back to article Woz's key to success: Burn the tie, wear T-shirts to work

Singapore is far too strait-laced, says Apple co-founder and engineering hero Steve Wozniak, and employers should let their workers wear T-shirts. Speaking this morning, Woz told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a counterculture ethos was vital for creativity and it had a continuing influence on Apple. And a counterculture …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens

    when everyone wears tshirts to work?

    ...and the counter culture becomes the predominate culture?

    Kinda reminds me of the kids I used to see at punk shows, who intentionally showed up looking like their mom dressed them.

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Those are called hipsters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cap'n

        They were usually dressing that way to taunt other people into starting fights with them. They were punk, but were so punk that they didn't dress "punk" (quotes intentional) to screw with other people. They were, in their manner of dress, counter-counter-culture.

        I don't think that means they were hipster... maybe it does(?) I'm old and boring now so hell if I know anymore.

        /Shakes first and yells "Get off my lawn!" at the kids walking by...

        : )

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          When I was in my early twenties I wondered what the next generation would do to shock me in the way younger generations had done for several decades before that (at least).

          I went to see Kasabian last week and I finally got my answer.

          They look completely and utterly normal and totally out of place at a gig. Other than an allegiance to iPhones, they didn't look like part of any scene at all. I guess this is what happens when you need to be an O2 subscriber to get tickets nowadays.

    2. Ken 16 Silver badge

      so long as they're apple t-shirts then they're still revolutionary

  2. David Webb

    I want some of what that guy is on. Look at a country which, like Singapore, is straight-laced. Japan. Their culture puts America to shame, you ever watched a J-Pop video? Great authors? Has he read twilight? People in other countries have their own stars based on their own culture, we have Mr Blobby, they have some other dude dressed in a rubber suit.

    Wearing a T-Shirt doesn't promote creativity, it detracts from it, ask Einstein, having to choose what to wear each day is bad for the brain, but looking at Apple, don't all the Apple store drones all wear a uniform?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      When Japanese company Fujitsu took over ICL in the UK, they removed all dresscode rules.

      And not having to wear a sweaty shirt and restrictive tie made me more comfortable, and helped my creativity.

      1. Stevie Silver badge


        I don't think ICL had a corporate policy on laundering. In fact I recall several ICL people who *didn't* look or smell like scruffy gits.

        I'll give you that they were in the minority, but we did have washing machines and laundrettes in the 1970s.

      2. BaronMatrix

        You may be why America is so low in STEM education.

        I'm wearing a button down shirt with a collar and I have NEVER sweat at work - even with a tie AND jacket.

        If Woz was "all that" he would be Steve Jobs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Not everyone has a sloths metabolism or an office with A/C.

          I get plenty of exercise, so have a healthy metabolism, so just a shirt and tie is enough to make me sweat in most (too warm) offices, let-alone a jacket too; I wear breathable clothing at work, to be tolerably comfortable, so that I can think clearly to do hard software work.

          'Smart' clothing just makes for fatties and mistakes, I've seen it, so it isn't really that smart!

          Steve Jobs was not all that, he was just a hypester 'hip' salesman with a very good industrial designer to back him up, but had some serious character flaws and judgement issues which directly contributed to his early death; this should not be confused with the productive creativity of an engineer like Woz; someone who did the actual work and is still alive!

    2. Aaron Em

      Yeah, but

      Singapore has a future.

    3. Francis Boyle Silver badge


      If Einstein where around today he'd have a dozen sets of black t-shirt and jeans.

  3. mark 63 Silver badge

    bet the ones in the apple store cant wear what they want

  4. A. Lewis

    What pretentious rubbish.

    "I'm a different and unique rebel" - spoken in chorus by one million iPhone owners.

    Mr Wozniak is so proud of his 'counterculture' culture, that he does the same as so many other fashionistas and fails to see that all he's doing is conforming to another standard.

    Having structure, discipline or a corporate dress standard doesn't stifle creativity any more than the act of wearing a t-shirt enhances it. Idiotic.

    1. Andy Watt

      It's not pretentious rubbish: dress codes are only one visible expression of control...

      Squeegee your third eye, drone. Think it through. And the facile "if everybody wears T-shirts, isn't that a uniform / new conformity" crap won't wash either.

      Companies who mandate a dress code and enforce it are a controlling force from above. If your company controls from above, then unless the guy at the top is one hell of an excellent dictator who can second guess all creative acts required to create excellent products, you're screwed.

      See, the control mechanisms will promote those who conform: those who conform are, by definition, not free thinkers: free thinking is a state of mind which applies to _every aspect_ of your life.

      If those who control the company at every level are not free thinkers, they will not look kindly on free thinking - try getting a radical idea past your boss if he's risk-averse and you'll see the point.

      Sorry, Woz is right: if you want creativity, either loosen up or have an arm of your company which _is_.

      1. Aaron Em

        Oh for God's sake

        Another half-assed Bill Hicks acolyte-wannabe too ignorant of his own species' history to realize that, absent the concepts -- and implementations -- of hierarchy and authority which he professes so to loathe, he'd never have existed to utter such an ungrateful whine in the first place.

        Sure, Woz built some neat computers; I grew up using one of them. But if Apple had been a company of Woz and a bunch of Woz-alikes, without Jobs, then we'd never have heard of them.

        I used to be like you. Thank God I got better.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          I'm not a Bill Hicks wannabee

          I'm a Douglas Adams wannabee.

