December 2006


I received Steve Wozniak’s autobiography titled “iWoz" as a Christmas present. It was very interesting to read about how Steve (Woz) invented the Apple I and II computers and started the Apple Computer company with Steve Jobs. While I never owned an Apple II computer, I got hooked on the Apple Macintosh shortly after.

There are a number of things about Steve's life that paralleled mine. He was born in 1950, two years after me. His father taught him much and got him interested in engineering while he was young, just like my father. The difference was his father was an electrical engineer while my father was a carpenter and mechanic. While Steve was messing with electronics, I was messing with cars and shacks.

But our experiences came together in college. Steve and I first learned computer programming through Fortran required as part of an engineering class. We both had problems with overspending on computer accounts when we had to pay for computer time on big timesharing computer systems. Our first introduction to how a computer worked on the lowest level was through a book from Digital Equipment titled "Small Computer Handbook". I still have that book on my bookshelf.

But that's where the similarity ended. Steve was on the provider side, inventing the new computer technology, while I was on the consumer side using it. His side was decidedly more lucrative, making him worth hundreds of millions of dollars just a few years after starting Apple Computer.

While not downplaying the importance of the Apple II computer in the personal computer history, I felt a little let down with Steve's story in the last twenty years. He never had another great invention, but does seem to get satisfaction from teaching young people about computer technology.