I’m posting my notes from Steve Wozniak’s talk at North Carolina State University on Saturday. Depending on your knowledge of Apple and Woz, you may find some interesting attitudes and ideas. I heard some news, some insight, and a great deal about him personally. All in all, very worthwhile and interesting – be sure to check out the Q&A at the end, as that’s where most of the meat is to be found.   Notes on these notes: 

These were taken as speaking occurred using 12” AlBook. I’ve made very little effort to edit these, 

only correcting glaring misspellings. A few times when I felt it was necessary and had not been 

able to type fast enough, I’ve added comments for context in parentheses. 

 Woz spoke mainly about his personal experience and views on where tech has been, then 


cut off rather abruptly to take questions. The Q&A was the more spirited aspect of the talk. 

NCSU PackMUG event 4.26.03, McKimmon center, Raleigh, NC 

Steve Wozniak speaking 

1pm registration 

2pm opening remarks, Arman Assa, Pres PackMUG 

2:15 intro – Dr. Marye Anne Fox, Chancellor of NC State 

2:40 Keynote, Woz, CEO of Wheels of Zeus 

3:45 questions & answers Ben McNeely, sec of PackMUG 

4:00 closing, Arman 

WOZ, Wheels of Zeus – see http://www.woz.com/press/012302.html for press release / 


description of company 

Attendance appears to be around the 600 expected. 

Only one iChat person available via Rendezvous, no Hydra participants available to 

share in my notetaking, two wireless basestations visible in Airport., one secured one 



Arman Assa: 

Assa is graduating senior  in comp science 

Excited to be welcoming chancellor, Woz 

intro to… 

Marye Anne Fox: 

Chancellor – NCSU, a leader in science and tech 

Woz contributions to world, technology; 

transition to tech related to personal computer, empowerment in career and 

collaborations, gov’t and univ – changed way university education conducted 

all the way down to elementary level 

Thanks to PackMUG for organizing presentation 

Required persistence to get Woz – he has chosen to come to ncsu b/c dedicated to 

tranformation of education, dedication to spirit of students


Homebrew computer club to now, shown innovation and revolutionary spirit 

Because colleges come together and are early adopters, place for innovation and new 


technology – using tech to improve quality of learning 

Technology based education = NCSU 

Entrepeneurial spirit transforms what we do in education 

Thanks, Steve for being here… 


thanks to chancellor, intro to Steve 

bit of history, this is first visit to NCSU hosted by student technology groups is 


He is engineer, entrepreneur – designed and built Apple’s early models 

Transition from private development to philanthropist,  dedication to education 

Founded EFF 

2002 founded WOZ — consumer wireless products with goal of appealing to everyone 

Thanks for coming 

Steve Wozniak: 

“There are 3 things certain in life: death taxes and spam.” 

time when no computers 

old tech – TV’s and radios on tubes, chips unheard of 

Silicon Valley was just an orchard 

trees came down, buildings went up 

spent childhood playing with circuits and popular electronics – TV’s came with 

schematics – you could go to grocery store to buy repair tubes 

Tech has become less familiar. 

Tom Swift Jr – developed what was needed to solve problems of world 

books give direction forever – “SOS at Midnight”, “Toms Swift”, inspired 

In 6th grade took up ham radio – Morse code – like early internet – communication 

using technology over distance 

build it yourself kits 

early science fairs building electronics for science fair 

learning logic through electronics to do science fair 

Woz can beat most people at tic tac toe using psychological tactics. Played all 

permutations of tic tac toe when learning it. 

no idea at that time what computer was, that this would lead to what has passed

brought up to believe that world could be better and that teachers are important to that 

goals – first to be engineer like father, second to be teacher 

always disliked that best tech was mainly for military and others, exclusive, not for 


discovered article by father  about early computers – boolean logic and monitors 

easy math and logic key 

next learned binary logic 

decided to build adder/subtractor in 8th grade 

very personal stories so far, leading toward divergence of tech from privately held to 

reach people more broadly 

detailing early learning experiences available to everyone – school, real world 


very attentive crowd – a few digital cameras, a few laptops – some digital video – is 

being streamed real-time onto web 

in high school learning electronics 

teacher helping him find his first computer, learning fortran etc – knights tour of chess, 


first program: did what it was supposed to , but would take longer than universe would 


be around to complete task he wanted 

involving approaches, thinking, problem solving 

started designing computer before regular people could afford the parts – started 

collecting tech parts from everywhere 

wherever bright people are there are doors open – would sneak into stanford on 

Sundays to use machines 

pulled out cards from library copies of manuals and ordered manuals not available to 


normal people 

received no reward, no grades – rewards inside – never thought he could be designing 


computers then, too good to be true 

racing against self to build better each week 

then goal changed to how small could he get it 

next discovered instructions and began to work on smaller instruction sets 

if designing own product, can develop for fewer parts (theme of not knowing what can’t 


be done is prevalent) 

picked college for snow – go where you fell, you will achieve as much not matter what

school you end up at 

in college writing programs on comp, ended up running his class 5 times over budget 


for all the paper and punch cards he printed – so left school rather than have to pay. 

