Aldo Della Rosa and Steve Wozniak
Stephen Gary “Steve” Wozniak (born Stephan Gary Wozniak on August 11, 1950), also nicknamed “The Woz”, is an American inventor, electronics engineer, programmer, philanthropist, and technology entrepreneur who co-founded Apple Inc. He is known as a pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, along with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Wozniak single-handedly developed the 1976 Apple I, which was the computer that launched Apple. He primarily designed the 1977 Apple II, known as one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputers, while Jobs oversaw the development of its unusual case and Rod Holt developed the unique power supply.
Steve Wozniak was born in San Jose, California, the son of Margaret Elaine (Kern) and Jacob Francis “Jerry” Wozniak. He is of Ukrainian and Swiss-German ancestry. His father was from Tshervona Dibrova, Bukovyna, Ukraine (Bukovyna, Ukraine was under the control of Poland) and his mother from German-Swiss background. The family emigrated to US.
The name on Wozniak’s birth certificate is “Stephan Gary Wozniak”, but Steve’s mother said that she intended it to be spelled “Stephen”, and “Steve” is what he uses.
Wozniak has been referred to frequently by the nickname “Woz”, “The Wonderful Wizard of Woz”, “The Second Steve”, or “The Woz”; “WoZ” (short for “Wheels of Zeus”) is also the name of a company Wozniak founded. The city of San Jose named a street “Woz Way” in his honour.
In the early 1970s, Wozniak was also known as “Berkeley Blue” in the phone phreak community, after he made a blue box.
Wozniak has mentioned that Star Trek was a source of inspiration for him starting Apple Inc.
Origins of Apple In 1969, Wozniak returned to the Bay Area after being expelled from University of Colorado Boulder in his first year for hacking into the institution’s computer system. During this time, Wozniak designed and built his “Cream Soda” computer with his friend Bill Fernandez. He later re-enrolled at De Anza College and transferred to University of California, Berkeley in 1971. Before focusing his attention on Apple, he was employed at Hewlett-Packard where he designed calculators. It was during this time that he befriended Steve Jobs.
Steve Wozniak was introduced to Jobs by friend Bill Fernandez, who attended Homestead High School with Jobs in 1971. Jobs and Wozniak became friends when Jobs worked for the summer at Hewlett-Packard (HP), where Wozniak too was employed, working on a mainframe computer. This was recounted by Wozniak in a 2007 interview with ABC News, of how and when he first met Steve Jobs:
“We first met in 1971 during my college years, while he was in high school. A friend said, ‘you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks.’ So he introduced us.”
In 1973, Jobs was working for arcade game company Atari, Inc. in Los Gatos, California. He was assigned to create a circuit board for the arcade video game Breakout. According to Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari offered $100 (equivalent to $540 in 2016) for each chip that was eliminated in the machine. Jobs had little knowledge of circuit board design and made a deal with Wozniak to split the fee evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, by using RAM for the brick representation.
Too complex to be fully comprehended at the time, the fact that this prototype also had no scoring or coin mechanisms meant Woz’s prototype could not be used. Jobs was paid the full bonus regardless. Jobs told Wozniak that Atari gave them only $700 and that Wozniak’s share was thus $350 (equivalent to $1,888 in 2016). Wozniak did not learn about the actual $5,000 bonus (equivalent to $26,975 in 2016) until ten years later, but said that if Jobs had told him about it and had said he needed the money, Wozniak would have given it to him.
On June 29, 1975 Wozniak tested his first working prototype, displaying a few letters and running sample programs. It was the first time in history that a character displayed on a TV screen was generated by a home computer. With the Apple I design, he and Jobs were largely working to impress other members of the Palo Alto-based Homebrew Computer Club, a local group of electronics hobbyists interested in computing. The Club was one of several key centers which established the home hobbyist era, essentially creating the microcomputer industry over the next few decades. Unlike other Homebrew designs, the Apple had an easy-to-achieve video capability that drew a crowd when it was unveiled.
