Steve Wozniak

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Steve Wozniak’s views have evolved quickly in regards to the existential threat of intelligent machines. In early 2015, he told the Australian Financial Review that “computers are going to take over from humans, no question.” The future is “very bad for people,” he warned. Just a few months later, Homo sapiens received an upgrade from the Apple co-founder, who said AI would keep us around as “family pets,” even if they were making all the crucial decisions.

Two years on, Wozniak has learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. On Monday, he said this on CNBC: “I’ve totally changed my mind — We aren’t talking about artificial intelligence that sits down and says, ‘What is my life in the world? What do I have as obstacles? How do I solve them? What should I solve?’,” Wozniak said. “Only humans do that.”

Well, that’s a relief. In the same week, I successfully filed my taxes and found out my species wasn’t doomed. Nice.

The Woz granted an interview to USA Today in advance of this weekend’s Silicon Valley Comic Con, with it’s forward-thinking theme: “The Future of Humanity: Where Will We Be in 2075?”  In that year, the computer programmer believes Apple, Facebook and Google and will be even bigger and more formidable corporations and cities will sprout up in heretofore uninhabitable deserts. Neither seems plausible.

An excerpt:

Woz shared some other predictions on what type of planet we can expect in 2075:

New cities. Deserts could be ideal locations for cities of the future, designed and built from scratch, according to Wozniak. There, housing problems will not exist and people will shuttle among domed structures. Special wearable suits will allow people to venture outside, he said.

— The influence of artificial intelligence. Within all cities, AI will be ubiquitous, Wozniak says. Like a scene straight from the movie Minority Report, consumers will interact with smart walls and other surfaces to shop, communicate and be entertained. Medical devices will enable self-diagnosis and doctor-free prescriptions, he says. “The question will be ethical, on whether we can eliminate the need for physicians,” he says.

— Mars colony. Woz is convinced a colony will exist on the Red Planet. Echoing the sentiments of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin start-up has designs on traveling to Mars, Wozniak envisions Earth zoned for residential use and Mars for heavy industry.

— Extraterrestrials. With apologies to those who believe in aliens, Wozniak says there is a “random chance” that Earthlings will communicate with another race. “It’s worth trying,” he says, “but I don’t have high hopes.”•



Steve Wozniak just completed one of his wide-ranging AMAs at Reddit, providing thoughtful commentary on myriad subjects. On the state of the company he cofounded, he admires Tim Cook’s management though he has misgivings about the Apple Watch (and who doesn’t!). The Woz longs for the day when we can talk to machines that know us as well as–even better than–our human friends, which will be wonderful and creepy. In the Apple/FBI scrum, he comes down on the side civil liberties, which is unsurprising if you know his history. A few exchanges follow.



What is Tim Cook doing right/wrong, in your opinion?

Steve Wozniak:

Tim Cook is acknowledging the employees of Apple and the customers of Apple as real people. He is continuing a strong tradition that Steve Jobs was known for of making good products that help people do things they want to do in their life, and not taking the company into roads of, “Oh, we’ll make all our money like by knowing you and advertising to you.” We’ll make good products. And you know, I started out as a hardware product guy, so I’m glad to see that.

I worry a little bit about – I mean I love my Apple Watch, but – it’s taken us into a jewelry market where you’re going to buy a watch between $500 or $1100 based on how important you think you are as a person. The only difference is the band in all those watches. Twenty watches from $500 to $1100. The band’s the only difference? Well this isn’t the company that Apple was originally, or the company that really changed the world a lot. So it might be moving, but you’ve got to follow, you know. You’ve got to follow the paths of where the markets are.

Everything else, I’m very approving of Tim Cook, because every time we have a new iOS update, I’m very happy that it’s doing things that really affect people. Like transferring calls from my phone to my computer, etc. I really love even the Airplay, and all that. So, I love the software, and I love the hardware, and nothing’s letting me down. So I approve very strongly of Tim Cook and the new Apple. I dearly miss Steve Jobs too, but, that’s all.



What are your thoughts on the FBI/DOJ vs Apple ordeal at the moment?

