Adonis Diaries

Steve Wozniak on Steve Jobs

Posted on: October 13, 2011

Steve Wozniak on Steve Jobs

This is an extract from the autobiography iWoz, which I translated from Arabic, and previously from the French version, go figure!

Steve Wozniak wrote: “My first encounter with Jobs was thanks to “cream soda” computer, a first version of personal computer in the early 70’s.  I was 4 years older than Jobs who was still in Los Altos high school, a few miles from Sunnyvale where I lived. Jobs was of the same age as my friend Bill Fernandez.

One day, Fernandez told me: “I recently met Steve Jobs.  This guy is in love with technology and very funny.  You must meet him”

We got together at Fernandez home and we shot the breeze outside. We realized that we shared many interests.

I had hard time explaining to Jobs the intricacies of the small computer version that I was designing, but he was a quick learner, and I liked this slender and energetic guy.

Jobs paid us a visit in the garage of Fernandez where we were assembling a computer from scratch. My main project in high school was to own my personal computer that would be flexible enough to be programmed in FORTRAN.

To me, digital age started in March 1975.

We formed a group called “Homebrew Computer Club” and met in the garage of Gordon French, who was jobless at the time. It is in that period that I started designing my Apple A.

Jobs was interested if I could expand the capability to include Time Sharing facilities like the one offered by “Cal Computer“.  I said: “Sure I can, but not immediately”

Later, Jobs asked: “Could we add a disk for saving data?” I replied “Sure I can, shortly…” I was using DRAM of AMI.

Jobs asked: “Could we substitute this DRAM to the one produced by INTEL?”  I said sure I can, but I cannot afford this better product…”

A few calls later, Jobs secured a few fee samples of these expensive and rare INTEL DRAMs.  In such matters, Jobs was priceless: If left to me, I would have never made the appropriate called; I am very introvert…

In November 1976, Jobs proposed that we build electronic cards for the various computer designs (costing $20 a piece) and selling them for $40 to the club members.  Arithmetic showed that we could not generate any profit, given that we needed one thousand dollars in investment and the number of club members was below 50.

While driving, Jobs said: “You know, even if we lose money, we would have instituted our own company, our first.”

By early 1977, we had sold 150 computers,  We were touring and crisscrossing California, and dropping on retail stores, on the look-out for agents to our Apple A.

Note 1: William Choukeir told me that Steve Wozniak was a super technician, while Jobs was the super programmer in the partnership: When Jobs worked at Atari, he was paid $650 for every redundant ship he could remove from the design.  The design of the computer game got so anorexic that the company paid Steve $5,000 bonus.  I thought that Steve Wozniak was the programmer for the first Apple A computer.  In the 70’s, I don’t think there was any serious demarcation line between the two professions. In the last two decades, computer designers and programmers are two distinct fields of study. Any feedback?

Note 2: This post is translated from Arabic in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar, itself translated from the French daily Le Monde, just because the “private library”, at walking distance from home, does not carry English books, dailies, or magazines. Hope my version is as readable and accurate as the original.

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October 2011

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