Original 1976 Apple 1 Computer in a briefcase. From the Sydney Powerhouse Museum collectionIn 1976, Wozniak developed the computer that eventually made him famous. He alone designed the hardware, circuit board designs, and operating system for the Apple I. Jobs had the idea to sell the Apple I as a fully assembled printed circuit board. Wozniak, at first skeptical, was later convinced by Jobs that even if they were not successful they could at least say to their grandkids they had had their own company.
Together they sold some of their possessions (such as Wozniak’s HP scientific calculator and Jobs’ Volkswagen van), raised $1,300, and assembled the first boards in Jobs’ bedroom and later (when there was no space left) in Jobs’ garage. Wozniak’s apartment in San Jose was filled with monitors, electronic devices, and some computer games Wozniak had developed. The Apple I sold for $666.66. (Wozniak later said he had no idea about the relation between the number and the mark of the beast, and “I came up with [it] because I like repeating digits.”) Jobs and Wozniak sold their first 50 system boards to Paul Terrell, who was starting a new computer shop, called the Byte Shop, in Mountain View, California.
On April 1, 1976, Jobs and Wozniak formed Apple Computer (along with administrative supervisor Ronald Wayne, whose participation in the new venture was short lived). Wozniak resigned from his job at Hewlett-Packard and became the vice president in charge of research and development at Apple. Wozniak’s Apple I was similar to the Altair 8800, the first commercially available microcomputer, except the Apple I had no provision for internal expansion cards. With expansion cards the Altair could attach to a computer terminal and be programmed in BASIC. In contrast, the Apple I was a hobbyist machine. Wozniak’s design included a $25 microprocessor (MOS 6502) on a single circuit board with 256 bytes of ROM, 4K or 8K bytes of RAM, and a 40-character by 24-row display controller.
Apple’s first computer lacked a case, power supply, keyboard, and display, all components the user had to provide. After the success of the Apple I, Wozniak designed the Apple II, the first personal computer that had the ability to display color graphics, and BASIC programming language built-in. Inspired by “the technique Atari used to simulate colors on its first arcade games”, Wozniak found a way of putting colors into the NTSC system by using a $1 chip, while colors in the PAL system were achieved by “accident” when a dot occurred on a line, and to this day he has no idea how it works.
During the design stage, Steve Jobs argued that the Apple II should have two expansion slots, while Wozniak wanted six. After a heated argument, during which Wozniak had threatened for Jobs to ‘go get himself another computer’, they decided to go with eight slots. The Apple II became one of the first highly successful mass-produced personal computers.
Steve Wozniak in 1983On February 7, 1981, the Beechcraft Bonanza A36TC Wozniak was piloting crashed soon after takeoff from the Sky Park Airport in Scotts Valley, California. The plane stalled while climbing, then bounced down the runway, went through two fences, and crashed into an embankment. Wozniak and his three passengers—then-fiancée Candice Clark, his brother, and his girlfriend—were injured. Wozniak sustained severe face and head injuries, including losing a tooth, and also suffered for five weeks after the crash from anterograde amnesia, the inability to create new memories.
He had no memory of the crash, and did not remember his name in the hospital or the things he did after he was released. He would later state that Apple II computer games are what helped him regain his memory. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation report cited premature liftoff and pilot inexperience as probable causes of the crash. Wozniak did not immediately return to Apple after recovering from the airplane crash, seeing it as a good reason to leave.
In May 1982 and 1983, Wozniak sponsored two US Festivals to celebrate evolving technologies; they ended up as a technology exposition and a rock festival as a combination of music, computers, television and people. After losing several million dollars on the 1982 festival, he stated that unless the 1983 festival turned a profit, he would end his involvement with rock festivals and get back to designing computers.
