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Stephen Gary "Woz" Wozniak (born August 11, 1950 in San Josemarker, Californiamarker) is an Americanmarker computer engineer who founded Apple Computer, Inc. (now Apple Inc.marker) with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne. His inventions and machines are credited with contributing significantly to the personal computer revolution of the 1970s. Wozniak created the Apple I and Apple II computers in the mid-1970s. The Apple II gained much popularity, eventually becoming one of the best selling personal computers of the 1970s and early 1980s.

Wozniak has several nicknames, including "The Woz", "Wonderful Wizard of Woz" and "iWoz" (a reference to the ubiquitous naming scheme for Apple products). "WoZ" (short for "Wheels of Zeus") is also the name of a company Wozniak founded. He is sometimes known as the "Other Steve" of Apple Computer, the better known Steve being co-founder Steve Jobs. He is of Polish descent.

Apple Computer

Origins of Apple

In 1970, Wozniak had become friends with Steve Jobs, when Jobs had a summer job at the same business where Wozniak was working on a mainframe computer. According to Wozniak's autobiography, iWoz, Jobs had the idea to sell the computer as a fully assembled PC board. Wozniak, at first skeptical, was later convinced by Jobs that even if they were not successful they could at least say to their grandkids they had their own company. Together they sold some of their possessions (such as Wozniak's HP scientific calculator and Jobs' Volkswagen van), raised USD$1,300, and assembled the first prototypes in Jobs' bedroom and later (when there was no space left) in Jobs' garage. Wozniak's apartment in San Jose was filled with monitors, electronic devices, and Wozniak had developed some computer games, similar to SuperPong but that had voice overs to the blips on the screen. Wozniak carried electronic devices with him often, and would entertain party goers with novel devices.

By 1975, Wozniak withdrew from the University of California, Berkeleymarker (he would later return to finish his B.S. in EECS, which he received in 1986 enrolled under the alias Steve Gary) and came up with the computer that eventually made him famous. However, he was largely working to impress other members of the Palo Altomarker-based Homebrew Computer Club, a local group of electronics hobbyists.

On April 1, 1976, Jobs and Wozniak formed Apple Computermarker. Wozniak quit his job at Hewlett-Packard and became the vice president in charge of research and development at Apple. Their first product, the Apple I computer, was similar to the Altair 8800, the first commercially available personal computer, except it had no provision for internal expansion cards. With the addition of these cards, the Altair could be attached to a computer terminal and could be programmed in BASIC. The Apple I was purely a hobbyist machine, a $25 microprocessor (MOS 6502) on a single-circuit board with 256 bytes of ROM, 4K or 8K bytes of RAM and a 40 character by 24 row display controller. It lacked a case, power supply, keyboard, or display, which had to be provided by the user. The Apple I was priced at $666.66. (Wozniak later said he had no idea about the correlation between the number and the mark of the beast, and "I came up with [it] because I like repeating digits." It was $500 plus a 33% markup.) Jobs and Wozniak sold their first 100 computers to Paul Terrell, who was starting a new computer shop, called the Byte Shop, in Mountain View, Californiamarker. Terrell bought just the circuit board for the Apple I; he had to supply the keyboard, monitor, transformer, and even the case in which to put the computer.

Excerpt from the Apple I design manual, including Wozniak's hand-drawn diagrams

Wozniak could now focus full-time on fixing the shortcomings of the Apple I and adding new functionality. His new design was to retain the most important characteristics: simplicity and usability. Wozniak introduced high-resolution graphics in the Apple II. His computer could now display pictures instead of just letters: "I threw in high-res. It was only two chips. I didn't know if people would use it." By 1978, he had also designed an inexpensive floppy-disk drive controller. He and Randy Wigginton wrote a simple disk operating system and file system. Shepardson Microsystems was contracted to build a simple command line interface for the disk operating system.

In addition to designing the hardware, Wozniak wrote most of the software initially provided with the Apple. He wrote a programming language interpreter, a set of virtual 16-bit processor instructions known as SWEET 16, a Breakout game (which was also a reason to add sound to the computer), the code needed to control the disk drive, and more.

In 1980, Apple went public and made Jobs and Wozniak multimillionaires. However, Jobs had refused to allow some employees of Apple to receive stock options, so Wozniak decided to share some of his founder stock with the rest of the team by either giving them away for free or at a heavily discounted price. This was dubbed "The Woz Plan".

