back to article Steve Wozniak at 70: Here's to the bloke behind Apple who wasn't a complete... turtleneck

Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and star engineer of the personal computer revolution, turns 70 today. How do you sum up such a storied career, which continues to touch facets of our daily lives? We should start at the beginning. Wozniak's early work was the result of an inquisitive hacker mindset. He said he bailed out of his …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. chuckufarley Silver badge

    One Hundred Times, Thank You, Woz!

    10 LET X = 0

    20 X = X + 1

    30 PRINT "Thank You, Woz!"

    40 IF X = 100 THEN END

    50 GOTO 20

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: One Hundred Times, Thank You, Woz!

      Youngsters these days!

      10 FOR X = 1 TO 100

      20 PRINT “Thank You, Woz!"

      30 NEXT X

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: One Hundred Times, Thank You, Woz!

      Small piece of nitpicking: There were no lower case letters originally on the Apple ][.

      But I like the sentiments!

    3. Wilco

      Re: One Hundred Times, Thank You, Woz!

      Even Apple basic had a FOR loop:

      10 FOR a = 1 TO 100

      20 PRINT "Thank You, Woz!"

      30 NEXT a


  3. Anonymous Coward

    Woz not Jobs

    Woz, not Jobs, and certainly not Ivy or Cook, embodied the promise of Apple back when it was developer focused rather than Jobs' and Ivy's design studio or Cook's money machine.

    He was and is a giant in computing.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Woz not Jobs

      What shape would you say the 'promise of Apple' had then, and in what way did it fail to materialise, as you suggest? And are we poorer for it? Genuine questions, because I'm interested in your views and your answers.

      Focusing on developers in important, but ultimately developers don't exist in a vacuum - their efforts can only be judged in the context of bringing benefit to users or aiding worthwhile tasks - and of course enthusing budding developers so that they play and learn and then can use their skills productively. A holistic view of these interactions and interrelations is beneficial.

      Computers other than Apples were available in the 1980s, and home-brewed software still occured and left a legacy. At the same time, people who weren't devs - artists, musicians, for example - got to harness computers in a different way. A while later, some fella at CERN found Jobs' non-Apple computer a useful development platform.

      So, are we that poor today? Could we have been richer if events had played out differently? I find these these questions, and different approaches to answering them, more interesting than the answers.

      1. chuBb.

        Re: Woz not Jobs

        Woz's vision -> democratize computers, bring the utility to the masses, push the available tech to its limits, think laterally and solve problems in alternative ways.

        Jobs vision -> push as many boxes as possible, ride woz's abilities, give lip service to his philosophies to keep him on board, jettison once your sucessful enough to iterate on bullet point distinctions between SKU's and gouge on price, turn the democracy to a captive dictatorship, bang on about past sucesses, return and punt shitty all in one funny coloured plastic boxes to people who then find word doesnt run and they bought the wrong one, until the ipod came out

        I do wonder how much the inertia to genuine change and improvement for humans not shareholders was stiffled by a lack of a woz at the forefront pushing the competition harder in non obvious directions; my bet is personal networking, privacy and data sharing controls, and touch (ignoring manufacturing advances im talking gestures and haptics) would be 20 years on from where it is today

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Woz not Jobs

          Woz's vision -> democratize computers, bring the utility to the masses, push the available tech to its limits, think laterally and solve problems in alternative ways.

          And preferably as cheap as possible.

          One good example is formed by the Apple floppy disk drives. Those lacked a sensor for the head to see at what track it was (too expensive), so on boot the head would move 40 tracks in one direction (while there were originally only 36 used), so the position was established. Afterward the position was kept in memory.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: Woz not Jobs

            Yep; that's why the drives had that infamous knock during post. also explains why a good number of them went out of alignment, too.

            1. Black Betty

              Re: Woz not Jobs

              Never had one lose alignment. Now wandering spindle speed, that was a bit of an issue since all read and write timing was in software and thus locked to the system clock at the bit level.

          2. Black Betty

            Re: Woz not Jobs

            Not just a sensor. Disk ][ drives and their controllers lacked 90% of the chips and other support hardware present in contemporary disk drives. Instead everything, right down to the level of reading and writing individual bits was done using very clever code built around the exact timing of individual microprocessor instructions.

            1. W.S.Gosset

              Re: Woz not Jobs


              Woz's floppy disc controller is to this day held up as the very acme of awe-inspiring intelligent design. The ultimate parsimony.

              As I heard him say in person: he had to do less with more, all through his early days. And as his standards grew but his budget didn't...

              He necessarily got in the habit of designing everything in his head, and taking out everything he could.

