Author: Steve Wozniak with Gina Smith
Release: September 2006
Tagline: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Genre: Autobiography, History, Technology, Biography, Engineering
Main Character: Steve Wozniak
Synopsis: Wozniak gives a short history of his life, the founding of Apple Computer and some of his other ventures. Near the end of the book, Wozniak explains that he wrote the book in order to dispel some misconceptions that have been spread about him, his relationship with Steve Jobs and his relationship with and feelings towards Apple. Wozniak presents his story in short vignettes, never longer than a few pages, and most no longer than just a few paragraphs.
Declassified by Agent Palmer: “iWoz” is the Great Autobiography of Steve Wozniak by Steve Wozniak with Gina Smith
Quotes and Lines
What I am talking about is what it means to be an engineer’s engineer. A serious engineer. I so clearly remember him telling me that engineering was the highest level of importance you could reach in the world, that someone who could make electrical devices that do something good for people takes society to a new level. HE told me that as an engineer, you can change your world and change the way of life for lots and lots of people.
Throughout my career at Apple and other places, you always find a lot of geeks who try to reach levels without doing the in-between ones first, and it won’t work. It never does. That’s just cognitive development, plain and simple. You can’t teach somebody two cognitive steps above from where you are–and knowing that helped me with my own children as well as with the fifth graders I taught later on. I kept telling them, like a mantra: One step at a time.
That’s because, as I was becoming an adult, I started gaining a new ethic–a profound care for the happiness and welfare of people. I was just starting to figure out that the secret to life–and this is still true for me–is to find a way to be happy and satisfied with your life and also to make other people happy and satisfied with their lives.
This much I know for sure: I was meant to be an engineer who designs computers, an engineer who writes software, an engineer to who tells jokes, and an engineer who teaches other people things.
As I said, almost all of the large computer companies were on record saying that what we were doing was insignificant. It turned out they were wrong and we were right–right all the way. But back then, even we had no idea how right we were and how huge it would become.
So why did the Apple III have so many problems, despite the fact that all of our other products had worked so great? I can answer that. It’s because the Apple II was not developed by a single engineer or a couple of engineers working together. It was developed by committee, by the marketing department. These were executives in the company who could take a lot of their power and decided to put all their money and resources in the direction of their own ideas. Their own ideas as to what a computer should be.
In life, there is an “us” and a “them.” A “we” and a “they.” And the “they” is the administration, the authorities. And sometimes they’re on the wrong side and we’re on the right side.
Maybe you’re wondering why I haven’t written a memoir before this. People kept asking me to. There are a lot of reasons I didn’t. I was busy–too busy. A couple of times I even tried to start working on it, but my plans always fell through. I just didn’t have the time.
This time is different. At this point in my life–I’m fifty-five as I write this–I think it’s time to set the record straight. So much of the information out there about me is wrong. I’ve come to hate books about Apple and it’s history so much because of that. For instance, there are stories that I dropped out of college (I didn’t_ or that I was thrown out of the University of Colorado (I wasn’t), that Steve and I were high school classmates (we were several years apart in school) and that Steve and I engineered those first computers together (I did them alone).
And there’s another reason I’ve written this book, though I didn’t realize it until I was well into it. I’d like to give advice, for what it’s worth, to kids out there who are like I was. Kids who feel they’re outside the norm. Kids who feel it in themselves to design things, invent things, engineer things. Chanve the way people do things.
- Well, first you need to believe in yourself.
- As an inventor, you have to see things in gray scale.
- And artists work best alone
- Work alone
- You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.
I think it’s time to set the record straight. So much of the information out there about me is wrong. I’ve come to hate books about Apple and it’s history so much because of that. For instance, there are stories that I dropped out of college (I didn’t_ or that I was thrown out of the University of Colorado (I wasn’t), that Steve and I were high school classmates (we were several years apart in school) and that Steve and I engineered those first computers together (I did them alone).
It’s so easy to doubt yourself, and it’s especially easy to doubt yourself when what you’re working on is at odds with everyone else in the world who thinks they know the right way to do things. Sometimes you can’t prove whether you’re right or wrong. Only time can tell that. But if you believe in your own power to objectively reason, that’s a key to happiness. And a key to confidence. Another key I found to happiness was to realizes that I didn’t have to disagree with someone and let it get all intense. If you believe in your own power to reason, you can just relax. You don’t have to feel the pressure to set out and convince anyone. So don’t sweat it! You have to trust your own designs, your own intuition, and your own understanding of what your invention needs to be.
But then I realized I was lucky. I got to see the before, the during, and the after of some of those changes in life. I got to be one of those few people who could effect some of those changes.
I hope you’ll be as lucky as I am. The world needs inventors–great ones. You can be one. If you love what you do and are willing to do what it takes, it’s within your reach. And it’ll be worth every minute you spend alone at night, thinking and thinking about what it is you want to design or build. It’ll be worth it, I promise.