          And anyway I wouldn't have existed if not for Hitler but that doesn't stop me being 21236468th on the list of people who get to have a crack at killing him should time travel ever be invented..

          1. Aaron Em

            "Squeegee your third eye"

            gives the game away all by itself -- disbelieving third parties are invited to Google the phrase and see if I'm not right. If you want to come off as a Douglas Adams wannabe, you're going to have to put in some more quote-mining effort first, I think.

            And that's not all that gives the game away, either, for someone such as myself who has some familiarity with Hicks' oevure. There's a certain stridency to the ignorant "there is no governor anywhere" ranting which I find extremely familiar and which, I'd argue, is fairly distinctive -- it's not unique, of course, but in order to encounter it elsewhere you have to be much more widely read in the anti-cultural literature than I'm willing to give you credit for being. Inasmuch as anyone could be said to have popularized that superficially exciting but completely hollow nonsense, Hicks is the man who did it, so it's upon him I lay the blame for the babble of yours to which I responded. (I will say, though, that Hicks-fannishness makes a pretty good indicator of approximate social maturity, to say nothing of the depth and breadth of a person's historical knowledge.)

            As for the rest, I could cry Godwin, but let's face it: people who cry Godwin are tiresome, unimaginative gobshites foolish enough to believe that a catch-phrase equals an argument. So instead I'll say: You'd be willing to throw your own life away in order to take a pot-shot at someone absent whose actions you wouldn't exist, and who in any case has already been dead for going on seventy years now? That's...something. Not something particularly virtuous or respectable, granted, and certainly something which makes me wonder why you value your own life so cheaply -- but it sure is something, all right.

      2. BaronMatrix


        I'll say it again. If that "Culture" is so great why is America so far behind in STEM education? Why are there more Liberal Arts majors than Science majors?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complete twaddle

    >you wear what you want to wear

    And as I look around the office I see a sea of jeans and t-shirts. There is no such thing as individuality when it comes to dress. Punks wanted to be different, goths wanted to be different, you name then they all wanted to be different and they all looked the same.

    1. CD001

      Ummm... not really:

      Goth, punk etc are pretty damned big nets... do an image search on "Trad Goth" for instance vs "Cyber Goth" - both are still Goth but the styles are worlds apart (not to mention the whole Steampunk thing)...

      It's all about accessorising darling; even the standard jeans/t-shirt combo can be make unique with the right accessories; hell, I make a shirt/trousers combo unique(ish) :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ooo, listen to her

        Handbags at five paces.

        Challenge declined.

      2. Aaron Em

        Yeah but nobody gives a fuck

        Except goths, and who cares what goths think? Most of us aren't in high school any more.

  6. Mark McNeill

    O tempora o mores

    It's "strait-laced", not "straight-laced". Strait means narrow or tight, confined, or strict. Straight means, er, straight.

    Oh, and Woz, it's "want to", not "wanna". You'll never get anywhere using language like that.

  7. Aaron Em

    ISO standard public dotage

    started early for ol' Woz, didn't it? I mean, since the Apple II, there's been --

    -- I mean, there's been --

    -- surely there's been *something*, hasn't there?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    might work in Apple Land.

    But there is a real world out there, I mean only last week I went to the bank to ask for a business loan, wearing. Bright pink flowery shirt, skin tight shorts, and flip flops.

    The week before I quoted for a £700,000 service contract wearing blue and red t-shirt, combat shorts, hadn't had my haircut in three years and forgot to shave since last May. I propped my surf board against the desk.

    Did I get the loan?

    Did I get the contract?

    1. TheOtherHobbbes

      The correct answers to both questions are...

      ...Who gives a flying poptart cat?

      Serious seven-figure-contract people are just as pretentious as hipster wannabes. The godawful abrasive cash-driven noise coming out of our financial centers is more than enough proof of that - as is the endless stream of self-aggrandising widdle-plop drivel in business communications.

      Saying 't-shirts iz teh kewl' is stupid, but it's tragically less inane than the self-important wanky bollocks that gets pimped out as wisdom in business, management, and economics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        YOU HAVE

        Some serious issues

      2. BorkedAgain

        I think you may have missed our anonymous friend's point.

        He's not saying "Woo, I gets teh big bucks!" I think he's pointing out that, whatever you wear within the confines of your own soya-scented solution exploration space, when you venture beyond that into the realms of traditional business (and there's a heck of a lot of that still going on, believe it or not...) it makes sense to adopt appropriate dress and tone. Nothing wrong with that; most people working in real business realise that, and are sufficiently mature to realise it isn't selling out, and it isn't going straight, it's just dressing appropriately.

        You don't have to do it, but if you choose not to you'd better be exceptionally good in some other area, or prepared to fail to engage more often than you succeed.

        Anyway, I don't see the problem. Everyone looks good in a half-decent suit. These days, you don't have to do up the top button and wear a tie... ;)

        1. Ramazan

          @most people working in real business realise

          You mean people like Sergey Brin and Larry Page I presume?

          1. BorkedAgain

            I think Sergey and Larry would qualify as being exceptionally good at something; at the very least, they're capable of peeling twenties off their pocket-wad considerably longer than most of us can manage. They can afford to dress like scruffs. My point stands.

  9. Mark Marsh

    "I think he's got a lot of liberal counterculture thinking but then Apple does a lot of very conservative things, we control things and have very little tolerance. For example, if an engineer tells a friend something then he's fired."

