Meeting Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak on the left, Marcel Brown on the right, and the Apple IIgs with Woz signature.

Steve Wozniak on the left, Marcel Brown on the right, and the Apple IIgs with Woz signature.

Back on January 28th, I was lucky enough to personally meet Steve Wozniak, a living legend in the technology industry. First a shout out to Cathy and Jack Davis of Davis Creative for giving me the heads up that Steve Wozniak was holding a special reception while he was in town to give a speech. I would have likely not known otherwise and missed out on the opportunity. For those of you that may not be aware, Steve Wozniak was co-founder of Apple Computer, along with Steve Jobs, and was the primary designer of the Apple I and Apple II computers that ignited the personal computer revolution. The first real computer I ever used was an Apple IIe and I spent most of my early years learning computer technology on various Apple II series computers. So to say that Steve Wozniak was influential in my life is an understatement. Meeting such an important person in the history of the technology industry was an absolutely incredible experience.

Wozniak primarily gave a little talk, answered some questions, and then shook hands with people and signed autographs. I even managed to get him to sign my old Apple IIgs computer!

Here are some highlights of what he spoke about that evening.

  • He mentioned several times about how he never really was interested in starting or running a business. He just wanted to create great technology.
  • Along the same lines, he was clear that Steve Jobs was not the technology brains behind Apple. But he was also clear that without Jobs’ contributions, Apple would have never existed as a business. He said that the two of them together were a perfect combination.
  • He talked about the relative failure of the educational system to take advantage of technology for teaching. He cited that most class sizes are too big and most educational systems don’t allow for outside of the box thinking. Technology should be giving kids the ability to think for themselves, but most educational systems stifle that creativity and therefore technology is not being used to its fullest potential. (Personally, I’ve seen the contrast between school districts that embrace technology and those that don’t, so I got exactly what he was saying. Too much old-school thinking that technology is just “fun and games” still permeates some educations systems and they try too hard to control the way technology is deployed in the classroom. In the meanwhile, kids are using technology in all other aspects of their lives so they look at the classroom as archaic and this stifles their learning. Other districts embrace personal technology and have made great strides in teacher-student interaction and subsequently the kids are learning in ways they are very comfortable with. Some of you know all too well exactly what I’m talking about.)
  • He received a question along the lines of what tips and tricks did he use to create the first Apple computers. Wozniak’s reply was, “I was inventing the tips and tricks”. If you know the history of the early personal computers like I do, you’d understand that he was right. Wozniak was using existing technology and making it do things it wasn’t exactly intended to do. But by doing so, he was able to solve technology problems in a way that allowed for the early personal computers to be relatively simple, and more importantly, affordable. The contributions of Steve Wozniak to the personal computer revolution can not be overstated.
  • Wozniak said that to him creating computers was the easy part. The business stuff was hard and he was so grateful that Steve Jobs handled all that stuff.

As a technology professional and a technology enthusiast, meeting one of the men who ignited the personal computer revolution was an experience of a lifetime. Below I share a few pictures and video of the event. I hope you enjoy them!