Also in 1983, Wozniak returned to Apple product development, desiring no more of a role than that of an engineer and a motivational factor for the Apple workforce. Even with the success he helped create at Apple, Wozniak felt that Apple was a hindrance to become who he wanted to be, and that it was “the bane of his existence”. He enjoyed engineering, not management, and as other engineers joined the growing company, he no longer felt needed at Apple, and by early 1985, Wozniak again left Apple. Stating that the company had “been going in the wrong direction for the last five years”, he sold most of his stock.
Steve Wozniak and Andy Hertzfeld at an Apple Computer Users Group meeting in 1985. After leaving Apple, Wozniak enrolled at UC Berkeley to complete his degree. Because his name was well known at this point, he enrolled under the name Rocky Raccoon Clark, which is the name listed on his diploma.
One thing Wozniak wanted to do was teach elementary school because of the important role teachers play in students’ lives. Eventually, he did teach computer classes to children from the fifth through ninth grades and teachers as well. Wozniak remains an employee of Apple and receives a stipend, estimated to be $120,000 per year. He is also an Apple shareholder. He also maintained a fine acquaintance with Steve Jobs until Jobs’ death in October 2011, although, in 2006, Wozniak stated that he and Jobs were not as close as they used to be. In a 2013 interview, Wozniak said that the Macintosh “failed” under Steve Jobs, and that it was not until Jobs left that it became a success.
Jobs called the Apple Lisa group, the team that had kicked Jobs out, idiots for making the Lisa computer too expensive. To compete with the Lisa, Jobs and his new team produced a cheaper computer, one that, according to Wozniak, was “weak”, “lousy” and “still at a fairly high price”. “He made it by cutting the RAM down, by forcing you to swap disks here and there”, says Wozniak. He attributed the eventual success of the Macintosh to people like John Sculley “who worked to build a Macintosh market when the Apple II went away”.
Wozniak founded CL 9, which developed and brought the first programmable universal remote control to market in 1987.
In 2001, Wozniak founded Wheels of Zeus (WOZ), to create wireless GPS technology to “help everyday people find everyday things much more easily.” In 2002, he joined the board of directors of Ripcord Networks, Inc., joining Ellen Hancock, Gil Amelio, Mike Connor, and Wheels of Zeus co-founder Alex Fielding, all Apple alumni, in a new telecommunications venture. Later the same year he joined the board of directors of Danger, Inc., the maker of the Hip Top.
In 2006, Wheels of Zeus was closed, and Wozniak founded Acquicor Technology, a holding company for acquiring technology companies and developing them, with Apple alumni Hancock and Amelio. From 2009 through 2014 he was chief scientist at Fusion-io. In 2014 he became chief scientist at Primary Data, which was founded by some former Fusion-io executives.
Wozniak on stage at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Australia, May 16, 2012Wozniak is listed as the sole inventor on the following Apple patents: US Patent No. 4,136,359: “Microcomputer for use with video display”—for which he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.US Patent No. 4,210,959: “Controller for magnetic disc, recorder, or the like” US Patent No. 4,217,604: “Apparatus for digitally controlling PAL color display” US Patent No. 4,278,972: “Digitally-controlled color signal generation means for use with display”
In 1990, Wozniak helped found the Electronic Frontier Foundation, providing some of the organization’s initial funding and serving on its founding Board of Directors. Also since leaving Apple, Wozniak has provided all the money, as well as a good amount of on-site technical support, for the technology program in his local school district. Un.U.Son. (Unite Us In Song), an organization Wozniak formed to organize the two US festivals, is now primarily tasked with supporting his educational and philanthropic projects. In 1986, Wozniak lent his name to the Stephen G. Wozniak Achievement Awards (popularly known as “Wozzie Awards”), which he presented to six Bay Area high school and college students for their innovative use of computers in the fields of business, art and music. More recently, Wozniak was the subject of a student-made film production of his friend’s (Joe Patane) nonprofit Dream Camp Foundation for high-level need youth titled Camp Woz: The Admirable Lunacy of Philanthropy.
