Monday, February 29, 2016

iWoz: An Inspiring Look into Steve Wozniak

Wozniak is a conventional guy living an unconventional life. His autobiography, "iWoz," is an inspirational look into his life. He was a precocious kid with a father who instilled conventional values in him. These values ranged from honesty in the face of adversity to patriotism, the latter of which was heavily questioned during Vietnam.

As conventional as Woz may have been, he was a prankster, of the type I probably would have loved to hang out with had we grown up together. He was the one who had the talent to pull the type of pranks us less technically literate needed. The best prank wing-man one could ever ask for.

"iWoz" gives the reader a look into his life but doesn't get into the nitty gritty of what was Jobs doing when Woz was doing this and that. Maybe that's on purpose. Wozniak is often overshadowed by the 'accomplishments' of Steve Jobs. Jobs had technological prowess but is more known for his aesthetics and aesthetic functionality.

Wozniak may have been a footnote in history if not for Jobs. Yeah, he would have developed some amazing things and contributed heavily to the development of the PC but it would have been in a way that wouldn't allow him to live and breathe computers. He developed the Apple I while working for Hewlett-Packard. He offered them the rights to the device and requested to work on computers rather than calculators. They were not interested and did not want him to change positions. Jobs had the social tenacity to make things happen where Wozniak didn't.

This is no fault of Wozniak, but the fault of HP and those who didn't see the greatness of what they were presented with. When Woz was told by Mike Markkula (an initial investor) that he needed to quit HP in order to be part of Apple, Woz simply said "no" and was only convinced later on when they promised to give him no managerial duties. This is truly odd of Wozniak. He abdicated power in favor of Jobs who he could no longer influence when it came to design and functionality. The resulting failure of the Apple 3, the LISA, and the Mac led to Jobs leaving the company.

A lot of misunderstandings about Jobs and Wozniak were cleared up in the book. First, Jobs left the company voluntarily. This was not widely known before iWoz spelled it out. Second, Wozniak left the company on good terms and not out of anger. There were reporters at the time who tried to dramatize Wozniak's departure. Lastly, Woz was the sole creator of the Apple 1. Jobs had nothing to do with it.

What I love most about this book is how Wozniak translates his love for learning and engineering. I learned quite a bit from Woz, and it made me want to teach my daughter.

Woz's recommendation to young people who want to create something? Work alone. Woz claimed that the Apple 3 failed because it was designed by committee rather than by a couple engineers or even just a single engineer. 

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