Steve Wozniak:

All through my time with personal computers from the start, I developed an attitude that things like movement towards newer, better technologies – like the Macintosh computer, like the touchscreen of the iPhone – that these were making the human more important than the technology. We did not have to modify our ways of living. So the human became very important to me. And how do you represent what humanity is?

You know what, I have things in my head, some very special people in my life that I don’t talk about, that mean so much to me from the past. Those little things that I keep in my head are my little secrets. It’s a part of my important world, my whole essence of my being. I also believe in honesty. If you tell somebody, “I am not snooping on you,” or, “I am giving you some level of privacy; I will not look in your drawers,” then you should keep your word and be honest. And I always try to avoid being a snoop myself, and it’s rare in time that we can look back and say, “How should humans be treated?” Not, “How can the police run everything?”

I was brought up in a time when communist Russia under Stalin was thought to be, everybody is spied on, everybody is looked into, every little thing can get you secretly thrown into prison. And, no. We had our Bill of Rights. And it’s just dear to me. The Bill of Rights says some bad people won’t do certain bad things because we’re protecting humans to live as humans.

So, I come from the side of personal liberties. But there are also other problems. Twice in my life I wrote things that could have been viruses. I threw away every bit of source code. I just got a chill inside. These are dangerous, dangerous things, and if some code gets written in an Apple product that lets people in, bad people are going to find their way to it, very likely.



What is your opinion on how immersive our technology is becoming? We use computers in some form, almost constantly. Do you ever feel in your own life you that it becomes overwhelming?

Steve Wozniak:

I have that feeling all the time because I like a nice, quiet, simple life. I grew up shy. I’m more into products than I’m into socializing. And I do not carry around my phone answering every text message instantly. I am not one of those people.

I wait until I’m alone in my places and get on my computer and do things where I think I’m more efficient. I really see a lot of people that are dragged into it, but you know, I don’t criticize them. When you have change, it’s not that the change in how people are behaving different to you is bad or good, it’s just different.

So that’s sort of the modern way, and you know the millennials, every generation wants to criticize the next generation for missing out on things like personal human contact, but I’ll tell you a little story. When we started Apple, Steve Jobs and I talked about how we wanted to make blind people as equal and capable as sighted people, and you’d have to say we succeeded when you look at all the people walking down the sidewalk looking down at something in their hands and totally oblivious to everything around them!



What is your favorite up and coming gadget? Anything people don’t know about yet?

Steve Wozniak:

Well, I would think probably one of them is certainly the Oculus Rift, or any of the VR headsets. I love putting mine on and watching a basketball game live; it was just an experience that you can’t believe. Sometimes I come out of a VR world, take off the helmet, and I can’t believe I’m actually sitting in my office, at a desk at home. So, that’s one of the big ones.

Right now, Amazon Echo; it’s getting so popular among the people that use it and they speak so highly of it, and it’s so inexpensive. I see a lot of developers that went into smartphones jumping onto that. It’s a platform, and when you have a platform that everybody else is writing apps for and connecting to, basically they’re advertising your company as much as you are.

Obviously, I’m very interested in the evolution of self-driving cars. Right now, the assist that they give you for keeping in your lane and cruise control…the cruise control started back in 2004 actually, adjusting your distance. I love driving my Tesla so much, I just smile! I sit there in the driver’s seat, and I kinda look over at my wife, and I just smile. I’m so happy, not using my hands or feet. So, I think the progression towards self-driving cars is going to be a good one. But it falls into that category of AI.

Now, the AI that impresses me, I fell in love 10 years ago – well not 10 years ago, but whenever it started; Siri was an app you could buy for the iPhone, and I bought it. And for one year, Apple didn’t have it. I just spoke of it as the app that changed my life, because I get to live as a human, saying things out of my head the way I would to another human, and a machine understands me. And I have wanted that to be the future for…forever.

Actually, ever since our Newton message pad, where I could type in, “Sara, dentist, Tuesday, 2 PM,” and click the assist button, and it would open up the calendar; Tuesday at 2 PM, it would put the word dentist, and it would grab Sara out of my contact list. I hand wrote with my own muscles a message for myself, for a human, and a machine understood me. So, I want that to get better and better; machines understanding what we mean, so that we can eventually communicate with them as our best, most trusted friends that know our own hearts and souls better than other humans.•


I think Steve Wozniak is great because how can you not, but I am willing to wager there will still be some humans driving cars in 20 years, though the Woz predicted there won’t be in his keynote speech at the Gartner Symposium. Hyperbole aside, he is right that driverless is gaining speed, even if the ETA is MIA. The Apple co-founder also gave voice to his concerns about surveillance enabled by technologies, though he acknowledges that war has likely been lost. Two excerpts about the address from Divina Paredes at Computerworld.


