"I was meant to design computers, not hire and fire people."--Steve Wozniak

The president and co-founders of Apple, pictured at the forefront of the personal computer revolution.

Of 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.

Known 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.

Employed 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.

Wozniak 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.

Wozniak 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 computer.

The 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.

Ever since then, Americans have been crazy for computers.

Nearly 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."