A Chat with Computing Pioneer Steve Wozniak

The man who co-founded Apple Computer and helped start the personal computer revolution, Steve Wozniak, talks about hacks and pranks, the early days at Apple, and the present and future of technology. Wozniak's new book is iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It.

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IRA FLATOW, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow.

Just over 30 years ago, a group of engineers, hackers, computer enthusiasts met in what today we call Silicon Valley. It was a regular meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club: a discussion of chips, wires, the offerings of a growing number of electronics manufacturers.

But at one meeting in 1975, a club member named Steve Wozniak set up a computer he had designed and built on his own. It had features that no one had ever seen before, features like a keyboard. You could type on it instead of having to flip toggle switches or deal with punch cards. It had a TV screen, not a paper tape or a printout. And it was what today we know as the Apple I, and it sparked a revolution in computing, starting to put the personal into personal computers.

Steve Wozniak went on to co-found Apple Computer with Steve Jobs, where he became known as the driving engineering force behind the company's innovative early designs. And Steve Wozniak, or as the Woz, as he's been called recently, meaning the last 30 years. He's co-founder of Apple Computer. He's the founder and CEO of Wheels of Zeus. I'm hoping he'll talk about that a little bit. He's also co-author with Gina Smith of a new book called iWoz: From the Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. It's just out from Norton. And I know that having fun is one of Steve Wozniak's prime realities about life, is it not, Steve?

Mr. STEVE WOZNIAK (Co-founder, Apple Computer): It sure is, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WOZNIAK: I've been having a lot of fun everyday. You know, pranks, jokes. But it actually started with a lifetime philosophy. When you're about 20 years old, you kind of think out - I figured out that it was better - less good to be successful and better to have a laughing life, laugh more than you frown all through your life. Because on the day you die, which one would you have said had the happier life, the better life? And so I put a lot of humor in my life.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. WOZNIAK: I just believe in whatever you're going to do, even if it's work, have a little bit of fun attitude about it. You can be happy.

FLATOW: Yeah, tell us about that day in that Homebrew Club when you set up that first little board in the Apple I.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Sure. The Homebrew Computer Club was the highlight of my life. Every two weeks, we'd meet on a Wednesday night. And I was too shy to ever talk in the club meeting, but the way that I could communicate sometimes was by doing good designs. I was very skilled at a certain type of circuit design.

Now I had no money, so I had to do everything for free. When I built this Apple I, sort of the first keyboard - the first computer to say a computer should look like a typewriter. It should have a keyboard. And the output device is a TV set. It wasn't really to show the world here is the direction the world should go. It was to really show the people around me, to boast, to be clever, to get acknowledgement for having designed a very inexpensive computer.

I had no money. I had no savings account. I mean I had to pay cash to my apartment because the check had bounced enough times. So I would bring down my color TV set, a Sears TV with a cable snaked into it - they had no video-in back in those days - and hooked it up to the circuit of very few chips and then a little keyboard you could type on. And I was trying to impress people with how did he do it with fewer chips than anyone could ever imagine?

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. 1-800-989-8255, 1-800-989-TALK. Talking with Steve Wozniak, author of iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. Not very modest things to say about yourself, Steve.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WOZNIAK: Well, I don't know. You know what? I don't - I want to take credit for having done some very, very good things, some very good designs, some software that was like art like Mozart would do. And I really believe I know why my designs were better than any other human being, but I don't want to take credit for starting Apple, for turning the world around or anything like that.

It's like other people could look at my designs. Steve Jobs came along. He had more of the future vision: We can bring this to everyone; we can start a company; we can sell it. My idea was never to sell anything. It was really to give it out.

As a matter of fact, I sat there with the Apple I we just described. Every computer before the Apple I had that faceplate panel that looks like a piece of switching equipment that scares you out of the network rooms these days. Every computer since the Apple I has had a keyboard as its, you know, its look.

And, yeah, my idea - so I started passing out the schematics and the code listings for that computer, telling everyone here it is. It's small, it's simple, it's inexpensive: Build your own. No idea to start a company. Steve Jobs came by later and say, you know, people are interested. Why don't we start a company?

FLATOW: So he was on a company side. You were on the design and invention side.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Yes.

FLATOW: Or was that - is that too simple?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Yeah, absolutely. And you know what? When you're designing and inventing the way I did, every minute of your life is put - every neuron in your brain into trying to think about the little code and how you can maybe have one less line of code and a little bit more straightforward from the beginning to the answer. And you don't have time to think about companies and products and how would I build this. So Steve Jobs and I were a very necessary pair.