Honors and awards
In 1979, Wozniak was awarded the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award. In 1985, Wozniak received the National Medal of Technology (with Steve Jobs) from US President Ronald Reagan. In December 1989, he received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Later he donated funds to create the “Woz Lab” at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 1998, he was named a Fellow of the Computer History Museum “for co-founding Apple Computer and inventing the Apple I personal computer.” Wozniak is a key contributor and benefactor to the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose; the street in front of the museum has been renamed Woz Way in his honor.
In September 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and in 2001 he was awarded the 7th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. The American Humanist Association awarded him the Isaac Asimov Science Award in 2011.
In December 2005, Wozniak was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Kettering University. He also received honorary degrees from North Carolina State University and Nova Southeastern University, and the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology. In May 2011, Wozniak received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Michigan State University. In June 2012, Wozniak was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Santa Clara University.
He was awarded the Global Award of the President of Armenia for Outstanding Contribution to Humanity Through IT in 2011.
On February 17, 2014, in Los Angeles, Steve Wozniak was awarded the 66th Hoover Medal from IEEE President & CEO J. Roberto de Marca. The award is presented to an engineer whose professional achievements and personal endeavors have advanced the well-being of humankind and is administered by a board representing five engineering organizations: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the American Society of Civil Engineers; the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers; and IEEE.
The New York City Chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization presented their 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award to Steve Wozniak on October 16, 2014 at the American Museum of Natural History. In November 2014, Industry Week added Steve Wozniak to the Manufacturing Hall of Fame. On June 19, 2015, Wozniak received the Legacy for Children Award from the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose. The Legacy for Children Award honors an individual whose legacy has significantly benefited the learning and lives of children. The purpose of the Award is to focus Silicon Valley’s attention on the needs of our children, encouraging us all to take responsibility for their well-being. Candidates are nominated by a committee of notable community members involved in children’s education, health care, human and social services, and the arts.
On June 20, 2015, The Cal Alumni Association (UC Berkeley’s Alumni Association) presented Wozniak with the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award. “We are honored to recognize Steve Wozniak with CAA’s most esteemed award,” said CAA President Cynthia So Schroeder ’91. “His invaluable contributions to education and to UC Berkeley place him among Cal’s most accomplished and respected alumni.”
In March 2016, High Point University announced that Wozniak will serve as their Innovator in Residence. Wozniak was High Point University’s commencement speaker in 2013. Through this ongoing partnership, Wozniak will connect with High Point University students and will visit campus on March 23, 2016.
Wozniak was welcomed back to High Point University’s campus in February 2017 to speak with students, faculty, staff and members of the community about a variety of topics. In March 2017, Wozniak was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 18 in the list of 200 Most Influential Philanthropists and Social Entrepreneurs.
For his contributions to technology, Wozniak has been awarded a number of Honorary Doctor of Engineering degrees which include the following: University of Colorado at Boulder: 1989, North Carolina State University: 2004, Kettering University: 2005, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale: 2005, ESPOL University in Ecuador: 2008, Michigan State University, in East Lansing 2011, Concordia University in Montreal Canada: June 22, 2011, State Engineering University of Armenia: November 11, 2011, Santa Clara University: June 16, 2012, University Camilo Jose Cela in Madrid, Spain: November 8, 2013, Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria in Lima, Peru: November 22, 2013, Universidad San Juan Bautista in Lima, Peru: June 9, 2015.
Wozniak has been mentioned, represented or interviewed many times including the following programs:
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015), Camp Woz: The Admirable Lunacy of Philanthropy – a 2009 documentary, “Geeks On Board” a 2007 documentary, The Secret History of Hacking – a 2001 documentary film featuring Wozniak, Triumph of the Nerds – a 1996 PBS documentary series about the rise of the personal computer, Steve Wozniak’s Formative Moment – a March 15, 2016, original short feature film from Reddit Formative Moment.