Aircraft accident

In February 1981, Steve Wozniak crashed his Beechcraft Bonanza while taking off from Santa Cruz Sky Parkmarker. The NTSB investigation revealed that Wozniak did not have a "high performance" endorsement (making him legally unqualified to operate the airplane), and had a "lack of familiarity with [the] aircraft." The cause of the crash was determined to be a premature liftoff, followed by a stall and "mush" into a 12-foot embankment. As a result of the accident, he had retrograde amnesia and temporary anterograde amnesia. He had no recollection of the accident and, for a while, did not even know he had been involved in a crash. He also did not remember his hospital stays or the things he did after he was released: he followed his previous routine (except for flying), but could not recall what had happened. He would walk into rooms and forget why he was there and couldn't even remember which day it was. For example, he would go to work on Sunday, or stay home on a Wednesday, thinking it was the weekend. He began to piece together clues from what people told him. He asked his girlfriend, Candice Clark (an early Apple employee who worked in the accounting department), whether he had been involved in an accident of some kind. When she told him about the event, his short-term memory was restored; Wozniak also credits Apple II computer games for aiding him in restoring those "lost" memories. Wozniak and Clark got engaged later that year.

Ending employment with Apple

Wozniak did not immediately return to Apple after recovering from the crash. Instead, he married Clark and returned to UC Berkeley under the name "Rocky Raccoon Clark" (Rocky was his dog's name and Clark his wife's maiden name), finally earning his undergraduate degree in 1986. In May 1982 and 1983, Wozniak also sponsored two US Festivals to celebrate evolving technologies; they ended up as a technology exposition and a rock festival as a combination of music, computers, television and people.

In 1983 he decided to return to Apple product development, but he wanted no more of a role than that of an engineer and a motivational factor for the Apple workforce.

Wozniak permanently ended his full-time employment with Apple on February 6, 1987, 12 years after creating the company. He still remains an employee (and receives a paycheck) and is a shareholder. He also maintains connections with Steve Jobs.

Post-Apple career

Wozniak founded a new venture called CL 9, which developed and brought the first universal remote control to market in 1987. Wozniak also taught fifth-grade students.

In 2001, Wozniak co-founded Wheels of Zeus (note the acronym, "WoZ"), to create wireless GPS technology to "help everyday people find everyday things." In 2002, he joined the Board of Directors of Ripcord Networks, Inc., joining Ellen Hancock, Gil Amelio, Mike Connor, and Wheels of Zeus co-founder Alex Fielding, all Apple alumni, in a new telecommunications venture. Later the same year he joined the Board of Directors of Danger, Inc., the maker of the Hip Top (a.k.a. Side Kick from T-Mobile).

In 2006, Wheels of Zeus was closed, and Wozniak founded Acquicor Technology, a shell company for acquiring technology companies and developing them, with Apple alumni Ellen Hancock and Gil Amelio.

In September 2006, Wozniak published his autobiography, iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. It was co-authored by writer Gina Smith.

In March 2006, Wozniak attended the FIRST National Competition in Atlanta to show off Lego robots.

In February 2009 Steve Wozniak joined Fusion-io, a data storage and server company, in Salt Lake Citymarker, Utahmarker as their chief scientist.


Since leaving Apple, Wozniak has provided all the money, as well as a good amount of on-site technical support, for the technology program in his local school district. Un.U.Son. (Unite Us In Song), an organization Wozniak formed to organize the two US Festivals, is now primarily tasked with supporting his educational and philanthropic projects. In 1986, Wozniak lent his name to the Stephen G. Wozniak Achievement Awards (referred to as Wozzie Awards), which he presented to six Bay Area high school and college students for their innovative use of computers in the fields of business, art and music.

Honors and awards

Wozniak received the National Medal of Technology in 1985 from Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States In December 1989, he received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Colorado at Bouldermarker, where he studied in the late sixties. Later he donated funds to create the "Woz Lab" at the University of Colorado at Bouldermarker. In 1997, he was named a Fellow of the Computer History Museummarker. Wozniak was a key contributor and benefactor to the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose (the street in front of the museum has been renamed Woz Way in his honor).

