Steve Wozniak delivers an iMac

April 21st, 2014 12:37 PM
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Steve Wozniak is a man of the people. Whereas many celebrities elevate themselves above the consumers upon which they built their empires — or, unsure how to handle their unexpected fame, become recluses — Woz has never shied from his fans and friends. Whether it's insisting he pay to attend KansasFest 2013, or waiting in line with everyone else for the new iPhone, he's the most down-to-earth living legend you could ever meet.

A good example of Woz's nature can be seen in a video recorded a few years ago but published just recently. Emma, an Australian pre-teen whose parents were buying her a new iMac, was astonished to find the Apple representative who made the home delivery was none other than Steve Wozniak himself! Despite being younger than the Apple II, Emma had the good sense to recognize whose presence she was in, yet the wherewithal to not completely freak out.

I don't know how her father arranged this delivery, but he opens the video with the observation, "This is like having your lightbulbs delivered by Thomas Edison." It reminds me of something I believe Eric Shepherd said in 2003, when Woz was announced as the KansasFest keynote speaker: "It's like having Jesus Christ come to Easter dinner."

Who knows where Woz will pop up next?

(Hat tip to Jesus Diaz)

Wozstralia

October 8th, 2012 1:06 PM
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Switzerland may be the birthplace of the World Wide Web, but that invention is just a component of the larger Internet, for which the United States of America can claim responsibility. Yet the USA has fallen behind in broadband penetration and speed (6.7 Mbps average — just 43% of what South Korea attains).

So embarrassed by this performance that the USA may lose another of its children: Steve Wozniak wants to move to Australia, where a national broadband network is being deployed.

Sydney Opera House"I support it very much. It's one of the reasons why I actually like this country and want to become a citizen," Woz told the Australian Financial Review. "It turns out I can keep my American citizenship. I intend to call myself an Australian and feel an Australian, and study the history and become as much of a real citizen here as I can."

This isn't just idle chatter, either: The Mercury News reports that Woz was in Brisbane at the time of the iPhone 5's launch, filing the documents necessary to begin the citizenship process to settle in the Land of Woz.

It's ironic that Woz would place so much emphasis on personal broadband, as his current California residence lacks that connectivity. The Woz is apparently able to get by with mobile access from his multiple cell phones.

Be it mobile or broadband, Woz's and the world's connectivity needs are very different from the days in which the Apple II was invented. Even today, though the telecommunication projects of Ewen Wannop are nearly essential additions to any modern Apple II user's software library, there's so much we can do offline with our classic computers. While the same can be said for Macs and PCs — games and productivity suites often work fine without an Internet connection — I never feel as crippled with an offline Apple II as I do with an offline MacBook. Instead, I enjoy the slower pace of the Apple II, the thoughtful navigation and swapping of disks, and the monotasking work environment.

Does Woz need to switch countries — or computers?

(Hat tips to Paul Lilly and Om Malik)

ABC & inThirty talk to Woz

June 4th, 2012 12:32 PM
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Steve Wozniak's star continues to shine brightly, with media appearances all over the world and the Internet.

In May, Woz spoke with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) of Sydney. The MP3 of the interview is short, clocking in at fewer than ten minutes. The only new piece of information I gleaned was that (if I understand correctly) the Apple-1 was designed not with a personal computer in mind, but an Internet terminal. That's unsurprisingly prescient of Woz.

More interesting yet less publicized was Woz's Leap Day interview with tech podcast inThirty, hosted by Justin Freid. Part one (iTunes) and part two (iTunes) each run about 30 minutes, for one hour total. These interviews are much meatier, conducted as they are by a tech guru and not a mainstream media anchor, even though both inThirty and ABC want to know about Woz's relationship with the late Steve Jobs.

inThirty's exchange most relevant to Apple II Bits readers was prompted by the question: "How much of the Apple II do you see in the iPhone and iPad? Is that philosophy of Apple being an engineering company still prevalent?" Woz's answer:

It's very hard to see any similarity between the Apple II that I designed and the iPhones and iPads today in terms of the product features… I built the Apple II for myself, and Steve Jobs wasn't around — he was up in Oregon, he wasn't talking to me… Here's what's similar … the Apple II, I just built them because I wanted a computer to do my work at Hewlett-Packard… I wanted to play games and have a machine for fun… that was all I ever wanted out of the thing, and as such, I was building it for myself… It's very important to know who you're building something for, so that it comes out good and consistent for that person, and the person was only one person, which was myself. I like things simple, clean — I don't want them full of stuff that nobody understands. That's a beauty to me.