              His floppy controller was, is, and remains astounding, for it working faster and better than anything else, and for what is NOT there -- for everything he took OUT.

      2. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

        Re: Woz not Jobs

        @Dave 126

        Does more. Costs less. Is that simple

        That aged as well as "Don't do evil". Or as milk behind a radiator.

      3. Uffish

        Re: Woz not Jobs

        Dave 126, you say "Focusing on developers in important, but ultimately developers don't exist in a vacuum - their efforts can only be judged in the context of bringing benefit to users or aiding worthwhile tasks...". Are you saying that creative engineers are worthless unless they support a business enterprise? If not what are you saying? Genuine question etc.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Woz not Jobs

      and back in the 1970's, he ran "Dial a Joke" with an answering machine. The last time I called it, 1973-ish, he picked up, and I said something like "Is this Dial-A-Joke" and he laughed and said "yes, let me hook up the machine, just call back" (or something like that). I guess he had considered not supporting it any more, being too busy with whatever it was in 1973...

      Usually went something like this (in a strange fake-accent voice)

      "'Ah 'Ah, Thenk you for dialing Dial-A-Joke! Todayz Joke eez: [insert silly joke]"

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Woz not Jobs

      Jobs was a salesman, a very good one, but didn't know a thing about computers save how to use them. That shows with the Apple III and other failed Apple projects.

      What did the Iphone did that no one else was doing? Combine a PDA with a Cellphone and make it look cool, unlike previous attempts that looked horrible.

      He... he was a very stubborn person, it was always his way no matter what.

      Cue the downvotes.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        "Cue the downvotes"

        I don't think this is an opinion that'll get many downvotes in a Reg forum ;-)


      2. TXITMAN

        Re: Woz not Jobs

        There are lots of amazing projects that would have changed the world now gathering dust in garages all over the world for the lack of a Steve Jobs.

        1. Blackjack Silver badge

          Re: Woz not Jobs

          Apple did not invent the personal computer, they just sold it already assembled.

          What made the Apple II such a big success was a combination of prize, coming pre assembled and Job salesman skills. Plus the fact it was not that hard to program for, schools bought it and the games ended being pirated.

          I am not gonna deny that having even one of those things in your school turned many people into wanting to be programers or wanting to repair computers or wanting to work for Apple.

          Jobs main job was to make Apple products look cool and disposable hence why he made so many choices that were horrible on hindsight.

          But when he hit the jackpot? People loved him and were willing to ignore him being a jerk.

          Unfortunately he was good, but he was not always right, hence why he had to take a "Time Out" of Apple for a while.

          1. W.S.Gosset

            Re: Woz not Jobs

            Key detail re Apple II success:

            a KEY part of its major early take-up was their observation in computer shops (they used to exist, back then) that all the other computers' demo boxes were stuffed every day by kids messing them up.

            So they made a special read-only floppy that the shops could just stick in and restart with. The shop guys loved it. Kid's messed up the computer? Just stick the demo disk in and push the power button. Bingo.

            So the only computer you ever saw working properly when you walked in to check out the options, was the Apple.


            Source: Woz, verbal reminiscences at event in Oxford.

  4. 2StrokeRider

    Woz is the Icon for many of us engineers. Way back in the 90's I emailed him, we were in some group together, can't remember what it was. I was doing network engineering at the time. We had a nice email exchange, truly a nice gentleman who seemed to still really enjoy talking shop. Fitting for the Reg to recognize him. Woz, to your next 70 years!!

  5. jake Silver badge

    Woz is 70? Furrfu!

    Gawd/ess, but we're getting old ...

    Happy birthday, brother.

  6. Graybyrd

    Woz: Spirit of Hypercard

    Woz was the spirit of Hypercard, the software Erector set that let everyone devise their own solution to personal information problems. For a time it came free (free as in 'beer') to Apple users. For a time, it sparked a huge groundswell of educational and home "stacks" for everything from cookbooks to lesson plans and geography almanacs. Then Steve Jobs killed it. And he lied about killing it. The word was, he despised the "tasteless" outpouring of some users.

    And a huge part of the wistful dream that a personal computer could be malleable to the average non-programmer, home or schoolroom user, died when Jobs killed Hypercard and any follow-ons that might have been.