“It was a magical experience… like Disneyland all the time.”

This is how Steve Wozniak described his experience driving his Tesla car on autopilot for two nights in a row.

The co-founder of Apple and chief scientist at Fusion-IO, said the car was making decisions on on the road, and his hands need not be on the wheel. “It was just a wonderful feeling.”

“Self driving cars is the biggest technology for the future,” said Wozniak during his keynote at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo at the Gold Coast.

“In the future, self driving cars will avoid problems humans make,” he said. They will have artificial intelligence. They will see speed limits, red lights and people walking across their path and even any kind of obstacles.

“In 20 years, no human drivers will be allowed except for the young kids at Disneyland.”


“Every purchase you make, every place you go, your face is being recognised, every keystroke you type on your computer, somebody could be looking at your computer at what you are doing.”

“It bothers me…I am very much on the side of civil liberties and protecting privacy,” he said, adding that he is one of the founders of the US Electronic Frontier Foundation that advocates for these rights.

“Humans should be much more important than technology,” he said. “But we lost the battle to machines 200 years ago. We will always fire a human but not fire a machine that makes our cheap clothing.”•

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Well, of course we shouldn’t engage in autonomous warfare, but what’s obvious now might not always seem so clear. What’s perfectly sensible today might seem painfully naive tomorrow.

I think humans create tools to use them, eventually. When electricity (or some other power source) is coursing through those objects, the tools almost become demanding of our attention. If you had asked the typical person 50 years ago–20 years ago?–whether they would be accepting of a surveillance state, the answer would have been a resounding “no.” But here we are. It just creeped up on us. How creepy.

I still, however, am glad that Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk and a thousand others engaged in science and technology have petitioned for a ban on AI warfare. It can’t hurt.

From Samuel Gibbs at the Guardian:

The letter states: “AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of [autonomous weapons] is – practically if not legally – feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”

The authors argue that AI can be used to make the battlefield a safer place for military personnel, but that offensive weapons that operate on their own would lower the threshold of going to battle and result in greater loss of human life.

Should one military power start developing systems capable of selecting targets and operating autonomously without direct human control, it would start an arms race similar to the one for the atom bomb, the authors argue. Unlike nuclear weapons, however, AI requires no specific hard-to-create materials and will be difficult to monitor.•

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Most scenarios of AI dominance end, for humans, with extinction, but Steve Wozniak no longer feels that way, believing we can lose the war but be happy captives–pets, even. His scenario seems unlikely. From Samuel Gibbs at the Guardian:

Apple’s early-adopting, outspoken co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks humans will be fine if robots take over the world because we’ll just become their pets.

After previously stating that a robotic future powered by artificial intelligence (AI) would be “scary and very bad for people” and that robots would “get rid of the slow humans,” Wozniak has staged a U-turn and says he now thinks robots taking over would be good for the human race.

“They’re going to be smarter than us and if they’re smarter than us then they’ll realise they need us,” Wozniak said at the Freescale technology forum in Austin. “We want to be the family pet and be taken care of all the time.” …

For Wozniak, it will be “hundreds of years” before AI is capable of taking over, but that by the time it does it will no longer be a threat to our existence: “They’ll be so smart by then that they’ll know they have to keep nature, and humans are part of nature. I got over my fear that we’d be replaced by computers. They’re going to help us. We’re at least the gods originally.”•

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Goods and food made, served and delivered by humans will some day (and soon) be an artisanal and specialized field, the same way some still buy handmade shoes at a great expense, but most of us hop around on the machine-manufactured kind. That’s right, the wealthy will say, an actual lady’s hands touched my carrots! How smart!

