11. August 1950: Apple founder Steve Wozniak is born. Although Steve Jobs may be the most admired Apple figure, Woz is perhaps the most popular of the fans.
In addition to his most famous creation, Apple II, Wozniak is also responsible for providing Apple products along with lifelong personality.
Steve Wozniak: The nerd's nerd
Compared to the prickly jobs, Wozniak always appeared more related to technical nerds. Whether you looked at Jobs as a glorified salesman (a common misconception during Apple's early years) or a cool hippie who dreamed of traveling to find himself in India, Woz was clearly one of us.
He embraced the rebel hacking mentality of Silicon Valley's hobbyist Homebrew Computer Club, where he and Jobs displayed the first Apple computer. Later, despite playing a key role in inventing the personal computer – especially with the revolutionary Apple II – Woz spent his fortune on having fun instead of trying to take over the world.
Woz the prankster
From the beginning Woz was a prankster. During his brief stint at the University of California, Berkeley, he set up a computer at the school to cut out endless paper rolls with "GOOD SCRAP PAPER."
At Apple, he once snuck into a colleague's cubicle and put a live mouse inside his computer. Woz watched as his co-worker became increasingly confused by the strange beeping sounds coming out of the machine.
Even on important occasions, Woz remained easy. When Apple II debuted at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977, Wozniak played a prank on Jobs. He handed Jobs a brochure for a superior computer that was supposedly launched the same day. The clever fake marketing included parody Jony Ive-esque comments like, "Imagine a car with five wheels."
Woz did not let Jobs know that the so-called Zaltair computer was a hoax until years later. (Woz gave Jobs a framed copy of the brochure for his birthday.)
Steve Wozniak was Apple's peacemaker
Today, the type of nerdy jokes that Woz loved is instantly recognizable as nerd culture. But distilling Woz's humor and good-natured personality into Apple's computers and marketing made the company feel very different. Especially since this somehow happened in the pre-internet era.
Woz was the nerdy yin of Jobs & # 39; polished yang.
Inside Apple, Woz served as a peacemaker. He stood up for people in a way that has never been forgotten. When Jobs began to prevent certain early employees from stock options for reasons that few could understand, Wozniak objected.
Woz gave away some of his own Apple shares to employees who would not otherwise qualify. When Apple went public in 1980, Woz took home $ 100 million less than Jobs as a result.
Finally Wozniak was a damn bot engineer. Apple II is the computer he is most associated with. But perhaps his crown achievement was Disk II, Apple's first 5.5-inch floppy drive.
Created with 17-year-old Apple employee Randy Wigginton over Christmas 1977, Disk II massively increased the functionality of Apple's popular personal computer. It also became the first example of Apple's high-margin business model, which continues to this day. While Disk II only cost $ 140 in components, Apple sold it for $ 495.
Congratulations on the day, Woz!
Woz still makes his presence known in the technology environment, though he has been largely absent from Apple for years.
Much of his continued presence revolves around fun, nerdy pursuits like making comeos at The Big Bang Theory and becoming a Tetris world champion, whipping out some dance steps at Dancing With the Stars and still expresses enthusiasm for Segways.
But Woz also continues to talk about what he sees as the utopian technology mission. Sometimes it means asking Apple and Google to put aside their differences in favor. Other times it means urging the Federal Communications Commission to keep the internet free.
Happy birthday, Woz!