iWoz: How I read the autobiography of Wozniak and had enjoy doing it!

iWoz, hardcover
iWoz, hardcover

One of the things that inspire me is read about magical hackers. I have read iWoz: How I invented the personal computer, co-founded Apple, and had fun doing it. These people are the kind of people like we (the wannabes) want to become. Wozniak started from a very young age, he says his father was his teacher:

He never started out by trying to explain from the top down what a resistor is. He started from the beginning, going all the way back to atoms and electrons, neutrons, and protons […] I remember we actually spent weeks and weeks talking about different types of atoms and then I learned how electrons can actually flow through things- like wires.

Steve built with his friends, The Electronic Kids, a house-to-house intercom connecting about six houses, wow! Can you imagine that? Steve explains about the things he learned like Boolean algebra, only reading and rereading journals:

That’s the type of mathematics computers use. And I learned about De Morgan’s Theorem, which is what Boolean algebra is based on. And that’s how logic became the hearth of my existence, there in the fifth grade.

In his book Wozniak teaches us the the importance of building projects. Since childhood he participated in science competitions. He almost always won, but he says:

And that’s not important as the most important thing: that you’ve done the learning on your own to figure out how to do it […] For me it’s the engineering, not the glory, that’s really important.

When I read that part I thought lately I have not had very positive results in my projects but I kept working on them and according to iWoz that’s what matters.

Woz was a prankster. He built a device called the TV Jammer, device that let you jam a TV if you just dialed into the right frequency. He could play with the people who was seeing the TV.

About the politics

In a section of the book he talks about Bush, (I remembered things about Peña Nieto):

I voted for George W. Bush in 2000, because I thought it would be nice to have an average Joe kind of person in the White House instead of smart, well-educated one. Someone who could only speak in very small words. Okay, I’m joking.

He also recounts in the book how he escaped to go to war in Vietnam and what he thought about it:

I thought, what if I’m in Vietnam and I’m shooting at some guy? He’s just like me, that guy. He sits down just like I do. He plays cards and he eats pizza, or the equivalent of it, just like normal people I know. He has a family. Why would I want to hurt this person?

Three hackers together

Of course, he tells of how he met Steve:

Steve and I got close right away, even though he was still in high school […] We two Steves did have a lot in common. We talked electronics, we talked about music we liked, and we traded stories about pranks we’d pulled. We even pulled a few together.

Another hacker who must be named is Captain Crunch, the legendary hacker who created the blue boxes. Woz read in the magazine Esquire an article called: “Secrets of the Little Blue Box”, an article about phone phreaks:

These people were able to figure out that by just whistling certain tones into a phone handset, they could make telephone call within the Bell phone system for free […] The article also talked about the ethics these guys supposedly had. That it wasn’t just about free calls. One of the guys said he was basically trying to do a good thing by finding flaws in the system and letting the phone company know what they were.

The Steves got to call and contact to John Draper and also got to meet him:

So I asked, “Are you Captain Crunch?” And he said, “I am he”

Can you imagine three wizards together is like John, Ringo, Paul and George but about computers.

By the way, albeit Woz had the Blue Box he paid his calls:

I always told people how I was ethical phone phreak who always paid for my own calls and was just exploring the system. And that was true. I used to get huge phone bills, even though I had my Blue Box that would’ve let me make any call for free.

Steve worked in HP designing calculators, while he was working there he built a dial-a-joke that became really famous in Cupertino. He posed as Polish guy named Stanley Zebrazutsknitski. Wozniak always was building things, for example, he built with pure hardware a game like Pong. Pong was the first successful video game (first in the arcade, later at home), Pong came from a company called Atari:

All in all, I ended up with twenty-eight chips for the Pong design. This was amazing, back in the days before microprocesors. Every bit of the game had to be implemented in wires and small gates- in hardware, in other words. There was no game program- that is, a game in software for that someone could load. It was all hardwired.

Jobs worked at Atari, therefore he (Woz) had the opportunity to show his work to the people of Atari and they invited him to work in a new Pong game:

And Steve says, “Well, there’s a caveat. It has to be done in four days” […] I didn’t sleep for four days and nights during this project […]The bottom line of this history is that I actually did finish this project in four days and nights somehow, and it worked.

Wow! Someday, I guess one of these days I will play-hack for four days equal to Wozniak.

Maybe you know about the Homebrew Computer Club. After the firs meeting he attended he began to build what would be the first computer in the world: Apple I, I really liked the following paragraph:

You see, whenever I solve a problem on an electronic device I’m building, it’s like the biggest high ever. And that’s what drives me to keep doing it, even though you get frustrated, angry, depressed, and tired doing the same thing over and over. Because at some point comes the Eureka moment. You solve it […] I didn’t realize it at the time, but that day, Sunday, June 29, 1975, was pivotal. It was the first time in history anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on the screen right in from of them.

Well, if you are geek, nerd or newbie you must read this book. You will find many interesting stories.

My first book in English

I am learning English, and this book was the first book I have ever read in this language. The reading is easy, albeit I didn’t know some words I felt I understood all paragraphs.


4 comentarios sobre “iWoz: How I read the autobiography of Wozniak and had enjoy doing it!

  1. This article iWoz: How I read the autobiography
    of Wozniak and had enjoy doing it! Omar, contains truly fantastic info and I discovered precisely what I was hoping for.
    Many Thanks.


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