iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

The mastermind behind Apple sheds his low profile and steps forward to tell his story for the first time.

Before cell phones that fit in the palm of your hand and slim laptops that fit snugly into briefcases, computers were like strange, alien vending machines. They had cryptic switches, punch cards and pages of encoded output. But in 1975, a young engineering wizard named Steve Wozniak had an idea: What if you combined computer circuitry with a regular typewriter keyboard and a video screen? The result was the first true personal computer, the Apple I, a widely affordable machine that anyone could understand and figure out how to use.

Wozniak’s life—before and after Apple—is a “home-brew” mix of brilliant discovery and adventure, as an engineer, a concert promoter, a fifth-grade teacher, a philanthropist, and an irrepressible prankster. From the invention of the first personal computer to the rise of Apple as an industry giant, iWoz presents a no-holds-barred, rollicking, firsthand account of the humanist inventor who ignited the computer revolution. 16 pages of illustrations.

The Guardian Of the Notes

For a while now I’ve been trying to organize all of my notes. For years I had great hopes of finding a perfect electronic organizer. My first love and biggest disappointment were devices created by Jeff Hawkins and Celeste Baranski.

I owned my share of Palms and Handsprings, even the first Handspring phone module, but the damn things just kept crashing, running out of charge, loosing data and breaking exactly when I needed them the most. Also, the phone module was probably the worst cell phone I ever owned. Arrrr, just the memory itself of the scurvy thing be driving me nuts.

Funnily enough, three or four of my co-workers who did not even want to listen to my raves about Handspring in those days now own latest Treo cell phones which are a little less terrible, but still not as good as what I use these days. What high technology do I use? I use an ugly brick of a cell phone with Verizon service which is easy to use, keeps charge well, never crashes, is comfortable to hold and manages to get reception even in some shallow subway stations. For a phone book and notes I use little black books made by Moleskine.

Because of its slowness and bad text recognition my Tablet PC is sitting on a shelf waiting for a Linux installation, but I am trying to organize all of my notes and transfer them from random pieces of paper into neat new Moleskine notebooks. Tilde the cat keeps a watchful eye over them.

More of Deadprogrammer’s Aspirations

I want to become rich in one of the most honorable ways possible – by inventing something. The first step that I took in that direction some time ago is writing down ideas into a notebook.

The notebooks is kind of special. It’s an NYPD style memo binder that I bought from DeSantis. Interesting to note that the NYPD binder is 4×8, but regular one is just 4×6. It took me a while to find correct paper that would fit the notebook, but I found out that the reporter’s notebook available in all stationary stores fits. I just had to remove the wire spiral. You know, the most amazing thing about this notebook is that cops manage to stuff it into the back pocket of their pants. I thought about buying some uniform pants (they look like dark dress casual pants, but are probably very comfortable and durable) but it turns out that you can’t buy them without a cop’s id.

But I digress. Inventing. Right. Well, sometimes I stumble upon companies that are already doing what I was thinking about. Maybe some of my ideas are actually not without merit.

I had an idea bout billboards beaming advertising to PDAs. I made a note in my log about making a cheap beaming module that could be used in subway ads. A blinking light would attract one’s attention, and if the passenger would point a palm pilot towards the ad, a coupon would be beamed down. I did a bit of searching, and it didn’t seem that any company was doing that at the time. That was a few years back, when I got my Palm III. The first company to actually do this (I think, I am not sure though) was Streetbeam. Today there are many more companies that make beaming booths, beaming nodes, etc. Wide Ray is just one of them.

Later I was thinking a lot about wireless power transmission after reading a book about Tesla. Tesla had his lab illuminated by wirelessly powered fluorescent lights. Why not power devices that don’t need that much juice, like cell phones and PDAs wirelessly, I thought? I was also thinking about magnetic fields in trains. Could it be possible to recharge a Palm Pilot or a cell phone from an induced current somehow? My hate of wall warts (12 volt transformers) is also well known. I was thinking for a while about a system of modules that would allow using one power cable to charge multiple devices. The system would involve a modular “multicradle” that would allow to store all devices needing powering neatly on the desk. This Friday I’ve read about a British startup that is going to produce a very cool wireless charging solution. That is going to be so cool.

Juice!

My electric bill last month was $148.95 . It says there that I’ve used up 797 KWH. That’s 26.6 KWH per day. That means that on the average I consume 1.1 KW. That’s 1100 W every hour, 24 hours a day. It’s like having 36 light bulbs on at the same time. All the time.

The only things that work full time are refrigerator (84 W on the average, lets say 200W while it’s hot), TIVO (40W), aquarium pump (30 W) . One AC was on during the night most of the time, another for a couple of hours in the evening.

I have a suspicion that:
a) my KWH meter is connected to something of my neighbor’s.
b) the old 220V AC is eating an enormous amount of electricity
c) all of the power supplies for cell phones, hubs, router, a/v components are leaching a shitload of juice

I really wish there was a portable KWH meter that I could hook up to any device and calculate the _actual_ energy consumption. But looks like there is no such thing.
Ok, this is pretty idiotic.

I really got to do something about this. Maybe I can get a better rate then 15 -16 c per KWH. Maybe I can find the mooching device that eats all my juice. I need to try and check the readings on my meter myself. Here is how. Neat.

Now, this is pretty idiotic. If not, more idiocy can be found on the other end of the spectrum.

Also, I don’t think I have good surge protection for my stuff, and the wiring quality is pretty dodgy. Which reminds me, my renter’s insurance ran out and I really need to renew it. Crap.

Well, at least this post helped me to get my thoughts in order.