Seriously, almost all of us are eventually being replaced at work by robots, with almost every task that can be automated being automated, and there’s no economic plan in place to deal with that onrushing reality. How do we reconcile a free-market economy with a highly automated one? Of course, I’m just talking about Weak AI. What happens if something stronger comes along, which will likely occur if we go on long enough? As the song says, we’ll make great pets. From recent Steve Wozniak comments reported by Brian Steele at MassLive:

“I love technology, to try it out myself,” said Wozniak. “I’ve got at least 5 iPhones. … I have some Android phones.”

He imagined a world in which these kinds of devices would be able to teach our children for us.

“A lot of our schools slow students down,” he said. “We put computers in schools and the kids don’t come out thinking any better.”

Rather than just putting more gadgets and gizmos in the classroom, he said, each classroom needs to have fewer students, and kids who are further ahead than their peers should be nurtured, not forced to fall in line.

Dismissing the concern over giving artificial intelligence too much intelligence, he said that’s already happened.

“The machines won 200 years ago. We made them too important,” said Wozniak. “That makes us the family pet.”•

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Here’s a thought about the future you don’t hear much: Steve Wozniak tells the Australian Financial Review that humans will be interrupted, permanently so, by machines, unless Moore’s Law finally sputters out. While quantum computing has proved a disappointment (and may be permanently beyond our reach), even if Gordon E. Moore’s rule hits a wall, that would probably only slow down the march of “progress,” not end it. An excerpt:

He said he has started to feel a contradictory sense of foreboding about the increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence, while still supporting the idea of continuing to push the boundaries of what technology can do


“Computers are going to take over from humans, no question,” Mr Wozniak said.

He said he had long dismissed the ideas of writers like Raymond Kurzweil, who have warned that rapid increases in technology will mean machine intelligence will outstrip human understanding or capability within the next 30 years. However Mr Wozniak said he had come to recognise that the predictions were coming true, and that computing that perfectly mimicked or attained human consciousness would become a dangerous reality.

“Like people including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have predicted, I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people. If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they’ll think faster than us and they’ll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently,” Mr Wozniak said.

“Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on? I don’t know about that … But when I got that thinking in my head about if I’m going to be treated in the future as a pet to these smart machines … well I’m going to treat my own pet dog really nice.”

Mr Wozniak said the negative outcome could be stopped from occurring by the likely end of Moore’s Law, the pattern whereby computer processing speeds double every two years.•


Steve Wozniak, who recently damned Tesla cars with faint praise, selling the Datsun 280-ZX in 1979.


Auto-correct, that imperfect thing, is both boon and bane. Steve Wozniak wants his spoken words corrected also. From the Apple co-founder’s interview with Nate Lanxon of Wired UK:

Since doing so in the 1970s with Steve Jobs, Wozniak has turned much of his attention, time and money to education and new businesses. Presently serving as chief scientist at flash storage company Fusion-io, he also readily invests in new technologies and applications. ‘The best things that capture your imagination are ones you hadn’t thought of before,’ says Wozniak, ‘and that aren’t talked about in the news all the time.’

High on the list of ideal candidates are apps that take a smarter approach to the use of human speech, ones ‘where you talk to it like a normal person,’ he says, ‘the way you would talk to a human being.’

‘I want to be able to speak with errors in my wording, errors in my grammar,’ he continues. ‘When you type things into Google search it corrects your words. With speech, I want it to be general enough, smart enough, to know ‘no, he couldn’t have meant these words that I think he said. He must have really meant something similar.’ That’s going to take a lot of software, a lot of artificial intelligence work over the next five to ten years.'”


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If you have a New Yorker subscription, it’s very worth checking out “Bytes and Chips,” a 1977 “Talk of the Town” piece by Anthony Hiss which profiled the burgeoning personal computer culture. It’s the magazine’s first mention of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, though not by name. The central figure in the brief article is Vern Crawford, a Texas electronics entrepreneur. An excerpt:

“I’m also sitting on one of the big stories of the late seventies and early eighties: the personal computer–a full-sized computer (in function) available in kit form for less than two thousand dollars, which when completely assembled is about as big as an Olivetti typewriter. Hackers, as personal-computer constructors have dubbed themselves, are already building the machines by the thousand all over the country; they’ve formed clubs like the Homebrew, and they’re serviced by a number of small retail computer stores and by national magazines, including one called Byte, which is published in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and which, after twenty monthly issues, has grown to a press run of eighty-eight thousand. Vern, a typical hacker, worked in electronics in the Air Force for fourteen years as a radio technician, following two years as a merchant seaman. He also has a degree in economics from San Jose State and is a former personnel officer in Lockheed, and likes to call himself a former merchant seaman and a roughneck. The kits that Vern and his compeers are working on require a certain basic knowledge of digital electronics, but within six months, according to Carl Helmers, the editor of Byte, the field will be completely accessible to ignoramuses like me: Heathkit, the famous kit people, who already market a color-TV kit that an orangutan can assemble, will offer a computer kit next fall. And in just a matter of weeks a couple of men in their twenties from Los Altos, California, the next town over from Mountain View, will start selling Apple II, which Helmers calls the first appliance computer–a fully assembled briefcase-size unit, with a large memory and a keyboard, that can play any number of computer games, draw pictures on your color TV, and operate like any other computer, using the TV as its display. Cost of Apple II: thirteen hundred dollars.”

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Steve Wozniak made some buzzed-about, revisionist comments about Apple at the “Go Further with Ford” conference last week, which no doubt contained a lot of truth, though as an outsider I can’t agree with it all. He pointed out Jobs’ flaws as a leader in his first go-around at the company and gave more credit to the vilified John Sculley and the forgotten Gil Amelio (who hired ace designer Jonathan Ive). All that’s good.

But I think his diminution of the MacIntosh isn’t particularly fair on some levels. I understand it wasn’t an immediate commercial success nor a perfect machine, but it was, more than any other, the computer that made the general public embrace the coming Digital Age and forget the horrors of working on Honeywells and the like. It showed what was possible even if it didn’t realize all the potential itself. 

Another topic the Woz addressed was Tesla’s electric Model S, which he passed on purchasing at last moment, much to the consternation of Elon Musk. An excerpt from the Verge:


So give me thoughts on the Model S…specifically, I’m wondering about your thoughts on the center console.

Steve Wozniak:

Yes. To me, you know, it’s not horrible. If you take it into account, you can use it. I’m good for it. But for most people, I have so much trouble in a car, driving with touchscreens, that I worry about people trying to access the screen while they’re driving. I worry about that a lot, and I don’t think it’s that attractive. It’s not unattractive — not totally ugly at least — but the controls in the Mercedes are so ergonomic, they fit your hand, you never have to look at them, you can feel where your hand is. So I do have a reservation about that, but not enough to turn me off. I think it’s a great car, I think it’s the first electric car that was worth anything. I look at it as, all the electric cars so far have been very tiny so they get better mileage on smaller batteries, you know, they can go 30 miles… or they were sports cars. Well, this is the first one, it’s a luxury car, a big sedan that fits five people comfortably. Well, my gosh, those are the people that are going out and buying $100,000 Mercedes already, so a $100,000 car… money doesn’t matter. The fact that $40,000 is batteries, they don’t see it as much.

So I think they found the right market niche that might be permanent, might be enough to keep a company sustained. And the next step is to bring it to a lower-priced market. And the idea of the replaceable batteries means you buy your battery per mile. You lease the battery, you don’t own it. You only buy the car. That’s a step that’ll appease the other crowd. Luxury guys, I think, really want to own their own battery and don’t even want to swap it with somebody else’s — they want to know what they got.

But it is a problem because you do have to pay now for the battery, and you have to pay for the electricity. As opposed to, you know, just gasoline. So it’s going to probably be more expensive per mile that way, and the economic factor might come into play. But that makes me think, you know, just driving into this building, we passed Ford’s fuel cell research division and I thought, oh my gosh! The words we heard last night from [Ford CEO Alan Mulally] … he mentioned fuel cells, he mentioned electric vehicles. Well, those two go together perfectly. You have to lose energy if you know physics, but it transfers so efficiently to the wheels, that’s why it can still make sense economically. And then you don’t have to carry this huge weight of batteries and the huge cost of the batteries. There are different problems with that one, though.