And his first idea was really not even to build a computer. It was just - he had come from the surplus electronics parts world, where you go into a store and you see all these parts, like switches and relays...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. WOZNIAK: ...things that have been taken apart, and you can buy this one for $1.25 and this one for $0.50 cents and that other one for $6. And they might have some mercury switches that you can buy for, you know, six bucks each. So he came from that world, and he said let's sell PC boards for $40. We'll build them for $20 and sell them for $40.

The PC board is just a raw PC board. The thinking being that these - most - a lot of the people in the computer clubs can get their own chips, plug the chips in, and solder them in and they're done. They don't have to attach thousands of wires. That extra labor, that extra time was what kept them from building their own computers from my schematic.

And we - you know, neither one of us could be sure we'd get our money back on this investment, but we just wanted to have company of our own for once because we were best friends.

FLATOW: You talked - you mentioned something before about what it means to be a geek, I mean what it means to be someone who - what does that term mean to you? I mean you...

Mr. WOZNIAK: I - yes...

FLATOW: ...you mention it as artistically speaking.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Typically, a geek these days is associated with computers. And back then it would have been associated with electronic devices. Being an electronic genius was a reputation I had, maybe being even into math and science almost exclusively and not wanting to be in the other normal parts of the world.

But really, geek - although it's correlated with that type of individual, it's really more a characteristic where you don't socialize. You don't talk the normal languages. You hear people coming up, you know, doing their talk about hi, nice day, and the small talk starts up, and you don't even know the clues of how to do it. I don't to this day.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WOZNIAK: So - and you kind of feel embarrassed. You're an outsider. You become very scared to open your mouth around normal people.

FLATOW: But you see as much beauty in what you design in your circuitry and your schematics - and you mention this a bit - about as Picasso would see in his paintings.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Yes, but it was not deliberate. It was accidental. I had had a lifetime from fifth grade and sixth grade of building computer projects and building ham radios, and up and up and up the scale. I went - I had designed -in high school designed hundreds and hundreds of computers over and over and over, so I developed these skills without ever thinking I'd do it in life as job. I didn't - you know, college just didn't even have computers for an under-curriculum when I started college, so I had developed such skills as a little game, a game that I developed.

It's can you, Steve Wozniak, design the same computer - maybe it's a Varian 620i - can you design it on paper with fewer chips than last month? Can you design it with 79 chips instead of 80 chips?

I had played this game so long that I had all these little tricks in my head that I can't even explain. My head carried all sorts of circuits one way and then, ah, a different way I could twist it around and get the right outputs but use different parts of different chips that I had for free. Nothing was wasted; absolutely zero waste. I told this story recently to the Resource Recovery Association, recycling, and they loved to hear I didn't believe in waste.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: How come - why did you sign the inside of the Mac I - of the Macintosh computers, the original - your signature?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Sure.

FLATOW: Is that because like an artist you wanted to have your signature on it?

Mr. WOZNIAK: No, I had basically designed the Apple I, the Apple II computers. The Apple II was a large part of our Apple III. As we moved into the graphical user interface computers, we had two. One - the first one was the Lisa. Too expensive, it had a full megabyte of ram that cost 5,000 bucks then.

FLATOW: I remember that one, yeah.

Mr. WOZNIAK: But we had a lot of humanistic thinking that really came out of the Lisa designers. The Mac group was a quick little, almost (unintelligible) project in the company.

My best friends in the company, which are usually not the high-up guys and the ones that accorded with the top degrees, but the ones who are the interesting people; the ones who never went to college but can design things with almost no parts and no waste the way I did, and write the cleverest little code and solve any problem and just loved what they were doing. They were in the Mac group, so I joined the Macintosh group.

And while I was there and it was getting kicked off, I had an airplane crash. After the plane crash, instead of coming back to Apple, I went to Berkeley and got my degree, earned my degree, and I put on some rock concerts. But all the Mac people felt so much that I was a part of that project, even though I didn't finish with it, that we all had our signatures on the inside and so nobody can see them. And I like that little subtlety. You know it's there. It's like having a wedding ring with the diamond on the inside. You know it's there, and the rest of the world doesn't have to see it.

FLATOW: You say that you've never left Apple.