    I used Hypercard, a lot. And loved it. And never forgave Jobs for his vindictive dishonesty. And never trusted Apple again, except to do the avaricious thing. Woz is right: most things are far more valuable than making gobs of money. It's how one goes about it that counts.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Woz: Spirit of Hypercard

      Anyone who would be happy to sell a computer without any command line interface (even one hidden away just in case) or tell you that the expensive 128K machine you just bought was a dead end and those who wanted 512K memory should just buy a new one would obviously kill off Hypercard without a second thought. Jobs has always been about appliances and the present-day unexpandable unfixable pretty-looking Mac line along with iPhones and iPads is just a continuation of that philosophy.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Woz: Spirit of Hypercard

      Here is an okay article about Hypercard:

      I never used it, but looks like it would have been fun.

  7. Danny 5


    Jobs is a big reason I despise apple to this day, Wozniak is the reason I used to respect them.

    Jobs got all the credits, but Wozniak was the real brains behind the operation, Jobs was just a marketing guy (and an all round asshole).

    1. chuBb.

      Re: Apple

      Couldnt agree more re woz, though i disagree on your last sentance

      It should be: "Jobs got all the credits, but Wozniak was the real brains behind the operation, Jobs was just an asshole, so qualified as the marketing guy."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple

      The sad truth is that Woz would have been forgotten without Jobs.

      Loads of people were building computers back then by simply wiring together off the shelf chips. Woz didn’t do anything particularly special.

      He may have been an ahole but the marketing guy was the one who ultimately brought in the money.

      1. Alister

        Re: Apple

        Woz didn’t do anything particularly special.

        Right. Like reducing the chip-count on an Atari game console by designing the board to use DRAM instead of shift-registers, or designing and building the Apple 1 hardware, and writing the software, all by himself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple

          Sure - but lots of people were doing that type of thing (and still are). Who was the inventor of the C64? The Atari 2600? Etc...

          Woz is remembered because of Jobs... and more: only because he had a falling out with Jobs (and Jobs was right...)

          1. ChrisC Silver badge

            Re: Apple

            Does it matter who they are? I didn't go into engineering as a career in order to become famous - as a stereotypical introvert engineer, the idea of becoming a recognisable face whilst out and about would fill me with dread. And I suspect the same is true for many of my engineering brethren.

            What matters are the products we create - the average person in the street might not know who designed the C64 or Atari 2600, or even a whole bunch of other more recent products that are even more widely known (e.g. whichever mobile phone they own and interact with every day), but they *do* know about the products themselves. And in the case of things like the Apple II, the C64 etc, they've become icons of the early home computing scene, known and beloved around the world, and still with active user communities.

            To have been responsible for something like that, now *that's* the sort of payback an engineer might quite like to receive for their career efforts, even whilst remaining solidly anonymous.

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Apple

            Who was the inventor of the [...] the Atari 2600?

            Someone called Jay Miner, don't know if you've heard of him.

            1. Mike 16

              Re: inventor of the [...] the Atari 2600?

              You can add Steve Mayer, Ron Milner, Joe deCuir, and probably others. Success has many fathers..."

              Note that this article follows the traditional path of ignoring Ron Wayne, in re Apple.

              In the last 15 or so years I have noticed that Silicon Valley has swung quite sharply from recognizing great engineers/designer and toward celebrating "great corporations" (and their often rapacious heads).

              (Pedantry alert: At the time, it was called the VCS. After Warner and their product marketing folks got on board, it became the 2600)

      2. Tom Graham

        Re: Apple


        The Apple II brought in the money, and Jobs had zero to do with creating it.

        The Apple II beat all of those "loads of people wiring together off the shelf chips" because of Woz's engineering genius that made the computer more efficient, cheaper to produce and more powerful.

        Jobs created the Apple III, Lisa and Macintosh (not actually technically designed obviously) - all of which were commercial failures.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple

          Apple Mac a failure? Ok.

          1. chuBb.

            Re: Apple

            failed to sell, took many reductions in price to clear initial inventory, then failed to be upgraded by users often enough to make back the money investors thought they would, basically a commercial failure, not even a rounding error compared to sales of IBM compatible PC's, which was why jobs got the boot and went off to make angle poise lights dance

            Only reason its look backed on fondly is tech writers in the cult of apple like to ignore all the stolen ideas of the UI from xerox, and it makes a slightly less dull museum peice than a beige box ibm

            1. Mike Moyle

              Re: Apple

              "... tech writers in the cult of apple like to ignore all the ideas of the UI from xerox that Apple were given in exchange for company stock..."


              1. Steve Todd

                Re: Apple

                Also Apple put a LOT of work into developing the GUI into something usable (things like partially obscured windows redrawing themselves, standards for app design etc). The Apple manuals of the time were pretty much the bible For developers on how to design and build GUI systems.