You know, we keep trying to find the way to clean energy … I’m not smarter than all the people who work on it and research it and the scientists and the people and the laboratories, so it’s not like one person can have this beautiful vision nobody else has. It’s been a struggle my entire life to make better batteries, and all we ever really came up with was lithium ion. That was about it.”

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Nolan Bushnell, the Atari founder who famously nurtured Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, has published a new book, Finding the Next Steve Jobs. An excerpt from an interview Eric Johnson just did with him at All Things D:


Just how close were you to Steve after his brief involvement with Atari?

Nolan Bushnell: 

We’d talk on the phone infrequently, but he’d come up to [my house in] Woodside about once a month, usually on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and we’d go up on the hill and talk. Occasionally, I’d go down to his place, but a lot of the time it was him coming up to my place.


Why are we even looking for the ‘next Steve Jobs?’

Nolan Bushnell:

Steve took a failing computer company — and they probably would have never brought him back if they weren’t at the end of their rope — and turned it into the highest-market-cap company in the world. People were always aware that innovative solutions are good for your company. I think this just underscored it in a really powerful way. It wasn’t just through cutting costs or innovative marketing. Though Steve was a pretty good marketer.


But that was when he returned to Apple in 1997. Most of the time when people talk about the ‘next Steve Jobs,’ they’re using that phrase to refer to entrepreneurs who are still early on in their careers. So, are those people really that hard up for work?

Nolan Bushnell:

I believe there are Steve Jobses all around us. Really, what is happening is that they’re being edited out of importance. Right now, Google is doing some great things, but Hewlett-Packard is trying to commit suicide. Every company needs to have askunkworks, to try things that have a high probability of failing. You try to minimize failure, but at the same time, if you’re not willing to try things that are inherently risky, you’re not going to make progress.”

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Phone phreak turned Apple genius Steve Wozniak visits Merv Griffin in 1984.

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From an Ask Me Anything at Slashdot with Steve Wozniak, an exchange about improving American education:


Woz, what changes would you recommend to fix the K-12 education system in the U.S.?

Steve Wozniak:

Computers offered a real change in the tools of the classroom, but they don’t seem to have changed much. The learning is the same, only done via computers, for the most part. I had hoped for more.

I do want to feel a part of the big improvement someday, so I hope that there is some further step with computers. That would be when a computer becomes conscious and caring and becomes the best friend that each student wants to be with. It will look at their faces and speak the way that particular student likes and be a good friend more than a teacher.

One thing that has not changed over time in education is that we all, in a class, get the same material presentation together. The same pages as everyone else on Monday, the same pages on Tuesday, etc. Individuals as we are, we have different lapses along the way. A teacher could back up and explain something to fill in a gap, but each of the 30 students has different ‘gaps.’ The solution will be the equivalent of one teacher per student.

This opens the door to a student choosing to get only straight A’s, and only studying subjects they want to. And there will be more room to teach thinking and creativity and not all the same answer, which is not even their own answer, but out of a book. It’s a brave step, but right.

I learned the capital cities of all 50 states. How could anyone in life ever need to know such a worthless thing. The only worth is to show you can memorize it. But today it gets turned into a grade and a determination of what intelligence is. We have to break from that paradigm but can’t with today’s 30-student classes. Or should I say ‘day care?’

Schools are short of money because students don’t get a vote and votes turn into money. It’s a bad consequence of finding education to be a right and that means it has to be supplied by government. Government money follows votes. A family of 5 gets no more votes than a family of 2. Which wants the better school? But the votes by families of 2 are against more money for schools.”


Steve Wozniak holds forth on the future of computing in a new Vancouver Sun article. An excerpt:

“Ever the engineering scientist, he offered his view that within as few as 40 years computing technology will be so advanced that computers will nearly be sentient beings capable of personality.

‘The war against the machines was a long, long time ago,’ he said.

Mankind didn’t set out deliberately to create a brain, Wozniak said. But by first building computers, and then linking them through Arpanet, the forerunner of the Internet, and then creating search engines to handle the mass of information now available, the world ended up with a brain.

‘I think by accident we’re going to stumble on conscious computers that have feelings and look at you and understand how you’re doing,’ he said. ‘My iPhone has almost all the senses I have except taste and smell. It has an eye and an ear and it can feel when I am touching it and it can feel when it is being moved. It even knows where in the world it is from GPS. Even I don’t know that.”