Mr. WOZNIAK: I have - I wanted to always remain some level of loyalty to the company and never depart, so I stay like with the minimum salary on the payroll continually just so the computer records I'm still an employee. And, yeah, I've always done that. Of course, I'm always at the bottom of the org chart. I don't want to - I just was non-political and didn't see myself as a person who could push people around, make their decision, you know, and tell them how lousy their work was.

FLATOW: Could you see the coming of the iPod?

Mr. WOZNIAK: No, I couldn't. I saw lots of music devices. I loved playing with music devices. And like most of the world, I thought of a music device as a music device. Steve Jobs tends to look beyond that, and he doesn't see a music device as having any importance at all - how fast it is, how many songs it can hold, and all that - he sees music itself to a person as a being the important thing.

Music itself to the person took a whole lot of steps. It took a service that could sell you songs at a reasonable price, download them easily with almost not steps, no work, no hassle on your part; put it into a computer and then you plugged the iPod in, and magically, with no steps on your own, it gets into this device you can carry with you, a satellite of a computer.

So basically the formula to get the music from the guy who played the song had a much shorter path through an iPod than any other music device that was being built. I bought tons of the MP3 players in the day, and each one you had to treat it as a music device on its own. Being a satellite to the computer let the computer access the Internet and it really made the whole process easy.

FLATOW: Why was he able to see this and no one else?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Because all through time in Apple products, even from our very first ones, that's how he looked at the world, that you don't really want a piece of technology, a certain type of chip. What you want is a solution to a problem in life, some cause, some issue that you want in your life that'll help you. And it's how do you make that almost one step - say it and it happens.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. We're talking with Steve Wozniak, author with Gina Smith of iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing it. We're going to take a short break, come back, take your calls. I know lots of you want to talk to The Woz, so stay with us. We'll be right back after this short break.

I'm Ira Flatow. This is TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

FLATOW: You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY.

I'm Ira Flatow. We're talking this hour with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, founder of and CEO of Wheels of Zeus, and co-author with Gina Smith of the new book iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It.

When did hackers become a bad word? Do you remember when we were doing - when we were hacking, it was a good word? Hackers were people you looked up to. Hey, they could do stuff.

Mr. WOZNIAK: I don't know where in my life. I think the first time I really became aware of the word hackers it was being starting to be used as a bad word of somebody who plays around with computers, tries to get into them too far...

FLATOW: Yeah.

Mr. WOZNIAK: ...and causes a problem. But I read - then I went back and I read, and I read about these guys at MIT and the Model Railroad Club that would do anything they could to get a minute here, an hour there on a computer, writing programs, trying to see what they could do with it, and it was called hacking. Hacking away at the problem, hacking, hacking, hacking. And they were called hackers, and it was a good hacking, just trying to get the most out of it.

FLATOW: Yeah, yeah.

Mr. WOZNIAK: So I - and I - you know, and although this word hacker goes around, I've never really been associated with the hackers very much. I am sympathetic to them. I understand how their mind works. It's like a child that is born and wants to explore every little - open up every little drawer there is and find out how the world works, what is hard and what is soft, and, you know, what are drapes and what is sunlight.

FLATOW: But you did have some hacking experience when you started, although it wasn't called hacking in those days. And I'm talking about the blue boxes.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Yes, I did.

FLATOW: You did. I remember I made one when I was in college. You can speak for nothing over the phone. Remember that?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Well, I was kind of amazed because I first found out about blue boxes in an article in Esquire magazine labeled fiction. That article was the most truthful article I've ever read in my life. The people in it - I got this wrong in the book - or actually I didn't catch the mistake in the book. I think Gina interpreted things wrong and in doing the editing got this story that it's a fiction, that people were made up.

No, those people are real. They're real names or they're real handles they used and the real words they used in their vocabulary. That article was so truthful, and it told about a mistake in the phone company that let you dial phone calls anywhere in the world. What an amazing thing to discover. I felt like, oh, my God, I know something that a million people don't know. I would shake and quiver. Could this be possible?

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Went with Steve Jobs, determined it was possible. I designed a clever little blue box, all digital. You know, I was proud of my design. And Steve and I went and sold them in the dorms in Berkeley, door-to-door.

FLATOW: We only made them with a couple of resisters or something, and that was all it took to...

Mr. WOZNIAK: No, there was a black box.

FLATOW: ...to get to the dial tone.