    Maybe that's part of the key to Apple's success - it appeals to people who like to think of themselves as creative but are actually quite conservative.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      I'm not sure that's exactly it...

      ... as conservatives tend strongly to believe in free markets whereas Apple explicitly curate their marketplace.

      That said, I do agree with you that the quote you've copied was probably the most revealing part of the interview. Quite a lot of the commenters above don't quite seem to have bothered reading that far though, judging by the knee-jerk 'Woz is a hypocrite — look at how strict Apple is with its employees' comments.

      I guess one argument could be that Apple succeeds as a company because it is somehow able to attract enough of the creatives while maintaining a strict business organisation? You know, navigating between the rhetorical poles of attracting a bunch of extremely creative people and never quite managing to pull everything together or being extremely good at money and organisation but managing to employ only routine thinkers.

      Other real companies aren't polarised either but Apple's trade-off does often sound unique.

  10. Hollerith 1

    Clothing is not rebellion

    If everyone wears T-shirts, if that's what is expected, then you've a different sort of conformity.

    If you hire the same sort of person (geeks or suburban kids or white guys or whatever) then you get a mono-culture. Yes, throwing a handful of subject experts in a room can often create sparks, but so can a bunch of experts in a range of things, and the sparks can cover a wider area. That's why cities are fertile with innovation: lots of people from lots of different backgrounds, with lots of different ways of thinking.

    I don't know how you create an 'international', multi-race, multi-class, well-balanced gender mix if you aren't an actively talent-managing global company. Someone, the cutting-edge companies seem to manage. Perhaps because they hire only the best, with 'best' being the only criterion they look at?

  11. dognolegs

    Pshaw and pish

    Dear little Woz, happy little child - don't you know that 'the suits' decide everything in this world?

    1. Sceptic Tank Bronze badge
      Paris Hilton

      Woz invented a computer that started the era of the personal computer.

      And you changed the world by ....

      1. Aaron Em

        Woz built a neat machine...

        ...which, if not for Jobs, nobody'd ever have heard of.

      2. BaronMatrix

        I thought that was IBM.

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A more reliable key to success

    Be quite good at what you do (or at least learn how to do what you've claimed you can, before the delivery deadline). Then be the one in 100 million from the above group who just randomly happens to be in the right place, with the right people at the right time.

    As for ties, tees or even trousers: what you wear is so completely irrelevant that you may as well ascribe your success to what you ate for breakfast or the colour of your socks.

    1. MacGyver
      IT Angle

      I agree..

      I guess it's a good thing that someone didn't adopt those "Pulp Fiction" style gimp suits as the business standard dress.

      I don't wear a suit, and I never will, I don't want a job that requires one. I am happy making the $60,000 I make, and wearing jeans and no tie, and I'll be happy if that is the most I'll ever make without wearing a suit.

      It is absurd to judge a person's skill and intelligence based upon their ability to buy a suit, and then dress themselves in it. What are we peacocks?

      Do you want people to fix your network, or play dress-up so that the office looks like a bank?

      Someone made a comment about not getting a bank loan because they did not wear a suit. Not only do we pay them interest, they get to decide what we wear too? Will they also get first crack at our new brides too?

      A suit does not add anything to a person, it doesn't make them smarter, it doesn't make the stronger. It is something we do because we are pressured into it by other people being pressured themselves, or by douches wanting to show off that they can afford to buy a $5,000 suit and you can't.

      I don't know about feeling less creative, but wearing a suit does make me uncomfortable, feel hot and sweaty in the summer, restrict my movements, and make me feel like I'm being strangled.

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge

        I like wearing a suit, I'd hate being made wear a T-Shirt just because my management decide it's more creative. Do you want people to fix your banking database or dress up like students?

        1. Captain Underpants

          @Ken 16

          I suspect you've misunderstood a key part of the phrase "you wear what you want to wear" in the original article.

          You like wearing suits? Fair enough, knock yourself out. Some of us don't, however. Whether it's a purely aesthetic reason or a practical one is irrelevant. In a corporate culture that mandates suits, it is foolish to assume that "wearing a suit = is a professional business person", because the actual convention states that "wearing a suit = makes you *appear* to be a professional business person".

          If you want an environment that fosters creative development and exploration, an overly-proscriptive environment where conventions are treated as though they were cosmological truths handed down by the Alien Marmite Gods is probably not a great place to start.

        2. Ian North

          As long as they fix the banking database that's been broken, they could come to work in a florescent pink mankini for all I care!

        3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

          @Ken 16

          Woz said: "let people wear what they like" he did not say: " everybody must wear T-shirts". If you feel good in a suit, wear it! If you don't, no worries. That is pretty much the attitude in our research school. I only wear a suit at BSc, MSc and PhD graduation ceremonies. Suits are to warm and stifling for me, others like them.

          Authority is obtained through force of personality, prior achievements, and (most importantly!!) through the quality of arguments given, but not through suit and tie. Again, this is a research setting. Quite a few businesses work differently. They should make up their own minds whether an informal dress code would suit them.

          1. Pete 2 Silver badge

            @Michael H.F. Wilkinson

            > Authority is obtained through force of personality, prior achievements, and (most importantly!!) through the quality of arguments given, but not through suit and tie.

            First, I must apologise - I laughed.