Comm college in Ca. 

designed first comp on first job – called it the cream soda computer 

soon after intro to Steve jobs – same interests – electronics and pranks 

bomb scare – put metronome in locker = principal ran out to football field and tried to 

dismantle it – when door to box opens, ticking sped up, just for extra punch 

pong designed around home TV use – have to have pc at home he thought 

had to be company to buy a chip then, too expensive, hard to get 

bought first chips 

thought “had start of apple in my hands” 

homebrew club grew to about this size (pointing to audience gathered, about 600) 

originally hoped people could use computer for organizing protests – other socially 

conscious causes 

first chats with terminals at homebrew 

closest thing to hacking he ever did – dumping polish jokes into bb chat for terminal / 


homebrew club 

nasty letter from Bill Gates re coping books etc from club library 

all of his stories seem geared toward the idea of user friendliness and moving forward 


– always better than whatever was available – using what is available – ie, better 


“talk about open source” – we used to pass out schematics of what we built 

more stories about Apple genesis, from homebrew to first comp 

Steve jobs “more ethereal”, Woz “more normal”. 

had fun doing free phone stuff – ran into Capt. Crunch – FBI hadn’t caught him yet 

Story: car broke down, used blue box to dial out at pay phone, cops arrive – both very 


nervous – what is it they ask, Woz says music synthesizer 

They look at it, say “sorry, guy named moog beat you to it” 

dial a joke seemed like first chat room – only way for him to meet people – met first wife 


that way, she dialed in and he insulted her 

capt curnch stories – friends at that time

 – crunch introed him to playing computers over phone at chess 

more stories, then abrupt end; very little of Apple era, mostly his genesis as an 

engineer, what brought him up to invent Apple II. 

Open up for questions 

q – tell us about origin of apple logo 

it was multi-colored apple – we have color and they don’t … 

q – views on open source 

motivation same as mine  , getting more done , academics contribute more – get 


bogged down in corporations delays innovation 

q – are you happy with where pc is today 

could have gone further – feature-itis, business considerations caused 

problems, ui guidelines gone or less important than ever 

q – could there be a third platform company outside of Apple and Microsoft 

yes, there could be more, Apple & MS different enough to scare people from 

switching too much – but third one could always arise 

q – Wheels of Zeus, what is? 

can’t talk about it yet, well known names will be selling them, consumer devices 


(implied Nokia or other European wireless company involvement) 

q – Is Woz an engineer at WOZ 

not spending time engineering, but evaluating – does scripts, test programs a bit 


– guiding technologies mainly 

q – convergence – where is it going, share with crowd neat things he’s seen 

i’m a gadgeteer, love all the devices, pdas, – none have equaled the newton; 

desciption of newton – seems sad that it went away, still waiting for non 

complication – uses the Sony-Ericsson clicker and loves it to control his Mac 

q – where do you see computers aiding aerospace industry 

not current on subject, but has always involved computers, but don’t know 

where it is going 

q – Leo Schwartz? 

tech tv – met him, nice guy … (pointless question?) 

q – when should kids star learn to program – (kid asking question) 

7th grade is best, 5th  and 6th  don’t get it , but 7th  do – programming  – cognitive 


development symbolic reasoning helps by 7th that isn’t there in 5th, 6th 

q – Apple and Universal, how to deal with mp3 phenom 

Apple is going to part of the commercial world there – sad, can’t tape tv shows 

etc (seems sympathetic to mp3s) – apple is going to fit into doing online music 

the right way – Woz says not good sources – says “we’ll do it for a buck a 

song” (don’t think he was supposed to reveal that before the official 

announcement… ) 

q – comment on brushed metal theme running amok 

doesn’t bother me – changing look is a good thing, some decisions don’t make 


sense, but it’s progress – (why don’t you just change it to something you like is 


his attitude) 

q – where do you see future of computing in education 

class of kids with teacher with personality  – computer teacher – (AI thoughts?) 