          2. Marty McFly Silver badge

            Re: Apple

            Shall I dig my Mac+ out of the attic and show you where I had to replace all the capacitors & voltage regulators on the power board because Apple used cheap crappy ones? Well known problem back in the day - as the Mac warmed up it would get flaky because the power would start to vary. If the nominal 5v supple fell below 4.5v then reboot!

            Sure, a marketing success. But an engineering charlie-foxtrot.

            The inside of the case has all their signatures embossed in the plastic too. So it was literally 'signed off' by Steve & Steve.

            1. Steve Todd

              Re: Apple

              Pretty much ANY machine of the period needed to be recapped. The original Mac didn’t sell as well as Apple had hoped, but the Mac line continued to build momentum and the company did rather well from it (until management stuffed things up for them, like the ill fated move into licensing clones.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Apple

                Yeah, back then the phrase "I'm going to put a couple caps in it" was fairly normal, and didn't (usually) result in a quick call to security ... There was another batch of bad caps in the '99 through '07 era, or thereabouts. In '08 a friend was overheard to suggest I "put a cap in it", regarding a particularly pissy power supply. The "well meaning"[0] manager called security, who called the cops. We weren't taken downtown, but the rest of the building was quietly evacuated around my lab, and we were close to getting cuffed before sanity returned to the scene.

                [0] For "well meaning" read "nosy know-it-all busy-body". She was actually commended for causing a panic and half a day's loss of productivity! The mind boggles ...

                1. dak

                  Re: Apple

                  Could someone please explain why "putting a cap" in something may be thought undesirable? I am completely baffled.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Apple

                    It's a popular slang phrase for shooting someone. Apparently some daft moron in the public eye decided that a real gun was just like a cap gun. Then idiots took the term and ran with it, seemingly not caring how stupid they sound when they use it.

                    1. dak

                      Re: Apple

                      Thank you. The only thing I could think of was a cap gun, but you have explained it perfectly.

              2. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Apple

                The complaint that was it even caused problems back then when they were released, not that they need recapping now.

                1. Steve Todd

                  Re: Apple

                  When they were released they were under warranty, so were repaired or replaced if faulty. Many other machines of the period had a high failure rate (a friend at the time went through 11 Sinclair Spectrum machines under warranty). Your point was?

                  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                    Re: Apple

                    You'd expect a better build quality from a Macintosh than a Spectrum.

            2. TXITMAN

              Re: Apple

              Bad caps happen on a regular basis. Good thing we still have people that are willing to repair rather than toss.

              Dell had a huge problem with chlorine contaminated caps not long ago. My most expensive prized radio needs new caps right now. I saved the day by replacing a capacitor on a critical device that was long out of support... And that is just how it goes.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. W.S.Gosset

          Re: Apple

          Actually, Jobs fought tooth &nail to kill the Macintosh.

          It was only after he got rolled and sidelined by the corporate parasites he brought in because That's High Status, that he drifted around internally for a while, found something actually charging (despite his efforts), and shoved himself in on top of it.

      3. chuBb.

        Re: Apple

        Nope, it was the gestating VC community in the valley that brought in the money, all the ex fairchild then intel engineers who invested in Woz's tech and got apple rolling, jobs was just a travelling sales man and bullshit monger with a napoleon complex and liberal attitude to plagerism (not at all unlike a certain mr gates either) and contractual obligations.

        In my opinion apple could have been so much more than the digital upgrade to crayon botherers that it was before it became a consumer electronics brand and actually used in anger in business rather than the mood board brigade, if such a pretentious smug high on the bouquet of their own farts smarmy arse wasnt pushing him self front and centre to be the face of the company.

        Put annother way, jobs was only able to sell to creatives and the gullible, the scientists, business people and engineers saw through his flim flam

        1. Mike Moyle

          Re: Apple

          "Put annother way, jobs was only able to sell to creatives and the gullible, the scientists, business people and engineers saw through his flim flam"

          Not according to Larry Tessler:

        2. W.S.Gosset

          Re: Apple

          Actually, Apple got its BIG initial rev-up from the banks. You would literally see traders running round with their Apple II under their arms.


          Spreadsheet. World's first useful spreadsheet.

          The traders started, with Their Model. Then risk management discovered it. Then back office. Then accounting. Then... off it went, off into the wider general business world.


          Essentially everything you've written here is a mad retcon.

      4. Steve Todd

        There’s a quote:

        An engineer is a person who can build for $1 what any damned fool can build for $5.

        The genius of Woz is his ability to make something with the minimum number of parts and effort. There were others of the time who were hacking together machines, but Woz worked out how to give the public more for less.

        Examples were generating NTSC colour video via deliberate artefacts in a mono picture, using the video system to generate refresh signals to DRAM and designing a floppy disk controller with 1/10th of the chips of then current designs (and that was just for the Apple II).