Mr. WOZNIAK: There was a black box that - the black box, if anyone phoned you, they wouldn't get billed, and it only cost two bucks in parts. Ramparts magazine printed the schematic and basically a lawsuit put them out of business at the time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WOZNIAK: And there were other places. Abbie Hoffman had a book, Steal This Book.

FLATOW: Right, right.

Mr. WOZNIAK: It had a schematic of a black box for a couple of bucks in parts.

FLATOW: Right, I remember that, yeah.

Mr. WOZNIAK: But one of the pole vaulters in our dorm got a note - letter from his parents in Florida saying they wondered how come they hadn't been billed for two calls to him.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: 1-800-989-8255. Chris in Flagstaff. Hi, welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

CHRIS (Caller): Hi.

FLATOW: Hi there.

CHRIS: Hi.

FLATOW: Go ahead.

CHRIS: Yeah, my question for Steve - well, first of all I'd like to say I've been an Apple owner and user for play and for work since Apple II days. So I wanted to thank him for his designs over the years and for the innovation. Wonderful. Second...

Mr. WOZNIAK: Well, that's so good, that's so good to hear.

CHRIS: Yeah, my question is what do you see as the next new revolution or pervasive kind of innovation in computing?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Well...

CHRIS: And I'll take my answer offline.

FLATOW: Okay. The question you never get asked, I'm sure.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Chris, I have to be honest. I do not like to talk about the future. I don't like to be one of those people. It's so easy to have a very vague idea and say, oh, computers will be 3D-ish and then 10 years later I'll say I predicted it 10 years ahead. I don't think that's honest and I don't think that's valid and worth anything.

Right now there are tremendous advances being made in displays for your televisions in your home. There are laser systems that might project computers in a very small, tiny space. You know, it's just hard to say where do computers go from here because it's - you know, believe it or not, computers have been incrementally improving for now for about a decade or so, and I don't like to predict 10 years out. It's just too vague.

When I was at Apple, I'd predict things a year away, and we were working on them and I was right. If I ever predicted two years out, wow, here's how we can make this piece of hardware work better and better than it does, someone would come up with an alternate piece of hardware and people would decide to go that way and use that one instead, and I'd be wrong almost always predicting two years.

Now predictions can sound really good if you're good with words and can express them eloquently and give people ideas and inspiration in their head. But I'm not really good at that, so I don't want to.

FLATOW: Well, even Bill Gates never predicted the Internet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WOZNIAK: Well, I don't know. It depends on who you talk to. Bill Gates did predict that computers for people made sense because he wrote a basic. He wrote a basic. He actually did technical work, programming.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. WOZNIAK: You know, a lot of people that take credit and, you know, all they ever did was the business.

FLATOW: Is there bad blood between Apple and Microsoft?

Mr. WOZNIAK: I never sensed really bad blood between Microsoft and Apple. A lot of Macintosh users feel badly about PCs and do have some bad feelings. I call them Macintosh bigots a little. They say, oh, no, only the Macintosh is the good one, and I don't like to be that way.

And it comes from the fact that there were points in time when we were told that because the Macintosh had nice little pictures and icons and a mouse and cursors and menus, it had all these wonderful things, and in the PC you had to type and memorize commands to move a file from here to there, you had to remember all the names of the paths it was in, the folders, the disks it was on - and we were told by the business people because you have pictures, you're a toy, and we didn't like that. And we knew we had a better machine just as capable of any calculation, and yet it was being called a toy and that you could only do real work, real powerful work when you have this machine where you type, you know, C-colon-slash-slash, and you know, you type in...

FLATOW: Right. I've seen the commercial now. I'm a Mac. I'm a PC. They...

Mr. WOZNIAK: And it was - you know - and that made us feel, yeah, but we were being put down for something that we knew as users was a wrong assessment. And now of course every computer in the world is a Macintosh now, so we were right. Nobody ever came back and apologized and said, hey, you were right.

FLATOW: Is iPod the revenge, Apple's revenge?

Mr. WOZNIAK: No, no, no. I think Apple's revenge is just the fact that Windows, you know, PCs all became Macintoshes in a way.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. You...

Mr. WOZNIAK: The iPod I think is - has a big advantage that the Apple II had. The Apple II started this company, had so many bucks pouring in all the way, and we weren't even passed by the IBM PC in sales until 1983. And well through the early Macintosh years, the Apple II was earning so much money for the company.