In September 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Famemarker, and in 2001 he was awarded the 7th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment

In December 2005, Wozniak was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Kettering Universitymarker, in Flintmarker, Michiganmarker.He also received an honorary degree from North Carolina State Universitymarker, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology.


Wozniak is listed as the sole inventor on the following patents:
  • US Patent No. 4,136,359 - "Microcomputer for use with video display" - for which he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
  • US Patent No. 4,210,959 - "Controller for magnetic disc, recorder, or the like"
  • US Patent No. 4,217,604 - "Apparatus for digitally controlling PAL color display"
  • US Patent No. 4,278,972 - "Digitally-controlled color signal generation means for use with display"

Television appearances

After seeing her stand-up performance in Saratoga, California, Wozniak began dating comedienne Kathy Griffin. Together, they attended the 2007 Emmy Awards, and he subsequently made many appearances on the fourth season of her show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. Woz is on the show as her date for the Producers Guild of America award show. However, on a June 19, 2008 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Griffin confirmed that they are no longer dating and have decided to remain friends.

Wozniak portrays a parody of himself in the first episode of the television series Code Monkeys; he plays the owner of Gameavision before selling it to help fund Apple. He later appears again in the twelfth episode when he is in Las Vegas at the annual Video Game Convention and sees Dave and Jerry. He also appears in a parody of the "Get a Mac" ads featured in the final episode of Code Monkeys' second season. Wozniak is also interviewed and featured in the documentary Hackers Wanted and on BBC.

Wozniak competed on Season 8 of Dancing with the Stars in 2009where he danced with Karina Smirnoff. Despite Wozniak and Smirnoff receiving 10 combined points from the three judges out of 30, the lowest score of the evening, he remained in the competition. He later posted on a social networking site that he felt that the vote count was not legitimate and suggested that the Dancing with the Stars judges had lied about the vote count to keep him on the show. After being briefed on the method of judging and vote counting, he retracted and apologized for his statements. Despite suffering a pulled hamstring and a fracture in his foot, Wozniak continued to compete, but was eliminated from the competition on March 31, with a score of 12 out for 30 for an Argentine Tango.

Personal life

Wozniak lives in Los Gatos, California. He is a member of a Segway Polo team, the Silicon Valley Aftershocks. In 2006, they were challenged to a game by the newly formed New Zealand Pole Blacks (the Woz Challenge Cup); the match ended in a 2-2 tie, with the Woz Challenge Cup staying in Auckland. In 2007, the Silicon Valley Aftershocks avenged the tie by defeating the Pole Blacks 5-0 in the Woz Challenge Cup finals. The 2008 Woz Challenge Cup was held at the SegwayFesT 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana from 8 - 10 August 2008 (polo events ran 7 - 9 August 2008).

His favorite video game is Tetris. In the 1990s he submitted so many high scores for the game to Nintendo Power that they would no longer print his scores, so he started sending them in under the alphabetically reversed "Evets Kainzow".

He is also a sworn member of the Freemasons. Wozniak describes his impetus for joining the Freemasons as being able to spend more time with his wife at the time, Alice. Alice belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star, associated with the Masons. He says that although he took the necessary oaths and is a lifetime Freemason, he doesn't actually put a whole lot of stock in the mystical and religious overtones of the oath or the order. He says that he joined the Freemasons for one specific purpose, but he is very unlike the other members of the order. He says he quickly rose to a third degree Freemason because, whatever he does, he tries to do well. He was initiated in 1980 at Charity Lodge No. 362 in Campbell, CA.

He is married to Janet Hill. According to his ex-girlfriend Kathy Griffin, “He met someone very quickly and then they [got] engaged. I have had dinner with them, and she’s a thousand times more appropriate!”

In popular culture

  • An aphorism attributed to Wozniak, "Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window," is quoted, by Leonard Nimoy, in the game Civilization IV when players discover the "Computers" technology during single player games.
  • In the movie Camp Nowhere, Christopher Lloyd's character scams parents into sending their kids to a computer camp under the fake name of Dennis Wozniak.
  • Steve Wozniak is the inspiration behind Eureka 7 character Woz the Whiz.
  • Steve Wozniak was the original owner of fictional company Gameavison in Code Monkeys.

See also


External links




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