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: There’s a quote:

          The Heathkit H11 (contemporary with the Apple II) was a 16-bit home computer in the days of 8-bit computers ... The Apple I is an interesting historical curiosity, but it was hardly lusted after .... even when it was new.

          1. joejack

            Re: There’s a quote:

            The Heathkit H11 probably couldn't play Pitfall ][ though.

          2. hayzoos

            Re: There’s a quote:

            While the Heathkit H11 may have been more technically advanced, two issues were largely responsible for limiting it's potential. Number one: it was a kit computer which at the time was not out of the ordinary, but was "the old way". Number two: cost, for as much work as one had to put into assembly, it was expensive. It could be purchased assembled for even more.

            The Apple ][ was about the same cost, but was plug and play by standards of the day.

            The Apple II series played a significant role in my career development. I really dug into low level technical aspects. I learned a lot studying the details. In a roundabout way Woz was a mentor of mine. My uncle beat him to the punch though, introducing me to electronics (tube/valve and solid state), a Timex Sinclair 1000, and a Bally programmable home game system whilst I was in the 3 bit age range.

            Thank you Mister Wozniak for your contributions to the personal computer revolution. I hope your birthday observation was a happy one.

            1. TXITMAN

              Re: There’s a quote:

              Everything has its place. Helping build and building computers like the H11 as a teen was my pathway to learn digital electronics.

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: There’s a quote:

              On day of issue, the Heathkit kit was $1,295, the assembled version was $300 more.

              When the Apple II debuted, it was also $1,295 ... however that was some 8 months after the H11 had first come come out. By this time, the assembled Heath was in the $1,350 range and had twice the RAM of the Apple.

              My Father was an Engineer at Philco in Palo Alto ... He introduced me to the wonderful world of Television, starting in the very early 1960s. My gear-head uncle taught me about cars & motorcycles ... and his sideline, fixing pinball machines.

              Dad advised me against purchasing an Apple I, PET, or any of the other toy 8-bit computers ... said they weren't very useful. Then one day Dad came home from work with a copy of Interface Age which had an advert for a 16-bit Heath H-11 and said "Now THIS is a worthwhile home computer!". We built most of it in my apartment in Mountain View, but for reasons I can't remember (better fume extraction?) we boiled the boards on Mom's stove ... she still hasn't forgiven us.

              The kit came with a 256k 8-inch single sided drive. I sprung for a second drive for the low, low price of $500 when purchased with the kit ... and later I had paper tape (PC11), cards (CR11), and later still a removable media hard drive (RK05) and DECtape (TU56). The H11 is probably the single best tool I ever invested in ... at least in the computer world. 40+ years on and she still boots and is still teaching kids how computers really work ...

              DEC gear was, and remains, the single best teaching environment for learning the concepts of computing. Shame the franchise was squandered away.

          3. Steve Todd

            Re: There’s a quote:

            The H11 was $1295 for a kit comprising of just the CPU and 4K of RAM. You needed an external terminal and an IO card on top of that as a minimum to make it do anything.

            The Apple II was the same price, but all you needed to make it work was a TV and a cassette player. For that reason it sold very well to hobbyists. Following the creation of VisiCalc on the II it’s sales to companies skyrocketed.

            The H11 may have had an existing library of software (PDP11 code, on paper tape), but it was much more expensive and took more time and effort to get it to the point it could do useful work, and it didn’t support memory mapped video so was incapable of many of the things that the Apple II became famous for even though it had a more powerful CPU.

            1. vtcodger Silver badge

              Re: There’s a quote:

              I was as impressed as anyone here with the Apple II hardware. Wozniac's Apple II disc controller -- a half dozen commodity TTL (RTL?) chips that somehow interfaced to an analog device. And it worked. Four decades later, I remember looking at an Apple II disk controller board, and sort of figuring out how it might work. I was utterly astonished. So count me as a Woz fan.

              But I think it interesting that this seems to be the only post that mentions the application that truly separated the Apple II from the crowd of assorted computing devices that were available back in early PC days. Visicalc actually did something unique and useful. And until Lotus-123 was launched in 1983, it was, so far as I know, the only spreadsheet show in town.

              I speak from personal experience -- trying to run an office using Apple IIs (not my idea). Other than Visicalc, the available Apple II software was absolutely awful. The word-processors sucked. The leading spell-checker wasn't quite that bad -- as long as you never, ever fed it a file longer than 64K bytes -- which it would promptly trash. IMO, without Visicalc, the Apple II was a hobbiest only computer. And probably not the most cost effective choice for many/most hobbiests.

