Finished reading iWoz – the autobiography of Steve Wozniak. As you all know (well some of you do, the others should!) Steve was the creator of the Apple I and the Apple II, computers that changed the way we live today.
What you might not know is along the way he created a lot of other things to, many of which were firsts, including but not limited to… colour control chips to render colour on screen and the universal remote control for home entertainment devices.
He is a humanitarian all the way and even in the early days gave away specs for what became the Apple computer. Steve’s vision was to create something that would make the world a better place for all of mankind. Of course if it has done that is debatable, most of us are now chained to our desks in front of a computer, or always available via mobile phones, laptops, instant messengers and email… and none of it would have happened (well not the way it has) without Steve Wozniak.
He doesn’t hold punches in the book and while at first I was amazed that Steve Jobs refused to write a forward to the book, I now see that Woz lets it be known that Steve Jobs isn’t that nice a guy.
For instance, another thing Woz (who was working at HP) created was Breakout for Atari (the company Jobs worked for at the time). Jobs told Woz they were paid $700 for the game and split it 50:50. Woz later found out that Jobs was paid in excess of $3,000 for the game. Now think back (those of us older to remember), this game was one of Atari’s biggest sellers… do you know anyone who had an Atari that didn’t have Breakout?
Another time, Woz had retired from Apple (but was still on the payroll) and was creating a company to produce his universal remote control. One of the companies designing a prototype for it, Frog Design, was also designing the Macintosh computer. During a visit to their offices, Steve Jobs saw the Prototype and asked about it. When he was told what and who’s it was, he threw it against the wall smashing it, he then told Frog to “Send it to him”. The guys from Frog Design advised Woz that Apple basically “owned” them and that Steve Jobs wanted to make it known.
A shocker that Jobs would want to trample on someone who was supposed to be a friend. But then the Breakout thing was basically the first commercial project they did together and he ripped him off there Woz should have seen that as the shape of things to come.
I suppose in his choice to move away from Apple, he did know that their objectives were incongruous. Woz wanted to work towards a better world for all, Jobs wanted the world…
The other “fact” that Woz wants to make known, and he feels is often mis-reported. He didn’t quit from Apple because he was unhappy with what they were doing. As he points out, Woz never quit from Apple and he exists on their payroll to this day. He says he receives the same salary as the lowest paid employee.
And so while I’ve given a few things away, it’s still a great book to read and I recommend it to anyone who has an insterest in Apple or computers in general. Steve Wozniak is a great, great man, and the world is a better place for him being in it.
Also check out his site at www.woz.org.