all the founders of the home computer revolution that took the United
States by storm in the 1980s, there is one who is more unlikely
than the rest: Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer.
as the "Wizard of Woz," Wozniak alone designed two computers that
would establish Apple as a force in the microcomputer industry:
Apple I and Apple II. But he wasn't interested in self-promotion.
He designed computers to see how well he could do it.
as a design engineer with Hewlett Packard in the late 1970s, Wozniak
developed an early philosophy toward his work: stick to the essentials,
and make it inexpensive. He freely passed out the Apple I schematics,
which fit on a single sheet of paper.
may never have become a household name to computer geeks if it weren't
for Steve Jobs. A high school friend of Wozniak's, Jobs became a
legendary marketing wizard. It was Jobs who promoted Wozniak's talent
and wooed $250,000 of funding from former Intel executive Mike Markkula.
With Markkula at the helm as chairman of the company, Apple was
poised for success.
delivered the goods. He designed the Apple II, which was released
in 1977. It commanded the market for personal computers until 1982.
The phenomenal sales from Apple II launched the era of the personal
rest of the world soon caught on. IBM, spurred by the success of
Apple II, launched its own Personal Computer in 1981. With more
features than the Apple II, the IBM PC soon outsold the Apple II.
since then, Americans have been crazy for computers.
two decades after starting the computer revolution, Wozniak is still
revered for his technical talent, his success in getting rich quick,
and his aversion for corporate America. "I was meant to design computers,
not hire and fire people," said Wozniak in a February 1994 interview
with People magazine, explaining his decision to retire from Apple.
Today, he lives in Los Gatos, California, teaching elementary and
middle school students how to build their own computers and hopefully,
inspiring them to do this kind of work strictly for the love of
it. "I think if kids are going to have a hero in the computer world,"
he said in People, "they might as well have a good one."