Woz meets Spock

January 9th, 2012 9:58 AM
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No big story here, just a geek encounter that’s too cool to go unnoticed: Apple II inventor Steve Wozniak gets grilled by Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock.

This crossover, orchestrated by VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall, occurred Thursday, January 5, in San Francisco at DEMO Enterprise, an event hosted by my employer, IDG Enterprise and sponsored by Woz’s Fusion-io. It’s not clear to me what the science officer of the Federation starship Enterprise was doing there, but given how much closer to Star Trek‘s 23rd century Apple technology has brought us, it seems a fitting intersection.

(Hat tip to Computerworld)

Engadget Woz

May 19th, 2011 11:48 AM
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Another podcast I finally caught up on this past weekend was Engadget’s interview with Steve Wozniak, which debuted this past January. It had taken this long for me to listen because the episode is available as an MP4 video only. I eventually stripped the audio and put it on a portable player I could listen to on my way home from VCF.

I’ve featured plenty of interviews with the Woz, but this one has to be my favorite. Unlike his brief appearance on NPR last December, it was nice and lengthy, running more than a half-hour. Given so much time, he was able to pontificate on a variety of topics. The tricks he’d played in his youth have been well-reported, but this was the first time I’d heard of him extending that mischief to his encounters with the government. It was also one of the rare times I heard Woz talk about his role with, and the future of, storage and memory company Fusion-io, which is soon to make an IPO. And with a moderator to guide Woz, he was less rambling yet more interesting than his recent appearance at the American Humanist Association.

The interview starts just a few minutes into the episode and runs until 40:51, followed by some live chiptune music by Zen Albatross. You can download the show from iTunes or watch it here:

Wozniak’s memories of memory

August 30th, 2010 9:30 AM
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Steve WozniakSteve Wozniak, who this month turned 60, recently spoke at the Flash Media Summit in Santa Clara, California, in his role as chief scientist of solid-state drive company Fusion-io. In his closing keynote speech, entitled “Driving Innovation with Solid-State Technologies“, Wozniak reflected that hardware memory has played a pivotal role in all his designs, from the earliest to the latest. The IDG News Service reports:

“The biggest decision I made in most of the projects of my life was what memory to use that’s the exact right, smallest, simplest, and more importantly, the cheapest there is,” Wozniak told the audience in a packed auditorium.

Even the first major commercial product he designed with co-founder Steve Jobs, the Apple II, was defined largely by memory. Facing the problem of how to refresh the characters on the screen fast enough to keep up with a microprocessor that could do a million operations per second, he came up with the idea of devoting some of the computer’s dynamic memory to the display, he said.

You know what my favorite part of that passage is? Not the technical details, or the acknowledgement of the Apple II, or even the genius of Woz. It’s the “packed auditorium”. Twenty-five years after he left the company he founded, Steve Wozniak is still a superstar. It’s not just his appearance on Dancing with the Stars that has put him in the spotlight. Engineers, programmers, designers, and geeks across the globe recognize the brilliance and courage that has continuously allowed Woz to work magic.

Although he was no longer with Apple Computer Inc. by the time the “Think Different” campaign was unveiled, Woz is nonetheless the embodiment of that advertisement.

“When you’re in school, you’re always taught that the right answer is the same answer everyone else has,” Wozniak said. It’s a lesson he’s learned several times in years of engineering. “Clear out your mind of the way the world is today,” he said.