Woz likes things simple and clean, yet he pushed for the Apple II to have seven expansion slots, against Steve Jobs' wishes. Is the sleek, streamline form factor and interface of today's iOS devices therefore not the antithesis of Woz's philosophy, as commonly believed, but rather its realization?

The career-shaping Apple II

October 21st, 2010 12:05 PM
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Some of my favorite Juiced.GS articles are the anthologies. Roughly annually, the staff and I choose an Apple II-related topic and solicit community members to contribute brief essays that I assemble into a single collage. I love the variety of perspectives and voices, and the collaborative nature of being able to work with such a diverse yet ephemeral team.

In my time as editor of the magazine, I've overseen four such articles: where were you when the Apple IIGS was released; favorite memories of KansasFest; how did the Apple II influence your career; and favorite memories of Joe Kohn. (Naturally, that last one was the least enjoyable; I would've preferred not to have needed to publish it at all.) My favorite of those was how the Apple II impacted our jobs:

Wherever you live, no matter your age, today's economy is a difficult one in which to either find or keep a job. Fortunately, the Apple II has long served as a strong foundation, teaching its users programming languages and critical thinking skills that have shaped their professional careers. We asked Juiced.GS subscribers, "How did the Apple II bring you to the career you have today?"

The answers were nothing short of inspiring. When else could Juiced.GS readers find Australian mainframes, digital libraries, and chicken coops, all in one article?

More mundanely, the Apple II also led me to my current job at Computerworld. In return, I try to bring my hobby to my workplace, not only by setting up the actual machine in my cubicle, but by covering the retrocomputing scene for Computerworld's readers. Although I'm careful to not be pigeonholed as "the Apple II guy", my editors are have been pleasantly surprised by my stories proving major traffic drivers for the site each of the last two Augusts.

Recently, another professional who is where he is today because of the Apple II had a run-in with Computerworld, though this time, it was one of our dozens of international counterparts. Computerworld Australia this week published an interview with Mr. Simon Hackett, founder of both telecommunications carrier Agile Communications and Internet service provider (ISP) Internode. Staff writer James Hutchinson's very first question to Mr. Hackett, "What caused you to get into telecommunications in the first place?", produced an answer that would've been right at home in Juiced.GS:

While I was at high school, around 1981, an Apple II turned up on loan from the Angle Park Computing Centre (an SA Government initiative which was a catalyst for a number of future IT Entrepreneurs in South Australia). Other students started playing with it to see what games it seemed to come with. But I picked up the book that arrived with the machine, containing the ROM Monitor manual and 6502 assembly language guide, and started writing little programs in machine code for fun. It seemed easy, because nobody had told me that it was supposed to be hard.

Some years later, I took on a job at Adelaide University right when AARNet (the university precursor to the commercial internet in Australia) was being created by the university sector. It was the first (and last) job interview I've ever had with anyone! As part of that team of people, I picked up the way the internet and TCP/IP worked just as I had picked up Apple II machine code — by rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty and just… doing it.

It became clear to me that my professional future was going to be intertwined with the use of networks to get computers to do useful things for people in the real world.

Practically on the other side of the planet from where Steve Wozniak cobbled together his brainchild, a career was shaped and made manifest. How many others learned from the Apple II the foundational skills and knowledge that they transferred and applied to their dreams? How many other careers, from enterprise IT entrepreneur to iPhone programmer to helpdesk technician to tech writer, have been influenced by this 8-bit machine?

How have you?