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Comments Off on A computer history tour with Woz
The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, will unveil in January 2011 an exhibit entitled "Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing". The press got a sneak peek last week, with their tour guide being a historical figure himself: no less than Steve Wozniak.
Imagine what an experience that must've been! Seeing the computers that launched an industry and revolutionized a world, described by the man who was there to make it happen. Such narration should be captured and offered as an audio tour to future visitors of the museum.
Fortunately, this rare experience was documented by the many journalists in attendance. Harry McCracken of Technologizer.com took several photos, focusing more on his tour guide than on the exhibit himself. Along the way, Woz commented on several computers that influenced his design of the Apple II, even stopping to pose with some of his own creations that are included in the museum.
As the group walked among machines capable of so little compared to today's computing behemoths, McCracken observed that Woz "again and again … came back to praising engineering minimalism — accomplishing a task with the fewest possible parts and the simplest possible code." It's a design philosophy that I expect is shared among many Apple II developers to this day. For example, in an interview with Juiced.GS in December 2009, Alex Freed of Carte Blanche fame said, "Electronic design is my day job and I work with considerably more advanced devices, but some ideas from the Apple II days are still valid. For example, I always try to find a way to use minimum hardware to do the job."
For the Mercury News, David Cassidy provided more prose than photos and was more reflective than reportorial, wondering if Steve Wozniak isn't more deserving of the fame and adoration that is normally heaped upon Apple's other co-founder, Steve Jobs.
UPDATE: Therese Poletti shares this video from the tour:
UPDATE 2: Mark Milian at CNN also has a video:
UPDATE 3: Peter Watson pointed me to this series of videos from ZDNet:
- Wozniak on designing the first Apple computer
- Wozniak on his early work as a hacker
- Wozniak on his first favorite portable device
- Wozniak's computer history tour
- Wozniak on humans and technology
Woz seems to be everywhere these days, but one has to make onself available to such opportunities. The Computer History Museum is one of many historical sites throughout Silicon Valley that I would be thrilled to see. My employer, Computerworld, has its offices in Framingham, Massachusetts, about an hour west of Boston. But we're affiliated with both PC World and Macworld, which make their home in San Francisco. Computerworld has at least one employee in that location, and I can't help but think that maybe it'd be mutually beneficial for me to be the second.