Steve Wozniak Q & A
Seattle Times technology reporter
Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs in 1976, was in Seattle Thursday to speak to a University of Washington class. His goddaughter, Julie Roebuck, is a UW student and invited him to the campus. Wozniak, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, sat down afterward for an interview with The Seattle Times.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation.
Q. Do you visit Seattle very often?
A. Not too often. Mostly I go places I can drive. I almost drove here. It's a long drive, it's 14 hours, but if it's to Portland I'll drive.
Q. Why drive instead of fly?
A. I just don't like the airport hassles. When I drive I can bring my own world. I can bring my Segways. I don't have to think. I go right from home to the hotel.
Q. I thought of you recently in the Bay Area when I drove by a street called Woz.
A. Woz Way. I never wanted money. So as soon as I had all this wealth from Apple I pretty much tried to get rid of it, and I invested in a lot of museums. I got recognized with schools giving me special halls, and the street in San Jose is one of the best ones ever. Woz Way. The mayor called me up one day and said, "We're going to name a street after you."
Q. I read that you find your level of celebrity somewhat annoying. Is this true?
A. That's true. I would much rather just have such a quiet life that I could sit down and have days and days free to just think out new ideas. But I don't. I'm not the sort of person that ever wanted to be this busy.
Q. There really is a kind of mythology around how you and Steve Jobs started out, selling your belongings to raise money and building computers in his garage.
A. And not even thinking that we would make any money or that there would necessarily be a business. But we knew that we had such a good design. When we looked at the charts that compared us to all the other companies with two kids in jeans who were starting something, our product stood out. It was the only one that was a full computer that you could run a programming language on for an affordable price. All the others were an affordable price for a little part of a computer that couldn't do the job.
Q. You said during your talk that you and Steve are very different people. Do you think that helped or hurt in those early days?
A. Helped us extremely. I had the incredible technology, which was important when you're starting up and have very few employees. Steve had this big drive to have a company and he had a foresight. I just wanted to build the best computer possible and he sort of wanted to build a company that would be selling computers forever.
Q. What do you think about Boot Camp, which lets you run Windows on a Mac?
A. I don't think anything of it at all. You know, people say a bunch of PC people will now buy Macs. No. What I really want is just a window that I can go back and forth instantly. I don't have to reboot. I go to Macintosh, I go to the PC, I go to Macintosh, so right now I use "Virtual PC." It's a program on the Mac that emulates a PC but it's slow.
Q. What can we expect from the book [you have coming out soon]?
A. You can expect stories about what really happened, how things were really done, key elements of it. I was a little disappointed — Steve Jobs had indicated he'd write a foreword. But he'd never written a foreword before and I said, "Just write what we were like back then."
We sent him the book and he said, "Oh, I saw some excerpts, and I'm going to decline writing the foreword." I don't know why because I'm nice to him, so there must have been something he didn't like.
Q. Are you still close friends?
A. Not close friends. Even when Apple really got started we weren't close friends because he had a different motivation in the company, which was to run a company, and mine was just to be a top engineer that did clever, clever projects. So we almost never saw each other in the company.
Q. What do you credit for Apple's success in the last few years?
A. Steve Jobs deserves a great deal of that and the original values and the corporate culture of Apple that we're only going to make products that are exceptional. Good control of the company's resources — and we have such a loyal following. We don't have that much of a market share but the ones left are so passionate and loyal that basically you could figure out your computer and a price that includes a good profit, and you'll get that profit as long as you don't build so many computers that you have to scrap them. He's careful on inventory control so that we don't overbuild anything.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company