1999: Pirates of Silicon Valley – a TNT film directed by Martyn Burke. Wozniak is portrayed by Joey Slotnick while Jobs is played by Noah Wyle. 2013: Jobs – a film directed by Joshua Michael Stern. Wozniak is portrayed by Josh Gad, while Jobs is portrayed by Ashton Kutcher. 2015: Steve Jobs – a feature film by Danny Boyle, with a screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin. Wozniak is portrayed by Seth Rogen, while Jobs is portrayed by Michael Fassbender. 2015: Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates: The Competition to Control the Personal Computer, 1974–1999: Original film from the National Geographic Channel for the American Genius series.
After seeing her stand-up performance in Saratoga, California, Wozniak began dating comedian Kathy Griffin. Together, they attended the 2007 Emmy Awards, and subsequently made many appearances on the fourth season of her show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. Wozniak is on the show as her date for the Producers Guild of America award show. However, on a June 19, 2008 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Griffin confirmed that they were no longer dating and decided to remain friends.
Wozniak portrays a parody of himself in the first episode of the television series Code Monkeys; he plays the owner of Gameavision before selling it to help fund Apple. He later appears again in the twelfth episode when he is in Las Vegas at the annual Video Game Convention and sees Dave and Jerry. He also appears in a parody of the “Get a Mac” ads featured in the final episode of Code Monkeys second season. Wozniak is also interviewed and featured in the documentary Hackers Wanted and on BBC.
Wozniak competed on Season 8 of Dancing with the Stars in 2009 where he danced with Karina Smirnoff. Despite Wozniak and Smirnoff receiving 10 combined points from the three judges out of 30, the lowest score of the evening, he remained in the competition. He later posted on a social networking site that he felt that the vote count was not legitimate and suggested that the Dancing with the Stars judges had lied about the vote count to keep him on the show.
After being briefed on the method of judging and vote counting, he retracted and apologized for his statements. Despite suffering a pulled hamstring and a fracture in his foot, Wozniak continued to compete, but was eliminated from the competition on March 31, with a score of 12 out of 30 for an Argentine Tango.
On September 30, 2010, he appeared as himself on The Big Bang Theory season 4 episode “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification”. While dining in The Cheesecake Factory where Penny works, he is approached by Sheldon via telepresence on a Texai robot. Leonard tries to explain to Penny who Wozniak is, but she says she already knows him from Dancing with the Stars.
On September 30, 2013, he appeared along with Apple alum Daniel Kottke and Andy Hertzfeld on the television show John Wants Answers to discuss the movie Jobs.
Wozniak signs a Modbook for a fan during an appearance at the 2009 Macworld ExpoWozniak lives in Los Gatos, California. He applied for Australian citizenship in 2012, and has stated that he would like to live in Melbourne, Australia in the future.
He is a Freemason, despite not having faith in a supreme being (which is required by Masonic rules except in “Liberal” or Continental Freemasonry). Wozniak describes his impetus for joining the Freemasons as being able to spend more time with his wife at the time, Alice Robertson. Alice belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star, associated with the Masons. Wozniak has said that he quickly rose to a third degree Freemason because, whatever he does, he tries to do well. He was initiated in 1979 at Charity Lodge No. 362 in Campbell, California, now part of Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 292 in Los Gatos.
Wozniak was married to Candice Clark from June 1981 to 1987. They have three children together, the youngest being born after their divorce was finalized. After a high-profile relationship with actress Kathy Griffin, Wozniak married Janet Hill, his current spouse.
On his religious views, Wozniak called himself an “atheist or agnostic”.
He is a member of a Segway Polo team, the Silicon Valley Aftershocks.
Wozniak’s favorite video game is Tetris, and he had a high score for Sabotage. In the 1990s he submitted so many high scores for Tetris to Nintendo Power that they would no longer print his scores, so he started sending them in under the alphabetically reversed name “Evets Kainzow”.
Wozniak has the condition prosopagnosia, or face-blindness.