              My life became vastly easier when we switched to PC clones, MSDOS, Word Perfect, etc -- stuff that (mostly) worked when used by normal people.

              1. Steve Todd

                Re: There’s a quote:

                The H11 had the same 64K memory limit, and at the time 64K was prohibitively expensive. The machines of the day were restricted in their capabilities mainly by what you could afford (and this tended to lead to some very creative programming to get around).

                Sure, the IBM (and clones) broke that limit, but it wasn’t around at the time so whatever companies had available to them was necessarily limited.

                It wasn’t until the late 80’s that network hardware and hard disks became at all affordable and running an office around PCs became reasonably practical.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: There’s a quote:

                "Visicalc actually did something unique and useful. And until Lotus-123 was launched in 1983, it was, so far as I know, the only spreadsheet show in town."

                Just so you know, Supercalc pre-dates Lotus 1-2-3 by 3 years.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: There’s a quote:

                  Visicalc lives on, sort of, and with a nod to Supercalc, as sc.

                  From your Linux shell prompt:

                  $ sc /usr/lib/sc/

                  Hint: works best at 80x24, adjust your terminal emulator accordingly.

                  If you run a small business or two, sc's a lot more useful than you might think.

            2. Mike 16

              One nit-pick

              In addition to an Apple ][, a cassette player, and a TV, you originally needed to buy and install an RF modulator.

              At the time, standards for RFI were tighter than now, and tighter for "home use" than commercial. The legally distinguishing feature (in the U.S. anyway) was whether it depended on a TV for video. Apple got around this by not providing an RF modulator. The buyer had to go down the counter in the computer store and buy a modulator, which by some wild coincidence matched a header on the Apple ][ motherboard. You could have known? Why would anybody do that to our _clearly_ commercial (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) computer? Well, it was not _Apple_ that caused the problem, just those pesky users.

              (This is all reminiscent of the early "electronic experimenter devices" with big warning labels on the line of "WARNING: Do NOT connect the blue wire to point A, lest this device become a radio receiver and incur a patent license fee")

              A short while later TI managed to get a judge (in Texas, what a surprise) to mandate a loosening of RFI standards, on the basis that then current standards were "impossible to meet", despite there being systems like the Atari 800 on the market at the time. And Apple could actually throw in the modulator.

              I think I have already mentioned the use (during acceptance tests) of "Spread Spectrum Clock" on modern PCs to similarly skirt the letter of the law today.

            3. jake Silver badge

              Re: There’s a quote:

              For that price, in an end of year sale my H11 came with a H9 "glass tty" (fully assembled) and the necessary serial I/O card (in kit form), along with a single floppy drive (some assembly required). I bought a second 8" floppy drive because the sales dude was trying to shift 'em and offered me a deal..

              I decided to buy the H11 in kit form because my father and I agreed that it would offer a better learning experience for both of us than getting it fully assembled. Yes, I bought extra RAM ... but that cost would have been the same per chip as for the Apple, which also only came with 4K. But remember that the base H11 came with 4Kwords, the base Apple with 4Kbytes.

              Software was available thru' DECUS, which I could access from Stanford via a little-known thingie that some folks came to call "The Internet". Ride my Bultaco to the school with a 8" floppy or five, grab my software, bike home. The latency sucked, but my bandwidth could be orders of magnitude better than a 110 baud modem.

              The time and effort was well spent. 40+ years on, I am still making money from things I learned building and testing the individual components. Apple's memory mapped video was OK, I guess, if you were into herky-jerky video games & the like. I was more into it as a career choice, not as a toy.

              I learned how the actual hardware worked, PDP-11 assembler, Fortran and COBOL. You learned BASIC (maybe) and how to play games. In retrospect, we're both happy with the memories. Vive la différence. Have a beer?

              1. Steve Todd

                Re: There’s a quote:

                That was a heck of a sale, the original list on that lot was north of $4500.

                Actually I started with BASIC on a UNIVAC 1110, then MS BASiC on a PET, 6502 Assembler, moved over to Z80 systems, learned Pascal under CPM, added FORTRAN 77 on Boroughs machines, since when I’ve made my way through a stack of languages and currently make a living from C#, SQL and a handful of supporting languages. I’ve no problem with whatever route people came to the field via, I just object to them talking a particular system down without understanding how it compared in context (some machines failed because they sucked compared to the competition. Some succeeded even though they sucked because of software support on them. Some failed even though they were good compared to the competition because the software support was poor).

                The Apple II was early to the game, had good software and hardware support, and was competitively priced. For those reasons it deserves some respect.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    , when I was young, I had a 'friend' like Steve Jobs.