            The thing about working outside of academia is that almost NONE of the decision makers one comes across have the background knowledge or time to assess each proposal, suggestion, argument or bright idea on its technical merits (or otherwise). Having your particular views accepted is essentially a sales process, possibly with some internal politics throw in. It's not a detached and objective weighing of benefits, costs, feasibility and risk. The primary assessment is of the person, not the task.

            So, given that you are effectively trying to SELL your suggestion better than the proponents of all the alternatives are pitching theirs, what measures are likely (or: historically have been shown to be successful) to help you gain approval from a time-limited, risk averse and technically second-rate decision maker - possibly one whom you rarely have any contact with (presuming the idea you're proposing is big enough)?

            Might I suggest that as well as knowing what you're talking about - just like all your competitors do - that the appearance of professionalism and the flattery that you're taking the process seriously would certainly not harm your presentation. If you can achieve that in a scruffy pair of old jeans and a Primark teeshirt then good on you.

            To wind up, while I've taken an example of swaying the decision making process of a significant project here, people are judging you all the time at work. Maybe only in small ways and maybe they are people who are aware of your technical prowess. However, it's unlikely that you're the only person of any ability in your team, so what's wrong with boosting your profile by being both technically good AND presentable, both at the same time?

            1. Captain Underpants


              I don't disagree with you, exactly. You describe a very sensible pragmatist's approach to dealing with the current state of many (most?) businessplaces.

              I suspect, however, that you're at least partially missing the point made by Wozniak in the original article - namely that, if your goals as an organization are to promote free thinking and a creative approach to solving problems, enforcing a restrictive culture with a particular set of values on all employees is not necessarily going to be achieve those goals.

              Enforcing the long-standing convention that there is some sort of cargo-cult-like relationship between the attributes "Wears a suit" and "is a professional" doesn't *necessarily* do much to help this.

              You're right in saying that challenging the long-standing convention may prove difficult - but personally I have a problem with the idea of continuing an irrational convention just because it's easier than having to actually use our headmeat to think about things (and, more troublingly, justify our thought processes afterwards). There have been plenty of absolute bounders who wore suits - certainly more than enough to scientifically conclude that the theorem "Wearing a suit marks you out as a professional" is acceptable without further evidence only to the sort of intellect that genuinely believes they've just been offered a chance to purchase the Brooklyn Bridge or similar.

        4. MacGyver

          Do you like wearing a suit, or do you like to feel important by wearing a suit?

          A 3-piece suit has what, 5 layers of clothing, an undershirt, shirt, vest, jacket, then another thing wrapped around your neck. Are you planning to fix banking databases or prepping for your first walk outside the Lunar Lander?

          If you asked me what I was wearing at 10am without me being able to look, I couldn't tell you. I don't care, it doesn't matter. All that matters is if it was clean, and was hanging up in the closet.

          I'm not saying we should wear "Bikini Inspector" tee-shirts to work, just that we should be comfortable. Clothing should be clean and neat, and depending on who you interact with, maybe not carry any logos or words.

        5. Boothy Silver badge

          @ ken 16

          I don't care how they dress, as long as they can do their job.

          T-Shirts are the de-facto standard casual dress for just about everyone of every age, same goes for jeans too for that matter.

          In general, offices that have a more casual attitude to dress codes, tent to be much more pleasant places to work.

          And who's forcing you to wear one? Dress codes are usually a minimum code, not a max?

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ken 16

          The point that you, and in fairness the majority of posters here, have missed is that by not enforcing any kind of dress code (other than stipulating decency) allows for a more relaxed workforce, which in turn allows for a more productive workforce. If you feel more comfortable in a suit, then that's just peachy.

          "Do you want people to fix your banking database or dress up like students?" I couldn't give a fuck what they are wearing, so long as the end product was excellent. I certainly don't want the mindless corporate drones that currently proffer the absolute clusterfuck of shite that is online banking. With backward thinking like your statement, it's no wonder the UK is fucked.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh wow! It's soooo obvious

    Apple = Singapore.

    Pretty, functional, controlled.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      Apple = Singapore


      But with chewing gum (apple flavoured)

    2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      you forgot...

      It works well.


      Desirable to a good many (but not all).

      Inspires string feelings both for and against.

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    college dropouts

    For every crazy college drop out in designer glasses and a polo neck you need an awful lot of stay-in electronics engineers, production engineers, at ARM, Samsung, Hyundai etc to actually make the product happen

    Great quote heard on the BBC yesterday - "we need to encourage more people to get jobs working with their hands rather than going to university; we need more plumbers, carpenters, ENGINEERS "


    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      I have to work

      with engineers on what the robots are supposed to be making, and give me a degree qualified engineer whos worked with his hands on metal/plastic bashing any day of the week over some college kid who's designed something impossible to make*

      But then I'm only a factory worker so what do I know (apart from 3 CNC languages, Java and how to persude an industrial robot to make stuff instead of going on a random killing rampage)

      *Actually, nothing is impossible to make so long as you are prepared to pay for it

      1. CD001

        > how to persude an industrial robot to make stuff instead of going on a random killing rampage

        ... spoilsport :P

    2. Charles Manning

      Dropouts at Apple

      95% or more of the college drop outs working in Silicon Valley are janitors, waiters etc.

      Sure a few make it to the top, but most make it to the bottom.

  15. Jim 59

    Done is better than perfect

    Heard the interview. One phrase which resonated with me was "Done is better then perfect". Something to remember for us engineers. However, I wonder what would happen if you said that in an Apple interview ?

