Slideshow: An insight into the Woz

Apple co-founder and icon Steve Wozniak visited Australia last week to deliver a speech on how technology will continue to enhance our lives. Woz, as he is affectionately known as, is not shy in coming forward. On any topics. Here we gathered a collection of bite sized snippets that we found to be insightful and down right amusing.

  • More on why technologists are important: Technologist when they are young are inspired. They fall in love with stuff…You discover that tech can be very interesting. You can actually build and understand a whole set of devices that other people can’t understand. It gives you a one-upmanship. It’s like knowing a bunch of trivia paths and being an little entertainer.

  • The Apple iPhone – likes: I like to be very versatile in trying everything out. I have tried every smart phone in existence. Not one of them made me feel good about accessing the Internet browser-style until the iPhone where it presented things with the real Web page the way it like it looks on my computer. That made me feel like I was being treated more like a human ...

  • On being a network administrator: I was a network administrator for 10 years and I hated it. It was just the most stressful thing in the world. If my son wanted to go out and be a pimp in New York I would be proudly behind him. But if he wanted to be a network administrator I would kick him out of the house!

  • Advice on preserving data on your computer: Keep it well backed up. I like to tell people -- if your mother is in the hospital and they say to you 'you better get down here right away', what do you do? You back up your computer and then go to the hospital. That's what I like to teach my students

  • Why technologists are important: To understand where technology might lead us it helps to understand what technology is and what helps technologists think because those who make the rules and those that make the systems affect our lives the most.

  • Building technology for humans: When we came out with the Mac in the early days we sat down and made so much effort tailoring the technology to adapt to ways humans already adapt. For example every human already had a desktop so we called the screen a desktop... What should icons look like? We spent so much effort to putting the human over the technology. We built extra code into the technology to make it work the way a human wants to as a human being.

  • Wireless and aeroplanes: You have a feeling of freedom when you are connected to fewer wires. It's just that mobility. And a lot of us like that feeling of freedom. I always think of myself as having a very left brain before my plane crashed and very right brained since.

  • Why you can’t cut corners as an engineer: Something you learn about engineering. First of all anything you do wrong doesn’t work. It has to be very precise. Engineers have to check and double check and super check to make sure things works. Nothing can be left not working or it’s unreliable.

  • Microsoft taking over Yahoo: I actually think it will probably be a good thing. Yahoo’s been struggling for a number of years to basically be as exciting, interesting and innovative as Google. And I think that will put it in a better framework… There’s a lot of things you can criticize Microsoft for but I don’t really see them as being evil. I think they really want to do in a business sense what makes them the most money… and that usually involves efficiencies in business and I think that is what the Yahoo deal will amount to.

  • Paying for music: Radiohead had their album [In Rainbows, which the band sold only online and with no minimum price] and I went online and bought it. And sure a lot of people just took it for free. And some people that I know have money will always do that too. And it bothers me because it lets us think whenever you can get away with something for free you should. And that hurts the artists.

  • Designing simple technology: Technology can be expensive. For example when I was young I could not afford a single chip. So all I could do was design on paper. I made up a game, because you get bored: How can I design it better than I did before? How can I use fewer parts. It was a little game that I made up and I played it for about two years. I would design every computer that was made for manufacture over and over and I would reduce the parts. It turned out that was really good practice because it taught me. I came to value the simplicity, the fused parts, the directness of solving a problem... The best things I did at Apple were because I didn’t have that much money and I had to think in terms of making things simple. And because I had never done it before. I just wanted to be an inventor and find the better way that other people had found before me.

  • The Apple iPhone –dislikes: I was really disappointed when the iPhones were introduced. Half the phones in the ATT store were 3G phones. And I had 3G phones and non 3G phones and I was shocked because Apple’s bringing the full Internet and it is not 3G and I knew it would be a speed detriment. I’ve sufficed with it in a lot of cases and whenever it gets to where things are loading too slowly …I go to [3G card] laptop...I was surprised because Apple normally is into future technology. It’s finding where the world’s going to go and trying to be one jump ahead. So I’m disappointed it [3G] wasn’t there from day one.

  • How you can have fun with technology: When we were in school we would make little ticking metronomes that would sound like a bomb and put it in the locker [of fellow students]. But we would always go that one step further and think and be creative and we’d put a resister in it so when you open the locker the ticking sped up. The laughter! It droves us a lot.

  • Are technologists strange people? Well, sometimes. When you grow up in tech and you are a real genius at it, you become sort of a social outsider and people think ‘oh, he is just an electronics genius or something’. But then, when you are a social outsider, technology becomes a kind of refuge to exemplify ‘here’s what I am good at, so I am going to do it even further’.

  • Why technology is best learned by pursuing a goal: Your goal pushes you. Sometimes the best mangers of a program project have never written a project in their life but they know how to manage and knowing how to manage they will get to the right answers and right end points. And sometimes you have to throw out your knowledge to get the best things done. The best things I did in Apple were generally because I never knew how to do them before. I sat down and knew what I wanted to end up with -- and taking little complements of parts, built it.

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