Essay, Research Paper: Steve Wozniak 


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At first I had began brainstorming trying to think of a subject for this paper.
I had heard Mr. Perry speak of Apple computer and of Steve jobs. His rise to
power and his fall from grace then his rebirth, like the phoenix from in myths
and legends rising from his own ashes. However I didnít know much about the
subject. So I decided on the subject of Apple computers. Then the more I
researched I found a more interesting subject. In the next few pages I am going
to attempt to do justice of the accomplishments of Steve Wozniak. No not the
other Steve, I found Steve Wozniak a more interesting person simply because I
had never heard of the man. I never new he existed. Being of lesser knowledge
than most on the subject of computers I found it fascinating. The way Steve
Wozniak did things. Steve Wozniak was born in 1950. A baby boomer he grew up in
suburban Santa Clara Valley, California with his parents and siblings. His
father was an engineer for Lockheed and his mother was the president of a
Republican Womenís Club. He was into electronics heavily even as a child and
young teenager. While looking at a magazine article he spotted a diagram for a
simple calculator called the One-Bit-Adder-Subtractor. Woz, as his friends
called him, dissected the plans and made improvements. In Cupertino Science Fair
he took home first prize with the Ten Bit Parallel Adder Subtractor. It was his
first attempt at building a computer. This would be the beginning of a great
learning era it would seem. In junior high he had already taught himself how to
design programs in computer languages. At homestead high school he absorbed
everything he could about electronics and physics. He fare outreached his
counter parts in class. After he graduated he went on to the University of
Colorado but flunked out. You see he was bored with school because he was so
intelligent. At least that is what he tells everyone. Returning to California
the Woz still was interested in computers even after his fall from college life.
One of his early interests was the Altair 8800. It was costly when it came out
so he and a friend began research on it. In the garage of a neighbor Steve
Wozniak created what would be called the cream soda computer. Named that after
all the cream soda he drank while building it. While building it he met a man
named Steve Jobs. Although the computer went up in smoke during a test the basic
groundwork was laid for a machine that would change the world was set and a
friendship that would turn into a new industry. After the introduction of the
Altair an organization sprang up of hobbyist and amateurs. It was the Homebrew
Computer Club and of course Steve Wozniak went to the meetings and rarely if
ever missed one of them. It seemed the Altair used a costly microprocessor, the
Intel 8080, to do its thinking. Since Woz couldnít afford the 179 dollars per
chip he jumped at the offer Hewlett Packard offered its employees. At a
substantial discount he could buy the Motorola 6800 microprocessor. He did
experiments with it and like all computer parts the prices dropped. Then he
moved on to the 6502 Microprocessor by MOS Technologies. The MOS chip sold for
only 25 dollars this appealed to Woz because of the price per function. Plus he
thought all this computer stuff could be done on very few chips and parts making
it appealing to the everyday person. On April fools day in 1976 three men signed
an agreement to form a computer company. After a little haggling a name was
chosen for both the company and the computer. On 1300 dollars, which came from
the selling of a VW van and a programmable calculator the three men would start
an industry. They would call it Apple Computer and the first product would be
called the Apple I. The three would soon become two you see Ron Wayne would sell
out for only 800 dollars never getting the ten- percent of the millions to come.
Surely he spent several nights tossing and turning at the thought of it. The
pecking order was Jobs was the go-getter. The person who made the deals, begged
for orders, and got the parts. Woz didnít care about anything as long as he
got to be the engineer. The lack of interest in the business side of Apple
computer along with the cutthroat attitude of Jobs would be his demise at Apple
computer. That is ten years and millions of dollars into the future. First
however is the rise to greatness. The Apple I had lots of problems most being in
the area of use. It was not very user friendly. It didnít even have a case at
the point of creation. You had to be a wizard to even unlock its potential.
However that was what it had and a retailer by the name of Paul Terrell ordered
50 apple I computers for his stores at the wholesale price of 589 dollars. To
get attention it was decided that he would sell them for 666.66 dollars. That
was another example of the Steve Jobs affect. The next invention of the great
Woz was the Apple II. It had several improvements like the 4k of memory. It used
a not included TV set as the monitor. It would become the first truly mass
produced personal computer in history. Steve loved working on the Apple II it
was his baby and by 1977 he had built something very special. Big business began
to get in the way on the great things he was doing. In 1980 Apple Computer went
public for 22 dollars a share. It was worth at that time 117 million dollars.
Three years later it was valued at 985 million. Steve Wozniak after being a
college dropout and a complete electronic nerd was now worth 135.6 million
dollars. That was only about 7 percent of the company. Jobs was worth at the
time 235 million dollars, and several others had there forks in Appleís pie.
Even Wozís first wife got some stock in a divorce settlement years earlier was
now worth 42 million dollars. After all the money was made other problems began
to arise. The money gave Woz a new avenue to do things he had always wanted like
own planes and fly them. Being the easy go lucky guy he was his money was spread
to the family and his friends. He even sponsored a concert tour and lost
millions. In 1981 he had a plane crash and had to take some time to recover.
Upon his return two years later he would find a new toy at Apple the Macintosh,
which was Jobs new baby. It competed with the Apple II line which was the best
selling computer in the entire history of the world. Also the Apple II got no
respect and it was what started the company and was the breadwinner. In between
was a failure called the Apple III. Even though Woz had laid the groundwork for
the company he was being tossed away like an old toy. Finally after becoming
disgusted with the company he just stopped coming to work, sold his 7 percent
and moved onto other things. Now he spend his days trying to stimulate 8th
graders minds as a schoolteacher in California and enjoying his 6 children. In
conclusion Steve Wozniak was a special individual who had a vision and went for
it and made it happen. It wasnít money or power it was the search for an
easier way to do things that no one else would do. In this paper the emphasis
has been put on Steve Wozniak. This was done because I feel he has never had his
fare share of the glory. Like I said earlier I had never heard of the man who
should be known as the father of the personal computer. Apple computer needed
Steve Wozniak but it also needed Steve Jobs. Without either of them Apple
Computer would have failed or not even been created. Without Jobs the wonderful
machine Woz created would never had made it out of the garage. Without Woz, Jobs
would just be a jealous dreamer. When the company was first starting the CEO at
the time began giving out employee numbers and since engineers are more
important than businessmen Steve Wozniak became Apple Computer employee number
one. Which also drove Jobs crazy. Jobs even requested being employee number
zero. Really all this was pretty good for a college drop out and a man that
barely graduated high school.
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