    Re counterculture - this might have had some truth when Steve was in his early 20s but the revolution is long over and informality is dominant. To be counter, you would have to wear a 3 piece suit and address your colleagues as "Mr...".

    1. CD001

      > To be counter, you would have to wear a 3 piece suit and address your colleagues as "Mr...".

      ... and is there a reason why you shouldn't, if you wanted to?

  16. ratfox

    Sports team?

    An anti-creative force?

    ...I am smelling bad memories from college.

  17. Zero Sum

    The Sixties are over, Woz.

    Is Woz suggesting that we need to be totally free of restrictions to be creative?

    That Bach and Jonathan Swift (and thousands of others in less permissive ages) would have been more productive wearing hoodies?

    Very poor reasoning.

    He takes a jibe at Singapore, and judges it on its small artistic output without considering the intellectual/creative work that turned this tiny backwater into a major port and business centre.

    Certainly, he has a point about the suffocating authoritarianism of that country, but that is not enough to support his suggestion that "All the creative elements seem to disappear."

    Is he really trying to tell us that creativity only exists with a counterculture ethos?

    He says:

    "Thinking for yourself is creativity and that's goes right down to what we were talking about dress, the clothing that you wear - you wear what you want to wear."

    No, Woz, you are thinking like a spoilt child.

  18. Nuke
    Thumb Down

    Translation Here

    Translation :- "Wosniak says we should all look like and act like Wozniak"

    Bollocks to that idea. One of the points about "uniforms" - like a grey suit - is that you <don't> have to worry about what you wear. You just throw on the same grey suit every morning, the style never changes, or changes very slowly. Clothes are not a distraction.

    Otherwise there is a clothing arms race. This month perhaps it's plain T shirts and baggy shorts, then they are "out" and next month it's Hawaian shirts and fawn slacks. Then it's T shirts with "green" slogans, after that it's T shirts with celebrity faces and so on and so on.

    It is a distraction. No, you don't have to follow it but people can feel uncomfortable if they don't, just as much as you can feel uncomfortable with a T shirt in a "suit" office. It cuts both ways.

    As for nationalism being counter-creative, history does not show that. The technical advances in WWII were phenomenal, as they were in the nationalistic space-race of the 1950-70s. Now that commercialism has superceded nationalism, we have become bogged down in patent issues and litigation-avoidance, like it or not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, there's nothing like the threat of being crushed under the despotic, evil boot of the Third Reich, or the chance of nuclear weapons vaporizing your family and flaying the flesh from your body, to give the ol' brain a shakeup, eh?

      Also, the people who were doing the most creative work during those times were given much more leeway than Joe Average doing drafting somewhere. They were the elite in their fields; it's not a 1:1 comparison with the average office by any means.

      Double-also, there are, by definition, a set of the most creative people of any time. The style could have been to wear chain mail and cast-iron Fedoras, and there would still have been SOME group of guys who were the MOST creative. The fact that there have been people in suits who did amazing things doesn't mean that the kind of clothing (or any other aspect of their environment, for that matter) is irrelevant.

      1. Nuke

        @ David W

        I did not say it was nice to live during WWII, I just said that there were phenomenal technical advances then.

        I am told it is (or was) nice to live in the South Pacific (plentiful food, sun, sea and sex), so much so that the HMS Bounty mutineers couldn't tear themselves away. But the only tech the South Sea islanders were ever really good at was making things out of flowers.

        I give you the Graham Greene quote from "The Third Man" :-

        " in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

        I don't understand your point in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. We are talking about the creativity of societies - no? There will always be individuals who are more creative, and others who are less, whether in WWII Germany or in 18th century Tahiti.

        Whether or not creativity gets anywhere depends on whether the ideas fall on fertile ground or stony ground. I like to think I am creative, and about 20 years ago, working for London Underground, I designed a new type of train suspension, one that would reduce wheel and rail wear (a major issue on the LU).

        However, those senior to me ignored the idea. But about 2 years later I read in The Railway International Journal that the Japanese had built a train with just such a suspension: they seem to have invented it independently, because my plan got no further than a filing cabinet. And people tell me that the Japanese are cleverer than us Europeans ......... no, they just have more fertile ground, and they don't much wear T shirts at work either.

  19. cosymart


    The T shirt becomes the uniform..... Wear a tie and you are "different".

  20. Christian Berger

    The truth is somewhere in between

    You neither need to much or to little structure. If you have to little structure, like in the company I work at, everything will move into un-creative chaos. Everything is governed by secret knowledge, which somebody has and somebody has written down 'somewhere' maybe.

    Just one example how to little structure can be a problem: Giving tasks to others is done by walking to that person and telling them. Of course the only feedback on the progress is to come back every few days to bother the employee. This creates tension and distraction.

    So you do need a bit of structure. Again computers can help with that, however you need people who have a grasp of that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or maybe

      Cart, horse...

      You can't be like Einstein by wearing your hear all crazy, or Steve Jobs by wearing Lee jeans and black turtlenecks, or Woz by beings slob

      ; )

      There are creative people who are orderly and dress neatly, and there are creative people who disorderly and unkempt. Style does not dictate substance.

  21. Charles Manning


    If it gets too big a counter-culture is still a culture.

    While I in no way think wearing ties is a good idea, I severely doubt that ditching ties and wearing Tshiirts is that much of a step towards success.

