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founders at work wozniak

So Steve was arguing for 2 slots. We started selling the Apple Is, and I stayed at Hewlett-Packard. We also did one called Checkbook, which would let you reconcile your checks on the computer. How? We were in that office building that I described earlier. What was different? Cromemco had a color system. It's the best company because it's so good to engineers." Chips back then were... like I said, to buy a computer built, it was like a downpayment on a good house. He looked at it and didn't say too much. Just before I left Hewlett-Packard, a new chip had come out. They kept me as an Apple employee. I felt very weird—that was the direction in life that I was going to be a part of when it happened. I saw arcade games—the first arcade game, Pong, that really made it big—so I designed one of those on my own. So the idea was that we'd start this company and build PC boards for $20 and sell them for $40. So I didn't know the first thing about them. To me, I needed one thing. All the best things that I did at Apple came from (a) not having money and (b) not having done it before, ever. This one was: take the terminal that I already have that works on my TV set and has a keyboard. I think it was that Chuck Peddle knew what he could design, but he knew that he couldn't design what the Apple II was. So now I had this video terminal, and he said, "There's a local time-sharing outfit that buys these expensive terminals. Wozniak: Steve and I never really had an argument. One was that we're getting close to shipping it and we wanted things to be low cost. So I stayed here and I moved into another division of Hewlett-Packard across the street that made the Hewlett-Packard 3000 minicomputers. Then I got it to where it was reading the data in the right byte positions. But I didn't learn anything about designing computers in college. So never once did he even try. I went to management, and I had three levels of bosses above me in a room and a couple of other engineers, and I presented the ideas and told them what we could do at what price and how it would work. I came up with an approach of writing a certain kind of data, a certain pattern, AA D5 AA 55, some pattern like that. I was afraid, part way through my floppy disk design, that I would never be able to solve that problem. And it turns out that it was very important; it was very beneficial. So I left that day and the deal with Mike Markkula was that I'd have the same salary starting Apple. Steve knew Ron at Atari and liked him. And that allowed me to develop further to start typing my ones and zeros. No, it was all done with wires and gates and chips and registers, and it was very difficult back then. Mike Markkula was close to Ann Bowers at the time (she was the wife of Robert Noyce, I think) and she was taking over our human resources. We didn't make it a hidden machine that we own—we sell it, it does this, you got it—like Commodore and RadioShack did. Livingston: How did they know you? What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Interview: Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder, Apple Computer If any one person can be said to have set off the personal computer revolution, it might be Steve Wozniak. There was no need for me to go. And he'd say, "How do you know?" Livingston: Do you think that that's a recipe for being good at something: you've never done it before and you are trying to do it on the cheap? He wrote the manual. So Don wasn't that interested, but he gave us the name of Mike Markkula—Mike being a person who was interested in technology, who was looking around for things to do. Steve really wanted to make a company. And I like that sort of thing. Livingston: You got mono once because of this? We added color. If I spun it around at the right rate, the data that comes out of that chip looks like color TV. And I started pulling up the datasheet on that chip, and I started coming up with my first ideas of "how do I have that chip get the data to a floppy disk?" These people are celebrities now. My whole life was basically trying to optimize things. I was just telling him that that's the only place I could save any chips. Because we came out with a floppy disk. And I didn't; I had an engineering job at Hewlett-Packard. I loved my division. Livingston: Is there anything that people have wrong about the early days of Apple? I can't remember the name of the company out of the east, but a venture group. My kids should see their dad with a college degree. It would be like $5000 and, I'm sorry, but we were all low-level, just barely-getting-along type people that had this interest in having our own computers. So that was my motivation. He always had something very quick to say and, wow, it sounded like he was very knowledgeable about this stuff. Wozniak: We actually never talked about it even once. The parts got stuffed into the computers, we made them work, we delivered them to the store and got paid in cash. The hardest thing was though, after having a big success... see, I didn't seek the success, I wasn't like the entrepreneur who wants it. We had very strong music influences in those days, and it was more songs about living and life and where we're going and where we're from and what's it all about and what works and what doesn't. Look at this, go ahead—change the color of the bricks." It had all these kinds of things and not one bug ever found. So a bunch of Apple engineers and marketing people got to benefit from going public. You start with a lot of motives and values and who you are going to be in life. The reason is that's the minimum computer to run a programming language. And I had a lot going against me because I didn't have a computer to compile my code, my software. A couple thousand bucks. I also knew that there were numbers and variables and you have operations like plus and minus, times, divide. It's like every book I read that I just think, "God, this is not how this person was at all." So I got to write a computer language, but remember I've never written one in my life. That was the most expensive thing to getting my terminal built. Livingston: How did you find him? It would send out signals to cause the right things to happen and the next address, the next place—it's called a state. My thinking was always, in making something possible, you've got to get it down to a reasonable cost, but I needed 4K bytes of RAM minimum. If you've got the world's best selling computer, keep it going as much as it can. In the old days, several people would use one computer all at the same time. We had one office and Steve had arranged that we only pay for half of it until a certain date when we'd use the rest. None of this 0 and 1 stuff. I actually wound up doing some great work at Hewlett-Packard using that as my computer. We would owe a ton of money on those chips. And then my career started going up, and I had all these side projects that I was working on and then Apple. If you say, "I have to have a tool," and you are a prima donna, "I have to have a certain development system"—if you can't figure out a way to test something and get it working, I don't think you're the right type of person to be an entrepreneur. We didn't even have the word "personal computer" yet; that came about a little later. Once I got that much of the Basic done, we had to store a big program efficiently somehow on mass media. The only designs that ever took place in the Apple I or II for hardware or software were in my apartment in Cupertino or my cubicle at Hewlett-Packard late at night. And then I came up with this clever little approach. Basic is like a hundred to a thousand times slower than machine language, so I don't know if it's possible. Wozniak: That was very tough. You get all these things at once if you use the right approaches. It may takes up to 1-5 minutes before you received it. It was very successful, a little 256-byte ROM and a little 6-bit register, I think. Well, I only knew the club as a place to sell it and I thought, "Are there 50 people at the club"—I had a group gathering around me—"who are going to buy this computer instead of the Intel?" It needed a Basic, there was no other choice. I am down to like what is just amazing in the world. Wozniak: That didn't happen. It was too cheap for our division, and the other ones wouldn't touch it even more. It can run a language, but there's no language yet for this microprocessor. Not only that, other people came out with cards that put 80 columns of text on the screen so you could see more.

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