don’t see it happening yet – schools much more efficient, with problem solving 

teacher instead of leading teacher (he seems to imply a teacher to facilitate, but 


computer to do actual instruction – teacher helps individuals as computer leads 


class as whole…) 

q – eff –founding 

civil rights was a reason, freedom, not appropriate to talk about here, but very 

personal, wanted to get off board when political motivations took over, but still 


believes in cause (he seemed a bit wary of wading into political discussion or 


q – programming ages – when should it be taught was thought, not one child – does it 


have more to do with predispositin, or cognitive devel (questioner says started 

programming at 8yrs old, is challenging Woz’s earlier statement – he missed the point 


of earlier statement IMHO) 

both, depends a great deal on person, but as a group its a problem for some 

younger kids, on an individual basis can happen young 

q – is hardware mattering less, software more 

Macintosh ushered software changes, now we’re moving to software being 

main difference between platforms and programming requirements – hardware 



q – impact of computer on society – how should we shape society with tech 

don’t think about it much, can’t stop computers, video games etc, – can’t stop 

tech from evolving (Woz alludes to video game violence, piracy online – 

suggests these things will always take place, but can be guided – can’t be 

stomped out) 

q – music apple will follow laws – diminish fair use rights, copying from devices – where 


does sympathy lie – experimenter or copywriter 

good values are important – some rights confuses issue with music,  teaching 

values is important piece – wrong to have machine that can do it, but disable it 


though – again, technology finds a way 

q – disabilities and ease of use – born with cerebral palsy, want to say appreciate 

everything Apply has done to make able to use technology  – thank you 

Woz you’re welcome, wish I’d been more involved in those efforts (looks slightly 


uncertain how to respond) 

q – apple 2gs – did you design, what was it 

designed in 82-83, outsold IBM etc, ads sold apple 3, but wasn’t apple 3 in 

picture (?)  2gs got designed, was around, took ideas from 2gx, was given 

credit, but wasn’t one of engineers (didn’t follow this exchange very well, as the 


questioner and Woz spoke at same time) 

q – what is best intro language (programming) 

 tough to comment, I’m more of a hardware guy – but Basic is good to start, 

makes more sense at first 

q – apple market share – issue of that – tech, ease of use – why is everyone afraid of 


changes don’t happen overnight , slow change, people learn one platform and 


then don’t want to switch fast – sometimes important to be different –  and  “our 

computers work better” 

didn’t thinks ads (Switch) would be effective but they have been more than 


q – Apple elitist? 

a little true, but part of it is appearances – have to be more passionate due to 

differences and struggle – Mac users know we have a specialness – “does 

every pc owner have a great pc?” 

q – laptops and classroom learning, how are they best to approach that 

research is spotty, support is poor -but computer is most important tool in 

educational life – but we don’t teach it, real deep knowledge of it.  

expectation is higher with computers, so work is better at times vs. work done by 


hand (i.e., a teacher will grade easier on work done in handwriting because of 


implied flaws) 

q – design , biggest challenge to making design important (follow up question re: 

changing the world of design)  

ah! (seems unsure how to answer, amiably exasperated) “I did what I do , why is 


everyone shaking my hand”   … changing world, just an idea – but hard to see 

early on – hard to predict where it will go, “but we did what we could” 

q — ham radio?

“no, my license is expired”, not the same anymore, you don’t buy and build 

anything anymore, not what i want 

q – have you voided warranty on your Tivo yet – 

“ I’ve voided warranty on several Tivo’s” – “I like it and watch it, i have one in my 


hummer”  with broadband and XM for road trip. 

q – favorite polish joke – 

pc is everywhere these days, stereotype comments get you in trouble – “what 

do you call call four Mexicans in quicksand – Quattro Cinco”… “I took a lot of 

heat for that one”  – 

 “when did the pollack die drinkng milk?  when the cow sat down.  – it’s a blond 


joke now” 

q – classic vs quantum computing – how long before reality, is Apple pursuing 

not up on it, one of those offshoot that will never happen.. haven’t seen anything 


to suggest that it will become reality, some things possible (mentions cold 

fusion), but not happen on usable scale 

q – manuals for apple 2e 


q – personal life 

email, basketball – season tickets again this year, concerts – “I own an 

amphitheatre” – listen to xm, road trips, summer in kansas – play Tetris really 


q – describe typical day 

wake at 6, only one kid in school now, email at home = work at nine, or go to 

work at 730, then mostly email: lots of mac email, company business, deal with 


requests for appearances – moving into new home, so packing boxes, movies 

late at night, sleep all day one day on weekend, go to movie and restaurant on 


other day 

q – true called pope? 

said was Henry Kissinger, used accent with bishop – while on hold, he checked 


it out, called him on it , said they’d just been speaking to Kissinger. 

q – went back to school? 

yes got degree in name of rocky raccoon clark… wanted to tell kids he went to 

college… “seems to be the only famous computer guy who went to college” 

q – iBox? comments – good or bad to have clones 

looks safer to have simple Mac, not confusion  – not a great thing – we (Apple) 


were ripped off by licensing – discovered that the way to make money was tight 


control – better world with a little more cost as result