    Apple is incredibly straight-laced. Sure it isn't conforming to external norms but people have to conform to the Apple's internal norms. If they don't they get ostracized just as much.

  22. Combat Wombat

    I agree

    I f'ing hate ties.

    They are such a stupid anachronism in modern business.

    I am lucky enough to work in a company where I can just wear tee shirts. Albeit they are tee shirts with a small company logo, but that just makes dressing in the morning easier.

    Ties just get in the way, cut off the blood to the brain, pick up all the dropped food, and are just totally useless in the modern world.

    1. Geoff Campbell

      Your tie certainly seems to be cutting off the blood supply to your brain.

      In my more cynical moments, I reckon a well tailored suit and matching tie can add £3-500 to the day rate for consultancy jobs, and £1-200 to the day rate for longer term contracts. And some of us just look good in suits, you know?


    2. Hollerith 1

      Ah, you scorn your privilege

      I love wearing suits -- they are practical and easy and, as I get them tailored, they fit very comfortably. I can go into a meeting with clients or Execs and feel appropriate, and they like the fact that I can be presented to business guests at a moment's notice. I can do the same quality of work in a t-shirt and jeans, but the suit reminds me I work with corporate wonks, and to behave myself.

      I love ties, too. I have seen some that are real works of art. I would definitely wear them, if I could. Sadly, however, I would lose about £300 a day if I did, being female...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I agree with Hollerith... I would also add that wearing a suit to work helps me switch off when I get home because I know that when I'm in my suit, I'm working, when I'm in my scruffs, I'm not. If I work in my normal day-to-day clothes, it takes me much longer to switch off when I finish.

      2. Geoff Campbell

        Ties for the girls

        I was intrigued that both my daughters have to wear ties as part of their school uniform. I don't recall that when I was at school.


    3. BaronMatrix

      It sounds to me like you need little help cutting off the blood to your brain. Maybe if you all dressed better the divorce rate would be lower. It's easier to forgive someone who looks as though they have self-esteem than someone who looks HOMELESS.

  23. GotThumbs

    He forgot...where are the criminals?

    I respect Steve Wozniak and the significant contribution to apple and computing over all. (Jobs was just a good salesman, IMO)

    But don't shoot down an entire culture when we live in a society over run by criminals and illegals pouring into our country like leaches. There is a line between stifling creativity and letting kids run amuk amuk amuk.

    America is NOT anywhere close to being perfect don't throw stones at others.

  24. Shannon Jacobs

    Headline: "Lottery winner says you should play, too!"

    I do admire the Woz, but having read his book, I basically have to dismiss him as a lottery winner who is telling other people to play. He wasn't the only guy with the idea of creating a personal computer. Yes, he had some good ideas, but good ideas are a nickel a dozen. He wasn't even the only guy working like crazy to create the products based on those ideas. There are other elements of timing, knowing the right people (mostly Steve Jobs in his case), incompetence and bad decisions by the competition (mostly IBM in those days), and just plain luck (in business but also as in surviving his airplane crash).

    I think they should do lottery advertising the same way they do the lottery itself. Instead of seeing the winner of the lottery talking about how happy he is, you should have a lottery on the advertisement. For example, you might have a million chances to see an ad featuring one of the losers and only one chance to see the winner.

  25. jungle_jim

    i have lived in singapore for a month and a half now....

    everyone has a car? fuck off mate, you need some serious money to get a car.... The certificate of entitlement alone costs in excess of 10K sgd.... and it only lasts 10 years.

    doesn't stop me seeing several super cars every day mind you.

    they must be doing something right here.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Wow... seems like here are many more comments from people railing against what they -think- Mr. Wozniac said than comments about what he -did- say. Saying "people should be allowed to choose their work clothes" is very different from "people are required to wear appropriately hip clothes". He didn't say anything about counterculture at all, really; the issues aren't even plotted on the same graph:

    (1) restriction of choice to arbitrary point b, by an authority

    (2) pressure to choose arbitrary point c, by social grouping or circles of friends

    The fact that some people take advantage of the freedom from a loosened (1) so they can subsequently be coerced to point c in (2) does not make a very harsh (1) good, nor does it mean that advocating for a less harsh (1) is the same as saying that (2) is good. This is a common fallacy ('you support rights of defendants at trial; a man on trial is accused of my father's murder; therefore you must support murder... now you must die').

    The assumption that Woz means "Everyone wear snarky anti-establishment t-shirts! Fight the man, man!" because he thinks people shouldn't be required to wear suits is absurd.

    Also absurd is the idea that the lack of a dress code automatically means an arduous morning search for just the right shirt is absurd. If I worked at a place where a switch was made, I'd probably wear what I do now - jeans and a t-shirt mostly; jeans and a button down shirt in summer, and the reverse in winter. This is not because I feel that I need to conform to cool by wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It is because I find them comfortable.

    There needs to be some self-reflection among the most reactionary here, perhaps.

    BTW, speaking of ties... back in the '60s or so, my dad worked at a place called Facet, engineering fuel pumps. He worked in a lab with this German guy, maybe in his '60s, who was the quintessential absent-minded professor. For example, upon arriving at work one morning, he got out of his car, left the door open and the engine running, and had to be chased down by a secretary.

    At any rate, one day in the lab, Professor Absent was soldering away at a test board. In those days, -everybody- wore a suit, so as bent over to solder, his tie would drift down in front of him. Eventually, the inevitable happened; the end of his tie got too cozy with the soldering iron tip, and commenced combustion.

