burn up when it got hot. So this vacuum (remember, a vacuum has no air in it) is in this little bulb, and the point was to get heat—by moving a lot of electrons through a wire—into it.
And the more electrons that go through the wire—that is, the higher the current—the brighter the lightbulb will glow. Cool! I was eight or even younger when I understood this, and knowing it made me feel different from everyone else, different from all the kids I knew. I started to feel as if I knew secrets no one else knew.
I have to point out here that at no time did my dad make a big deal about my progress in electronics. He taught me stuff, sure, but he always acted as if it was just normal for me. By the sixth grade, I was really advanced in math and science, everyone knew it, and I'd been tested for IQ and they told us it was 200-plus. But my dad never acted like this was something he should push me along with. He pulled out a blackboard from time to time, a tiny little blackboard we had in our house on Edmonton Avenue, and when I asked, he would answer anything and make diagrams for it. I remember how he showed me what happened if you put a plus voltage into a transistor and got a minus voltage out the other end of the transistor. There must have been an inverter, a type of logic gate. And he even physically taught me how to make an AND gate and an OR gate out of parts he got—parts called diodes and resistors. And he showed me how they needed a transistor in between to amplify the signal and connect the output of one gate to the input of the other.
BOOK: iWoz
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