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Steve Wozniak

Tech Visionaries Wozniak & Jobs

He is an unlikely cult legend, his hulking frame and salt and pepper beard hardly reminiscent of the dangling, shiny carrots normally in the crosshairs of the paparazzi. Which in itself is ironic, as the parade of waifish, chemically destructive starlets is unending; there can only be one man who invented the PC, one man who developed the means upon which we rubberneck the self destruction of fleeting pseudo-celebs. He might be King Nerd and that is complimentary; the geek has inherited the Earth and this very planet would be quite insufferable without his innovations. If anyone deserves to have microphones shoved in his face as he exits a gas station restroom, it’s Steve Wozniak.

Again, calling him a nerd is suitable. This is a man who had a Ham Radio license in the sixth grade. This is a man who was placed on probation for “computer abuse” after developing a device that enabled him to place illegal toll free calls. He is a Freemason who plays on a Segway polo team. “The Woz” had a cameo on The Big Bang Theory as a man-God, and it was not done tongue-in-cheek.

Then again, more suitable than the nerd label is American Icon.

It was in high school that Woz was introduced to Steve Jobs, where the two spent a summer developing a mainframe at Hewlett-Packard. After dropping out of Cal-Berkeley after a year, Woz singlehandedly developed the Apple I (something he and Jobs did to impress members of the Homebrew Computer Club, a very local outlet for home electronics hobbyists). With a revelation deserving of more than inner-circle prestige, Woz and Jobs sold their belongings and used their combined wealth of $1,300 (as well as Jobs’ garage and Woz’s apartment for storage) and Apple Computers was born. Armed with 256 bytes of ROM, 8k bytes of RAM and a price tag of $666.66 (Woz has insisted upon his love of repeating digits, not the conspiratorial Satanism, regarding Apple I’s pricing), the road towards the matrix had been paved. If listening to tunes on an iPod while scrolling this article on a Mac or iPhone, pay homage to the HP scientific calculator that Woz had to pawn to allow this to happen.

Since Wozniak’s days at Apple, the pedigreed savant has been through a plane wreck (a crash in 1981 has left him with anterograde amnesia), a train wreck (Dancing with the Stars), and a whole lot of time to spread his massive wings. At last count, Woz holds nine or more degrees, some labored, some honorary. He has been known to receive prestigious awards-and accept with the same enthusiasm he brings when teaching grade school children in science classrooms. A chief member of the Inventor’s Hall of Fame, Woz has earned equal acclaim for his philanthropic contributions, which would take several issues of this magazine to list.

As for the future, perhaps we are fortunate that Wozniak suffers from amnesia. Because most men with such an esteemed resume would rest on their laurels and sip cocktails on a private beach. But with a brilliant mind and no dial-up speed in his makeup, Woz continues his wifi siege on technology through many ventures. He has already taken the computer from The Flintstones to The Jetsons. The next upload to this story should be an interesting ride.

And perhaps the existence of The Woz will have an effect on society, as well. Football players beware: the prom queen has been seen loitering around the AV Club.

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