Steve Wozniak at Microsoft

One of the things I love about Microsoft is that you often get talk with, or listen to interesting people.  Over the years, I got to shake hands with Steven Spielberg (wearing a Microsoft Bob baseball cap), Jay Leno (Windows 95 launch), Stevie Wonder (accessibility event), and just the other week, former NFL player Mike Utley.  I just missed out on meeting Muhammad Ali once because I was heads down on shipping IE 4.01.

Today, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer came by the campus.  "Woz" as his is commonly known, was a electronics geek in his teens and designed many little gadgets before Steve Jobs convinced him to sell his micro computer design that HP rejected.  That became the Apple I in 1976.

Woz was giving a speech and signing copies of his book, "iWoz". He gave a well practicied, but informal talk about his early years of fiddling with electronic things and his early interactions with Steve Jobs.

Jobs and Woz considered themselves best friends, but in all the accounts of I've read of both men, they really couldn't be much different.  Woz was grounded and knew he wanted to be an engineer, while Jobs was a free spririt.  In his talk, he didn't dispell that image.  Woz describes Jobs as having a lot of strange friends, doing strange things, and being a "free thinker" several times.  It makes me wonder what they saw in each other in the first place.

In all, a nice talk by Steve.

UPDATE on Monday, October 9, 2006:  Port 25 has a video interview with Woz on the day he visited.

UPDATE on Monday, October 9, 2006:  Reworded portion on Apple I for clarity.  Thanks Josh.

Comments (10)
  1. kvn says:

    Thats pretty cool that famous people stop by MS n what not… Good to hear ya’ll friendly over at the M$ headquarters.

    <3 still think windwos should be free.. everything software alike should be.. but.. thenagain.. it shouldnt.. #pirate

  2. Ken says:

    Woz and Paul Allen are not like you and me and Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer and Steve Jobs. These guys are in another dimension, they are much better individuals than what we seek to be. It just happens that Paul Allen rejected Microsoft, expecially because of what the company did with him while he spent arount 10 years in the hospital, and after that (by the mid-90’s) he sold most of his Microsoft stock and made his own fortune by doing things that matter, while Woz kept teaching children and doing fun stuff. The others? They were just attracted by money.

  3. Josh says:

    You said, “It makes me wonder what they saw in each other in the first place.”

    What they saw? Probably the potential to create a company that would invent or popularize most of the computing paradigms you now use in your own operating system. I’m guessing that’s probably what they saw. I think it’s shocking that anyone would suggest they weren’t a good fit.

    I also really like Woz. I met him briefly once a few months ago, and he’s a really friendly, easy-going guy.

  4. Hey says:

    Hey man, have you ever seen Pirates of Silicon Valley? Its a movie about how apple and microsoft started. It even has Jobs doing meth in it.

  5. MSDN Archive says:

    kvn:  Microsoft Research sponsers a "Visiting Speakers" series that brings in a number of distinguished guests and experts in many, many fields.  Most of the sessions are live streamed on the internal network so you can watch from your desk and listen while doing something else.  

    Of course I disagree that Windows or any software should be "free".  How else do you suggest that people be compenstated for the work they do to produce software?

  6. MSDN Archive says:

    Ken:  I’ve been fortunete enough to be able to work with Bill on occasion and other high level executives at Microsoft.  I generally agree that they have gotten their positions by sheer talent, determination, and many other talents I do not possess.  I know from personal experience that moeny is not the sole driving force of many of the icons in the industry.  I think Bill’s pending retirement to focus on his foundation is a good example.

    I’ve always admired Woz for doing what he loved and wanted to do.  Now, during his talk on Friday, he explicitely said "We did the US Festivals to make money … and they didn’t make money so we didn’t do any more."  Now, I think Woz is one of the most altruistic people in the industry, and the US Festivals had great intentions, but they were done to make money for Woz and the other organizers.

    Your comment about Paul Allen rejecting Microsoft is way off base in my opinion.  Allen is a savvy investor and decided to do more than just software.  If you say that Paul Allen does "things that matter" and imply that Gates was "just attracted to the money" then you are not familiar with the work of either man.  They have both done a great deal work in making money and in giving away money for humanity and science.  

  7. MSDN Archive says:

    Josh:  In his talk, Woz reiterates that he was very happy to stay at HP and initially wanted HP to produce the computer design that became the Apple I.  To hear Woz tell it, Jobs tried to convince Woz to make money off very creation of his, from Dial-A-Joke, to the Blue Box to the Apple I.

    By saying that Jobs and Woz weren’t a good fit, I mean no insult to either.  Obviously they were a good enough fit to create Apple and see it through it’s formitive years.

    I thought that Woz was a very friendly and very easy going person as well.

  8. MSDN Archive says:

    Hey:  I did see "Pirates of Silicon Valley" and actually enjoyed it very much; despite being a amateur historian of the micro computer industry and a anal perfectionist of movies.

    Don’t take that movie as gospel;  Many of the scenes are plain made up, but in general they got the spirit right while getting many facts wrong.  I enjoyed the acting very much and liked how the movie linked Apple’s famous "1984" with the MacWorld event of Gates "salivation" of Apple in August 1997.

    It’s been widely rumored that Jobs was not adverse to using chemicals in attempts to expand his thinking, there’s nothing to suggest he’s ever taken ‘meth’.  I think the movie speculates Jobs tripping on peyote, but that may or may not reflect an actual incident.

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