    The professor, though, remained nonplussed. As my father observed, Absent strolled around he room, going about his work, as the flame front crept up his tie.

    As the fire started to grow in ernest, though, even Absent started to notice. He finally stopped in his tracks, lifted his head curiously, and said, with a lazy, thoughtful air and the best kind of German accent: "Zomezing ees burrrning..."

    It took him a bit of looking before he noticed the smoldering neckpiece below, but he was, naturally, made of sterner stuff than a tie fire could upset. He snagged a pair of scissors, and, over the nearest garbage can, sliced off the incendiary tie below the knot.

    So, if you ever detect the faint odor of smoke, spare a thought for my dad's almost-certainly-long-gone compatriot, and thoughtfully intone, in your best German accent, "Zommmm-zing ees burr-neeng..."

  27. dogged

    I'm in Singapore right now

    And ties are pretty rare. Shirts and trousers are the norm.

    The ladies dress far better - you see some pretty jaw-dropping outfits out here.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I live in Singapore

    Woz clearly doesn't. But my point is that to say religion stifles creativity is to ignore the many thousands of years of art treasure evidence to the contrary.

  29. toadwarrior
    Thumb Up

    are you people stupid?

    Is everyone in here that threatened by his way of life or can you simple not read? He said wear what you want to wear. Not that wearing a tshirt makes you a genius.

    His point is they don't get to choose. If they could choose maybe they'd wear a suit but maybe they wouldn't.

    There is some truth to what he says. That's why apple has awesome design and windows is borrowing ideas and implementing them ugly and pc hardware makers still make pig ugly hardware most of the time.

    1. CD001

      While I agree that many people have got the wrong end of the stick about what he said, you get a -1 for not having stepped out of Mac-world for the past decade; you've probably never heard of Lian Li.

      (as an aside, I find the greyness of OSX the perfect example of insipid, lazy design - grey goes with everything - and it's really, really boring - so there :P)

    2. Stevie Silver badge


      "Awesome design". Keep saying it, and it may come true.

      All through the late 90s/early oughties I was being told this, then I had the "good" fortune to have to attempt repair on my brother-in-law's G4.


      Awesome case design - actually pretty much the same as a bottom-end "suitcase" Dell except that the heaviest thing in the case, the power supply, was hung by two screws (the PS mounting flange had four holes, but the case chassis was drilled for two in a classic bodge) with a one-foot acceleration drop over the most delicate thing, the motherboard.

      Awsome electronics - Said power supply contained no (0) changeable fuses, so a power surge took it out just like it would have done to a PC Server one, but at three times the replacement cost. The bios battery was an unusual design too, and rather than the 5 dollar disc affair found in the terrible PC and available in any supermarket was an 18 dollar cylindrical thing I had to find a specialist electronics store to buy it from.

      Awesome accessory design: The mouse cable broke due to mishandling by the owner who though Apple built to last, and because the mouse was weld-glued together rather than screwed I couldn't fix it. The three tonne monitor broke it's flimsy futuristic stand made of materials fundamentally unable to withstand the torque resulting from the crazy design when I looked askance at it one day. I splinted it with aluminum but recommended wooden blocks to take the weight (I call them iBlox and can manufacture them to order if you have a saggy G4 monitor).

      Awesome OS. During the aforementioned pre-OSX days I was harangued on a regular basis by those who claimed this was a "better" OS than Windows. Things they didn't mention at the time included the three separate and unintegrated help systems that make looking for anything a nightmare (cf Windows 95 - single point of entry for help), no standard hot-key GUI navigation I could find or dig out of the help systems (cf Windows 95 hot keys) and most infuriatingly, the feature that had the OS crash if the mouse pointer hovered over an icon too long (which I found was a known issue once I knew about it myself).

      Awesome lack of obsolescence. Well, you don't need to change an Apple when software advances these days (not true of the OS 9 era though). You might if you need more memory, to judge by the tales of former iMac owners I know personally. But should you need a replacement part for your old mac, good luck. That mouse I talked about earlier had to be replaced via eBay because it wasn't "cool" any more.

      Awesome handles on the case - that one is true. You can get a really good grip on a G4 when you want to hurl the bag of crap out of your house and at the person who brought it to you.

      Apple sell a rebranded Unix in a computer that is essentially a PC with 2000 dollars of your money stapled to the case. I know what I'd do if I really liked OSX, but then, I can always use 2000 dollars.

      The iPad *is* awesome though.

      1. unitron

        Re: MS hot keys

        Yeah, Win95 had hot keys, some of which were the same as the ones everybody had just learned in Windows 3.1, and when they brought out Windows 98 they only changed some of them from what they were in 95, and XP even left some of the ones from 98 unchanged.

  30. John Dickson

    Had the disconcerting impression at a German R&D campus that everyone was wearing the exact same jeans

    1. Frank 2


      How on earth did they all fit?

      1. Ramazan

        @How on earth did they all fit

        In a serial fashion, presumably

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I find it helps to wear a Nazi uniform to work, everyone starts doing what I tell them!

  32. HP Cynic

    It's not about rebellions it's about not wearing shirts (which are stuffy) and ties (which are throttling and serve ABSOLUTELY NO PURPOSE).

