Steve Wozniak's childhood had a big effect on his revolutionary developments in the computer world. Wozniak grew up in Sunnyvale California. His family lived in a development built for Lockheed engineers like his father. (Rose, 26) As a teenager he w During his high school years, Wozniak was a prankster and was once suspended for placing a metronome disguised as a bomb in a friends locker. (Brodhagen, 1)
The more serious side of Wozniak loved electronics and spent one day a week working at Sylvania Electronics, where Wozniak's love for computers grew. Wozniak was working with electronics from an early age. In 1962 Wozniak built a calculator using a few electronic components and entered it in a local science fair. (Brodhagen, 1) It won him a prize. In 1971 Wozniak and his friend Bill Fernandez built a computer in FernandezÕs garage. (Rose,25-26) They called it t Wozniak decided to go the University of California at Berkeley after he returned from C! olorado State. While he was there, his mother sent him an article about a mysterious person who called himself ÒCaptain Crunch.Ó (Rose, 27) Crunch would build electronic boxes, known as blue boxes, that mimicked the tones governing telephone company switching equipment. This allowed him to make free long distance phone calls. Apparently Crunch was the leader of an underground group who called themselves the Òphone phreaks.Ó They would use technology to get what they wanted, but they wope by staying one step ahead of the police. Wozniak was extremely interested and called his friend from high school, Steven Jobs. (Rose, 27) They decided to go into business selling them. Wozniak managed to make one which only used forty dollars worth of parts, instead of the 1,500 dollars it cost Captain Crunch. Wozniak and Jobs then went to college campuses and sold them to dorms for 150 dollars and up.
Wozniak became obsessed with ÒphreakingÓ and almost forgot about school. This is! the first example of WozniakÕs In 1975 personal computers became a reality. The Altair 8800 was released. (Rose, 31) It was a computer kit. It came with all the pieces that were needed to build it, and it was then assembled by the consumer who bought it. It was really designed for computer hobbyists, who loved the fact that they were able to build it. It had its down side though. Once it was assembled, there wasnÕt much that it could do. The Altair 8800 inspired two men to start the ÒHomebrew Computer Club.Ó (Rose, 32) Wozniak was among the thirty-two people who attended the first meeting. The club was for computer hobbyists who wanted to talk about computers. They would share any new information that they ÒdiscoveredÓ and talk about computer designs, components, etc. Wozniak found t Wozniak was working for Hewlett Packard and Jobs was working for Atari. (Rose, 32) Sometimes Jobs would let Wozniak come in to Atari at night and play games. Once Jobs had an idea f! or a game, Breakout, and he convinced Wozniak to make it. It took Wozniak only four days to make it. This further evidence of Wozniak's early ability to manipulate computers, not just as a builder, but as a programmer. Something that came in very handy when he was designing the Apple I. From a very early age Wozniak wanted his own computer. (Rose, 26) This became possible when the Altair 8800 came out. Wozniak heard about it from members of the club, but he could not afford the 395 dollars it cost. (Rose, 32)
In fact, he did not even have
the money to buy the 179 dollar Intel 8080 microprocessor that ran it. This howe Instead of using the Intel chip, Wozniak bought a cheap microprocessor, the 6502, that a company called MOS Technology was selling for twenty-five dollars. (Rose, 32) Then Wozniak used his ingenuity and knowledge of computers to build his first working computer. Jobs fell in love with WozniakÕs design and persuaded him to go into business. Together the! y started Apple computers in early 1976. Jobs was the people person who would sell the computers and Wozniak was the engineer who would design and build the computers. (Rose, 32-33) The process for building the computer was very hard and very tedious. First Wozniak had to write a program, in hex, to monitor the keyboard. (Turly, 1-2) Then Wozniak revised his computer and Jobs was able to get him six sample RAM chips from Intel because they were the best RAM chips on the market. Then Wozniak wired the whole thing together. The building of the physical computer was not the only obstacle that Wozniak One man building a computer and writing all the code was uncommon, but it happened. What made Wozniak special was the fact that his computer worked. Many other companies came out with personal computers, but most of them went out of business. (Laureate, 1) WozniakÕs understanding of electronics helped him when he built his computer because it had ports so that it was expand! able. Big corporations thought the little computers that companies like Apple made were useless and that they would not succeed. (Rose, 34-36) It was no wonder that Hewlett Packard refused Wozniak's offer to sell them his computer. It was the young entrepreneurs like Wozniak that changed computer history for ev To get their company going, Wozniak sold his programmable calculator and Jobs his van and they raised a total of 1,300 dollars. (Rose,34)
Then Jobs went searching for people to fund them. It took him a couple of months, but he finally found Mike Markkula who, like so many others, fell in love with Wozniak's computer and bought a third of the companyÕs shares for 341,000 dollars. Now Apple was a company. They started to sell the Apple I for 666.66 dollars with the slogan ÒNewton...ÔA Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought...Alone.ÕÓ (Rose, 33) This slogan, as strange as it was, helped Apple sales. They had started the company in JobsÕs garage, b! ut now they were ready to move out and really get their business going. Wozniak slaved on to make the Apple computer better. Once Appl In 1981 Apple computer was doing pretty well and life was going great for Wozniak. His company was making the highest selling computer on the market. Then he took off in his single-engine Beechcraft airplane on February 7. (Rose, 52) The plane lifted off the ground, shuddered and crashed. When Wozniak woke up in the hospital he could not remember the crash or anything before it. He had amnesia for five weeks. After he recovered from the cras Apple became so great that it earned Wozniak and Jobs an award that had not been presented for over one hundred years. (Rose, 249-250) In May of 1984 President Reagan gave them the National Technology Award. WozniakÕs dream to own his own computer had turned into a multi-billion dollar company. Two weeks earlier Wozniak had left Apple to work on an universal remote control. WozniakÕs developments! in computers were revolutionary.
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