    I was awefully talented in the tecnical branche of life. He had other 'talents'.

    (narcissism comes to mind)

    Also I was too troubled and DID know what kind of person he was, so I did NOT join his journey to a million euro firm, to be backstabbed after when the talent wasn't needed anymore.

    So I don't have the millions or so that The Woz has, but I found a happy place in life. I think Woz has also.

  9. Google

    A trip down the history of Macintosh

    For those unwitting of the existence of this great collection of stories about the development of the Macintosh and early days of Apple:

    Careful, it might just eat your day!

    "The cover story did include another profile of Steve Jobs, containing some comments that were less than complimentary. One unspecified friend was quoted saying "something is happening to Steve that's sad and not pretty", but the best quote was attributed to Jef Raskin: "He would have made an excellent King of France.""

  10. macjules

    Happy 70th Birthday Woz

    Happy 70th Birthday Woz

    01001000 01100001 01110000 01110000 01111001 00100000 00110111 00110000 01110100 01101000 00100000 01000010 01101001 01110010 01110100 01101000 01100100 01100001 01111001 00100000 01010111 01101111 01111010 00100001 00100000 01001011 01100101 01100101 01110000 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100001

  11. Vulture@C64

    Steve Jobs may have been unpleasant but he did know how to market the Woz invention. Without Jobs, Woz wouldn't have had the success he did - he'd have been a successful engineer but could he have done the many things he has without the recognition and money that came via Jobs ?

    If I have a hero it would be the Woz. Happy Birthday !

    1. chuBb.

      He's one of my hero's for sure, my favourite tale of woz engineering genius is how he jury rigged the disk controllers for the apple II

      Also if anyone is interested in early apple (company and products) history, is a great resource of interesting stories and info before jobs true colours were widely known

  12. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    Happy birthday

    I well remember the labs of AppleIIs in my school.

    I hope he gets to enjoy a few of these ->

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Happy birthday

      similar, the staff didnt know how to run the software, i had to emlighten them on initial state of variables.

      Tutsim, anyone?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Happy birthday

        Tutsim, anyone?

        That is a long time ago. Technical University Twente simulator.

  13. FlyingPhil

    Woz and Segway (Polo)

    I've had the pleasure of hanging out with Woz a handful of times since 2006, when our sports teams first clashed together amongst sticks and wheels at the worlds first-ever international Segway Polo competition.

    The US 'Aftershocks' team had flown to New Zealand to play my team the 'Pole Blacks' - competing, of course - for the freshly minted Woz Cup. We like to say we invented the first new sport of the 21st Century. Woz is certainly a ferocious Segway Polo player on a field, as well as being a true gentleman.

    While the Segway Personal Transporter is also a very useful personal mobility solution for Woz, the whole idea of taking a thing and "repurposing it" as a fast, nimble device on which to play a hi-tech, tactical sports game boils down the essence of Woz.

    For example, with the Apple I & II, Woz took a bunch of components and repurposed them in very technically clever ways to invent a product that had never been imagined or created before. Sure, as with both Apple and Segway Polo there were other key individuals involved in getting the initial projects off the gourd But without Woz's magic stirred in neither would have had the success they did - massive, in the case of Apple; perhaps a little less so for Segway Polo....yet.

    Here we are hanging out having fish'n'chips a few years later:

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge

    What people remember you for...

    Woz: all the good he's done and things he's invented.

    Jobs: "Oh yeah he was the asshole one at Apple, right?"

    1. phy445

      Re: What people remember you for...

      Time will tell.

      Whilst Jobs bashing is fun, he probably should get credit for pushing to bring to market things that we all now take for granted:

      WIMP interfaces – not invented by Apple, but they got it right enough to transform the computer experience

      Intuitive touch interfaces (even my aged parents can work their phones)

      Glass screens with capacitive sensors rather than plastic ones that need a sharp stylus that is so sharp it scratches the screen.

      WiFi as standard (and USB and bluetooth in computers which worked most of the time – I'm still scarred by the trauma of using USB devices with NT4)

      The iPod – Apple didn't invent the MP3 player, but their implementation transformed the market.


      Now, there's a bunch of stuff that Jobs got wrong:

      Lisa disk interface

      Killing off the PowerMac clones

      That iMac mouse

      G4 Cube



      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: What people remember you for...

