Steve Wozniak/Talk

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Time and again some portions of my articles have been removed as "copyrighted"!!! Please do not do that again: I indeed pasted it ready-made; however, I pasted it from my own article (http://www.supermemo.com/articles/genius.htm#Steve%20Wozniak). Please feel free to expand upon this text, but I would appreciate if you would leave this note intact. One reason is that I would not like anyone ever think that I steal material from Wikipedia to write my own articles! I just thought this would be a nice contribution. -- Piotr Wozniak


Piotr, I have to ask -- any relation to the Woz?

Also, you wrote that Woz is "universally credited with initiating the entry of computers into private homes." Really? Shouldn't that place in history be shared with his business partner, Steve Jobs?

<>< Tim Chambers


I also wonder about the relative timing and influence of Apple II vs. Altair; Commodore PET; Tandy; Heathkit; Atari 400/800; TI99; Sinclare; ... How was Woz's contribution unique compared to these others? Where was he first, and where did it matter? The fact that he was a garage hardware hacker is the most unique quality I can see, and the last unique contribution Apple attempted to make was Steve Jobs putting Multitasking and GUI features (Taken from PARC) in the Lisa. The MAC was a lame compromise.

--Jonathan--


I can share a little of my experience at the time: a few hobbyist-geeks (like me) had CP/M machines at home before the Apple II came out, and the TRS/80 and Commodore PET came out first, but it really was the Apple II that made the term "home computer" meaningful. I agree with Tim, though, that this was due no less to Jobs' marketing than Wozniak's technical genius, though some of that marketing involved selling Wozniak's personality. On the other hand, the Apple II was a technical marvel for being able to pack as much functionality as it had into a small single circuitboard with cheap parts, making it affordable for ordinary folks; Wozniak certainly deserves credit for that as well (the video system in particular was pure genius). Before the Apple II, the guy on your block with a computer was like that guy on your block with a ham radio--something of an oddity. It wasn't until Apple IIs invaded homes and schools everywhere that people started sharing programs and data, and that's when the personal computer era really took off. Users of other computers had to form their own user groups to share things, and had some moderate following, but Apple was kind of the "default" PC of the time (until the IBM PC took over). --LDC


  1. Naturally, Steve Wozniak (tech-brain) and Steve Jobs (market wiz) were two vital organs of the same organism that would not walk when incomplete. If the text leaves this in doubt, please edit the place where it arises
  2. My understanding is that Apple I was a quantum leap over Altair, and all models and brands that followed were inevitably relegated to become footnotes to history. Quantification is impossible but if all designs were to be deleted from history, probably Apple would leave the greatest footmark on the future
  3. Name Wozniak is as popular in Poland as Smith in the US :)

"Affordability" is a key factor. As important a contribution as the technical features. That's why, in the long run, Macintosh was so much more important than Lisa (or Star). Re the success of the original Apple (II), I believe that the early availability of an affordable floppy disk drive (thanks again to Woz's genius) was the most important factor. - HWR

    • You are right with affordability. However, it resulted from Woz'es ability to put three chips where others would put four. Hence I consider his technical expertise as the root of Apple's success -- Piotr Wozniak

Wow! Quite the hagiography. -- The Cunctator


If affordability was the key the Commodore Vic20/64 and Sinclare really did the most for creating the HOME computer, and were at least as important as the Apple II (the Apple 1 was just a hobbiest machine like the Heathkit). The floppy drive was good, but at $600 hardly affordable. Jobs did a really good job of marketing to schools displacing the TRS/80 machines which were their first. In 1982 the Apple II was still quite expensive compared to the C64 with less memory and inferior graphics and sound. The Atari 800 was also a pretty strong machine at the time, and probably was the first HOME computer with good multi-media capabilities. None of this discounts Woz, but I object to saying that he created the PC. The technology in the Lisa, marketing to education, and the expansion slots in the Apple II were probably Apples biggest innovations.

--Jonathan--


I have to disagree. I was there (at least in the US market--I understand the UK market of the time was very different). The Commodore machines and the Sinclair never really mattered. Sure, they were cheap, and had somthing of a cult following, but the numbers never got anywhere close to those of the Apple II. The Sinclair machine was hopelessly underpowered and not well-supported, so it flopped completely in the US (it had some success in the UK). The Commodore machines (PET/VIC-20/C-64) fared somewhat better, but they shot themselves in the foot by not being compatible with each other, not being upgradeable, not supporting third-part software well, etc. I think their market share may have gone as high as 15%, but they were never really a factor. The one that came closest to Apple II's dominance was the Radio Shack TRS-80, pushed by the power of Tandy corp and using then-standard CP/M. Their techonolgy fell behind though (most notably lack of color), so they faded away.

I wouldn't say "Woz created the PC" either, but I would definitely say that the Apple II was the PC that put the term "PC" in the mouths of the American public, and Woz's innovations (its video system, its floppy system, its expansion slot system, and others) helped significantly (as did Jobs' marketing). --LDC


I could be wrong, but my perception was that in the USA of the machines being sold IN 1983 that Commordore was a MUCH larger market share than 15% (more like 30% vs. 35% for Apple). Futhermore, Europe was even more strongly in the Commodore camp. Real numbers would be a really interesting addition to this article. :-)


In the US, he Atari 400/800, Commodore 64, Sinclair, etc. were strictly consumer machines, not taken seriously by businesses. The Apple II sold to businesses as well as prosumers and hobbyists, which is why it was important; its success got the attention of Xerox, DEC, IBM. In addition, the Apple II was already well-established by the time these machines appeared. 1983? By that time the revolution was over!