Johnny Cash on John Henry: “You full of vinegar now but you ’bout through.”


In the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, his Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak talked to journalist Dan Lyons. In this segment, Woz recalls the early years:

How did you and Steve come up with the idea for the first Apple product, the Apple I?

Oh, a lot of people saw the Apple I before Steve Jobs even knew about it. I was in the Homebrew Computer Club. Steve was up in Oregon, working at an orchard, in a commune. We were really not in touch. But I got inspired to help this revolution. People in our club thought the personal computer would affect everyone’s life. We thought everyone would have a little computer, a little thing with switches and weird numbers on it, and people would learn to program to operate a computer. We didn’t think it would be normal stuff like it turned out to be.

I never wanted to run a business. I had a perfect job for life at HP. I went to club meetings every week and I passed out my schematics for the Apple I, no copyright, nothing, just, “Hey all you guys here is a cheap way to build a computer.” I would demo it on a TV set.

Then Steve Jobs came in from Oregon, and he saw what the club was about, and he saw the interest in my design. I had the only one that was really affordable. Our first idea was just to make printed circuit boards. We could make them for 20 dollars and sell them for 40 or something like that. I had given the schematics away. But Steve thought it could be a company.

This was actually our fifth product together. We always were 50-50 partners. We were best friends. We first did the blue boxes. The next one I did was I saw Pong at a bowling alley so I built my own Pong with 28 chips. I was at HP designing calculators. Steve saw Pong and ran down to Atari and showed it to them and they hired him. Whether they thought he had participated in the design, I don’t know and I could not care less. They offered him a job and put him on the night shift. They said he doesn’t get along with people very well, he’s very independent minded. It rubbed against people. So they put him on the night shift alone.

Our next project was when Steve said that Nolan (Bushnell, head of Atari) wanted a one-player game with bricks that you hit out. He said we could get a lot of money if we could design it with very few chips. So we built that one and got paid by Atari.

The legend is that Steve cheated you out of some money on that deal.

The legend is true. It didn’t matter to me. I had a job. Steve needed money to buy into the commune or something. So we made Breakout and it was a half-man-year job but we did it in four days and nights. It was a very clever design.” (Thanks Browser.)

Super Breakout, 1978;

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Ronald Wayne: Not even a free iPod. (Image by Wayne Kottke.)

It’s tough to say how Apple Computers co-founder Ronald Wayne would have spent $22 billion dollars, and we’ll never know for sure. Wayne was the minority partner to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at the formation of Apple in 1976, and his ten-percent stake would be worth an insane fortune if he had held on to it. But Wayne, who had previously suffered through painful business failures, had misgivings about the wildly talented Jobs and Woz, so he sold his stake back to them after just 12 days.

Bruce Newman of the San Jose Mercury News caught up with Wayne in Pahrump, Nevada, recently to write the piece “Apple’s Lost Founder: Jobs, Woz and Wayne,” and asked him about what might have been. All these years later, he seems more baffled than bitter regarding his fate. An excerpt:

“It’s usually past midnight when Ron Wayne, co-founder of Apple–colossus of the tech world, and Silicon Valley’s most adored franchise–leaves his home here and heads into town. Averting his eyes from a boneyard of abandoned mobile homes, he drives past Terrible’s Lakeside Casino & RV Park, then makes a left at the massage parlor built in the shape of a castle.

When he arrives at that night’s casino of choice, Wayne makes a beeline for the penny slot machines. If it’s the middle of the month and he has just cashed his Social Security check, he will keep battling the one-armed bandits until 2 a.m. Wayne is waiting to hit the jackpot, and he is long overdue.

If Ron Wayne, now 76, weren’t one of the most luckless men in the history of Silicon Valley, it wouldn’t have turned out like this.

He was present at the birth of cool on April Fool’s Day, 1976: Co-founder—along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak—of the Apple Computer Inc., Wayne designed the company’s original logo, wrote the manual for the Apple I computer, and drafted the fledgling company’s partnership agreement.

That agreement gave him a 10 percent ownership stake in Apple, a position that would be worth about $22 billion today if Wayne had held onto it.

But he didn’t.”

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