        Whilst Jobs bashing is fun, he probably should get credit for pushing to bring to market things that we all now take for granted:

        WIMP interfaces – not invented by Apple, but they got it right enough to transform the computer experience

        It was Jef Raskin that had to insist Jobs go to Parc to see what was happening, and more than once, before he would actually go and do it. Jobs was so thankful to Raskin he out-manoeuvred him and took over his Macintosh project then changed Raskin's vision from a text-based UI to a copy of Lisa's GUI, and used it to destroy Lisa. Why? Because he asked Apple's management to be put in charge of the Lisa project and they said no.

      2. W.S.Gosset

        Re: What people remember you for...


        Jobs fought against every Positive you cite except the iPod.

    2. Adrian 4

      Re: What people remember you for...

      I don't know if it excuses his assholeness, but I do respect Job's insistence on getting it right. It's what kept Apple in the public eye, and has been notably missing since his death.

      Like most engineers, I'm happy to have something working well enough. Making it work to match the vision is an additional step that I admire.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What people remember you for...

      Woz gave Kottke – and other snubbed staffers – $10m of stock from his own portion, saying it was "the right thing" to do.

      Knew about the being scammed by Jobs, but didn't know this. What a nice chap!! Happy Birthday

  15. willyslick

    Hey Woz, thanks so much for staging the US Festival in 1982 - I will never forget those 3 fantastic days!!,_September_3

  16. jake Silver badge

    And here I thought ...

    ... this was going to be a happy thread, celebrating Woz's life.

    But no, obviously it was meant to be a dog-pile on a dead guy thread.

    Silly me. What was I thinking.

  17. Joe Gurman


    "Woz helped develop the Apple II?" Helped develop?

    Woz put NTSC color video into the Apple II with a US$1 chip. He argued down The Other Steve and preserved the eight expansions slots (TOS wanted just two). But most brilliant of all, he designed the floppy disk drive for the Apple II and wrote the driver, in an age when glacially slow cassette tape drives were the norm for small computers. And of course, the basic Apple ][ system architecture was inherited from the Apple I, was was pretty much a 100% Woz design.

    If you're going to write about someone's engineering achievements, please describe those achievements.

  18. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Happy Birthday Woz

    and thanks for being an important part of it all. :-)

    Personally I never owned any Apple computers but I played games on and wrote programs on a friends Apple II. My Dad was a Sinclair addict so you can guess what calculators, watch, and computers (ZX81 & QL) we had.

  19. TechHeadToo

    We are fortunate to be able to judge over several decades. The Apple founders were not alone in the world of people making Pc's

    Whilst we're saying all these things, I think I should add my oft-repeated prophecy that when the world looks back on the rise of computing, Bill Gates will be judged by history as having held back the progress of computing by about 25 years.

    - the above comment about USB and NT4 (new Technology, aka 'written by IBM') reminded me that on my desk here I have laptops running MAC OSX and W10. I have needed to use a USB stick in each. OSX accepts 'eject' and closes the device, and the window it was visible within. Windows10 current edition does nothing. After closing everything that could possibly have the device in use, it still ignores an 'eject' command.

    All this time, and Microsoft still haven't managed to make the most fundamental of operations work in a friendly way.

    And don't start on the rest of the windows ecology

    Woz genius was in leading the way on the tech, Jobs was a genius in demanding that stuff worked the way it should, be consistent across the entire UI, and by crikey, be beautiful doing it.

    Let's just say - it takes two to tango.

  20. Lomax

    Triumph of the Nerds

    I raise a glass to Woz, the ultimate protonerd, and celebrate by re-watching Rob Cringely's excellent 1996 documentary series.

  21. Denarius

    was it that long ago

    we lost Dennis Ritchie ? A good and great in computing. Pity some sales weasels death swamped news of a sad day

  22. W.S.Gosset
    Thumb Up

    I met Woz

    And he talked. And reminisced. And joked.

    And he casually did something as a favour to me (a guest Aussie talking to a guest American at Oxford Uni, joking about something sublimely trivial), after 1-2 seconds of sucking his teeth, which in all its ur-elements was the same as his floppy controller. Automatically. Reflex.

    As he'd said earlier re his early days (' constraints) : he took something OUT.

    It was so clean, elegant, and unexpected, that I just blinked blankly at it for a good second before I twigged.

    I don't think I've ever met a nicer human being. (He's been quoted as saying his greatest hope is to be remembered as a good primary school teacher.)

    I've come across, globally, perhaps a handful of people in his _league_ for raw intelligence.

    The combination of both?


    Woz. Mate. You're what every human on the planet should be.

  23. 2Fat2Bald

    And Yet

    There are still people out there who consider IT a "young person's career", for whatever reason. Maybe because it doesn't require comprehensive knowledge and experience and does require good physical fitness and short reaction times?

    Oh, no. Hang on.

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