  33. Anonymous Coward


    See, the difference with Singapore is that in the West, the government regulates how companies flog products to consumers, and in Singapore, the government just flogs the consumers.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ultimately , we all conform

    The myriad of corporate policies, annual appraisals, mandatory training (to cover someone else's arse when the real Feds come knocking) and IT and safety regulations ensure the requisite level of compliance is extracted, no matter how we dress.

    12 million merits to go for me! Still, I'm happy enough. A wrong turn could have meant a life of shovelling shit. IT type work for "big corp" and decent holidays in nice places beats shovelling shit any day of the week. Oh, and it suits someone to let me dress however I like (though I have it on good authority they draw the line at a mankini). So, mustn't grumble.

  35. glenalec

    I work in a Creative Arts faculty at a university

    I am the only person who wears a uniform (the one I used to wear when I was in the IT dept, with a new iron-on department label). It makes me stand out.

  36. AceVentura
    Thumb Down

    This jerk is quite right...Singapore does not condone bad behaviors, so...

    We don't go around fabricating lies to attack another country.

    We don't go round overthrowing governments we don't like.

    We don't go round killing and bombing innocent civilians and called it war collateral.

    We don't engage in hypocrisies and double standards.

    We don't impose our ways of life on others, as though we are the supreme ones!

    And for that, we know we can never be as bad as what this jerk claims! We are quite proud of it though, and we also believe in retribution.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Of course - why bother oppressing and torturing other countries' citizens when you can do your own? The logistics are just -so- much simpler. Plus, after your citizens are convinced that constriction of freedom is the same thing as stability and security, you can brutally exploit a silent underclass of desperate poor in order to prop up your joyous self-image. Seems that "We're prosperous and secure" covers a lot of problems, eh?

      "Your government censors videos, books, and newspapers." "But we're prosperous and secure!"

      "Your government regulates minutiae of every day life and punishes small infractions brutally.

      "But we're prosperous and secure"

      "Your government provides no help for the unacknowledged and poverty-stricken, who are unable to survive due to a nonexistent social safety net. "But we're pro.. we're prosperous... we're prosperous and secure!"

      "We make it impossible to leave the country unless you have a lot of money." "But that's not infringing on freedom, it's perfect to live here!"

      The last one, actually, is a nearly direct quote from a Singaporean I spoke with. He eventually just left, I suspect because I had gotten him to say that preventing people from buying certain movies wasn't censorship. We're prosperous and secure!

      As I've said to people sometimes - there are a few places I would feel very, very uncomfortable visiting when travelling on business: Russia, Brazil, and Singapore are near the top.

      I'd feel much more comfortable in China, actually - China's oppression is a means to an end, a way to stay in power and keep the country itself powerful. In Singapore, it seems like it's because they *really think it's right*. They control or manipulate every aspect of their citizens' lives specifically in order to create the people they think should exist. They don't manage the environment the people live in, they manage the *people*. The environment is incidental; you put what you want there, like with those logs you put in a fish tank. And people really start to believe that they live in a free country, when it's objectively untrue. That's what's so damn creepy about it.

      The US isn't perfect what with our occasional jackboot thomps and extranational gun-enforced policy implementations, but at least we fight about it and acknowledge it. The day you say there's nothing wrong (or only token things wrong) with your country is the day it's crossed the tipping point of their being something very, VERY wrong with your country.

  37. AceVentura

    Just to address some post who criticized others but shows their clear ignorance, arrogance and false sense of superiority, just see for yourself what fellow Americans had confessed, that's the kind of behavior to be proud of?

    The terror that US inflict on others...behaviors that had made it the number one "legitimate" terrorist in the world -

    "The US isn't perfect what with our occasional jackboot thomps and extranational gun-enforced policy implementations, but at least we fight about it and acknowledge it."...sure, and repeating the same atrocities again and again...charging others for war crimes and oblivious to own terrors and crimes? So, this are behaviors that Americans are proud of?

    It still amazed me that there are still so many self-centered, obnoxious but highly ignorant people living in US, but I guess it is proven by the article and the many posters here!

    They go to every part of the world using their standards and values on others. They believe if others do not go with the way Americans believe in, they are oppressive and dictatorial. They think that America’s system is the world system, and they think that everyone ought to think and behave like them, else they are outcast.

    You can see such Americans here through their “out-of-the-box” thinking like it is OK to kill others we don’t like, as long as we don’t kill our own people.

    No wonder Americans are so universally hated the world around, and why people around the world are raising-up against their ideological tyranny and their "behaviors"!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, there's nothing I like better than to head out to another country, find someone I disagree with, and kill them. Makes my whole day.

      The funny thing is that you appear to think that admitting that your country does something is the same as supporting it.

      That, combined with your apparent inability to view the country as debating within itself about its actions, suggests to me that you're actually not capable of viewing the individual separately from the state.

      I'll take a hell of a lot of negatives before I let myself slide down that path. One -hell- of a lot.

      As for your last sentence, I'm not even sure what to say... Universally? Then why does my company sell all over the world, and why do I hear my customers regularly speak highly of the US, in a way not required by corporate etiquette?

      Like I said, the world isn't black and white. Look for some grey, Ace. Oh, that reminds me: you DO know that you, hater of everything to do with the USA, have named yourself after a character in an American movie played by an American, which was rather popular in worldwide release - despite the fact that it was made by universally hated, ignorant, self-centered, obnoxious, oppressive, dictatorial murderers?

      I mean, just for consistency's sake...

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