GS WorldView - Dec99 Issue


The Aaron Slater

Woz Interview

Here it is, as promised. My Exclusive Interview with

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak.


Steve Wozniak Interview Transcript
©1999 Aaron Slater

<AARON> I am sure you know about Kansas Fest, arguably the nation's largest convention of Apple users. Do you have plans on attending KFest 2000? Do you plan on attending KFest in the next few years? When?

<WOZ> I'd love to attend but am so far behind on personal things (I'm saying 'yes' so often to others that I have to say 'no' to my family too often) that it's unlikely that I'll make one.

<AARON> Regarding the Apple logo, where did the idea come from to use six colors, and does the 'bite' represent anything?

<WOZ> The Apple ][ was the only low cost computer to be offered with color (and graphics and hi-res color graphics and game paddles and sound and BASIC in ROM and low cost DRAMs, and cassette tape interface built in, and many other things) and we wanted to stress that. No other computer would have a claim to color for years. The PR agency that we hired came up with the multicolored Apple shape, with the colors in rainbow order. Steve Jobs took it and rearranged the colors to put the darker feeling at the bottom.

<AARON> When Microsoft first introduced Windows, what were your personal
feelings? do you feel betrayed?

<WOZ> The first Windows that I was aware of was just a shell over DOS and still had it's drawbacks. The first Windows that started looking like a Mac was something like 3.1 and it felt like an infringement. Windows 95 was way over the line. But the courts ruled that Apple had licensed this technology to Microsoft because of some fine print that included the phrase "and derivative works."

<AARON> What do you think will happen to Microsoft, now that the United States Department of Justice has declared them a monopoly?

<WOZ> I hope that they will be severely broken up and have to put their OS in the public domain and give their browser to AOL, along with the value of lost browser business ($100B?) and penalties too...But I expect that the final deals get worked out with a settlement that is mostly words and costs Microsoft little, like agreements to avoid certain practices in the future and token apologies. That's probably the difference between the justice department and Microsoft right now.

<AARON> What do you think of the open source situation in general? Are Linux or BSD variants viable options for the future of the Mac?

<WOZ> I'm not close enough to answer. It sounds good and pure and can attract some of the best minds for a while, but will it continue in this mode? I don't have the answer.

<AARON> Where do you see the Mac going as Open Source software Breaks hardware barriers?

<WOZ> I haven't thought about it, sorry...It seems that the Mac has always been very closed source, held closed by at least one copyright ROM. Apple didn't have a good experience with clones. I think that the feeling is that Apple can make better hardware when it keeps control and there aren't 20 companies making their own versions of it.

The Apple II series was undoubtedly the most popular and widespread computer of it's time, unfortunately it's lineage was ended with the IIgs. What do you think the Apple II series would be like today if it had been allowed to evolve past the IIgs into today?

<WOZ> I don't think that the processor extensions, along with the need to support the past products, would have made sense. An OS should be designed for a graphics environment from the ground up, as the Mac's was. I don't think that app development for the ][gs would have kept up with that for the Mac. But there would still be a sizable group of followers, just not in relative, or percentage, terms. The Mac today suffers from having fewer new apps and compatible products, but it fare's OK.

<AARON> Looking back on all you know now, if it were 1977, what would you have changed about the design of the Apple II?

<WOZ> I've looked back sincerely many many times and always concluded that I would not change a thing.

<AARON> What single accomplishment are you most pleased with in the Apple II? Why?

<WOZ> Probably it would be the few-chip color solution. Overall, the product was designed to take very few chips in a day when there weren't many large chips to use. Even the 4 paddles only took one chip. The system timing got reduced from 10 chips to 5 and then again to about 2 chips. Combining the video RAM and processor RAM was another huge chip saving. In the end we were able to build a product that far outclassed the other computers of the day, yet took only a small fraction of the chips, and was therefore able to be manufactured as a very complete computer in a small size.


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