The Wonderful WIZARD of Woz…at DA

Apple co-founder speaks at Celebrity Forum

Jay Serrano, Opinions editor

There was the time Steve Wozniak and a friend copied the key to a computer lab at De Anza College and then snuck in at night to use the school’s computer.

“I don’t want to be one of these rich people who runs a business all day; I would rather be a guy out on the street laughing,” Wozniak told an audience at Flint Center Jan. 23.

Wozniak attended De Anza in 1969-70. The lecture was part of the Celebrity Forum series.

He spoke about co-founding Apple, and growing up in Silicon Valley before the personal computer era.

Wozniak began by sharing his tips for personal success.

“Innovation comes from extreme practice and skill,” he said. “You have to challenge yourself to be the best in the world.”

As a young pioneering computer engineer, Wozniak sketched out computer designs or constructed systems whenever he could. He tried to design computer systems that were more efficient then current models.

“I would ask myself, how can I make a computer with fewer parts then the previous design?” he said.

One reason Wozniak wanted to streamline computer systems was there was an unofficial competition to see which person or company could make the smallest, most efficient, computer.

Another reason was he could not afford large quantities of computer parts so he was forced to build with the limited materials he had.

He shared his tips for enjoying life using a simple formula (h= f x f x f) or happiness equals food times fun times friends.

“Humor made electronics all the more fun for me,” Wozniak said.

He often used his experience with electronics to play pranks on his classmates in college.

He told one story where he built a device that would scramble the image on a nearby TV screens.

Whenever he and his friends would gather to watch TV, he would turn the scrambler on.

He would then tell his friends they had to hold the TV upside down or sideways. Once they followed his instructions, he would turn the scrambler off.

Wozniak took a short pause while the audience finished laughing.

Wozniak first met Steve Jobs through a mutual friend he had pulled pranks with.

Eventually this partnership led to the creation of Apple computers.

“I just wanted to be an engineer,” Wozniak said. “Steve Jobs would always put things into product form.”

Wozniak’s design skills and Jobs’s marketing skills led to the first successful home computer with a graphic interface, the Macintosh.

This new design set the standard for home computers.

“I hit the formula to build an affordable computer that could do regular tasks,” Wozniak said. “We knew we had made an impact within two to three years.”

Wozniak finished his speech by looking at the future of technology.

“We’re going to have a world where these machines in our pockets are like little friends,” he said. “I hope it’s going to be a fun world ahead.”