It was an open system, so accessible to other people, individuals. Even high school students in their own homes could figure out how to design circuits to plug in that would make it do something fantastic with music equipment. They could write software that would play games. Tons of little guys had this opening, so you didn't have one company selling the Apple II, which is Apple. You had a thousand companies selling products for the Apple II.

Here's the iPod. You got 3,000 companies making accessories for it. Sure, most of them might be cases, something pretty simple. But when you walk into a store you see iPod this, iPod that, iPod this, iPod this. No wonder we have 75 percent of the market. It looks like we dominate all - you know, if you buy an iPod, I'm going to have all these extra things I can add onto it. That's attractive to people. If I buy the next device that might be sitting there on its own with a couple of that company's accessories, but I'm limited.

FLATOW: Why did Apple lose the race in the office? Why did - why was Mac not successful in, you know, in competing with PC?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Yeah. When the PC came out we were really competing up front with it, with the way people were using Apple IIs in the office, which was a little bit higher resolution monitor and a little more memory to do larger spreadsheets, larger financial forecasts. So we built this machine called the Apple III to be that machine.

The Apple III had a bunch of problems in its - some I believe in its conception, some in the features that it was forced to have. We were a marketing-driven company, so marketing defined the product - not engineering -so it wasn't that much fun to a raw engineer like the Apple II was. It also had hardware problems and software problems from day one. And even if we correct them a year later, it's got a bad name. So the Apple III never took off.

But I think the real reason was computers were now finding their place in companies where people at their desks would sit down and do a bunch of forecasts and calculations and prepare documents for meetings that they couldn't even do with the company computers. This one was now better. And those companies had IBM purchasing ability already. Managers were allowed to buy anything that was approved, that was IBM, because IBM was already in the company selling mainframes. So when IBM came out with the PCs it was so easy for managers to buy a few PCs.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. WOZNIAK: It kind of like nickel change for their projects maybe, and Apples were a much harder purchase.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. You write in your book - I'm talking with Steve Wozniak who with Gina Smith has written a terrific - if you're a Mac fan, even if you're not - called iWoz: I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. We're talking here.

In one section of your book I was a little shocked. You said, it's funny in some ways Apple is the bane of my life.

Mr. WOZNIAK: I say that all the time because that's what it is.

FLATOW: Tell me why.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Well, because - well, I had - part of me is, you know, philosophies that I've true to my whole life. Pretty much I want to be Steve Wozniak, who I decided I was at a young age and not change. I want to go back to school and get my college degree like I would have without Apple.

I want to teach young kids like I would have without Apple. And part of it is I'm accessible. I'm open. And so many people e-mail me and get me. And as much as I can I try to answer people, listen to them, be polite and say yes.

And I don't have a staff that can handle that for me. And it just leaves me with absolutely no time in the world. I mean if I were smart enough, I'd design a pill that gives you, you know, one hour of sleep works like eight.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And you took some time off to become a high school teacher, right? You were teaching?

Mr. WOZNIAK: No. Actually elementary school...

FLATOW: An elementary school teacher.

Mr. WOZNIAK: ...and not - I wanted to be an elementary school teacher my whole life.

FLATOW: Really?

Mr. WOZNIAK: In sixth grade I told my dad that I wanted to be an engineer first, like he was.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. WOZNIAK: But secondarily I wanted to be a fifth grade teacher because my teacher was so important to me and was giving me the education that was going to take me through life and through this world.

And all my life that thought was so important: I want to get back to education. When I was in college I paid attention to child psychology portions of our psychology classes. I watch other people work with babies. And I saw the baby as developing like a computer and it intrigued me in my life. I wanted to do that.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. WOZNIAK: So young children were always so important to me. Adults should treat children with more respect. We should put more monies in our schools. I grew up on that side of the coin.

So when I had a chance - I was giving computers. I had a lot of money. And I had much more money than you ever need in your life to live on. So I was giving computer labs to school districts. I was - but then I decided you should really give yourself.

And I went and I started teaching computers to young kids, to fifth graders at first, later to sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth graders. I also started teaching teachers. And that was back in the days when we'd wire up the labs ourselves and crimp on the Ethernet connectors and then we would...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. WOZNIAK: ...I'd wire up the district with T1 lines. And they were so expensive I switched to radio and radio took over. And then the Internet came, supplying the Internet, programming routers with esoteric commands that no human being would really want to do if they didn't have to to make these things send the data signals in the right directions and to the proper addresses and learning about all that. Setting up servers, Web servers, e-mail servers.

So that became my life for quite a while. And that became - that's a bane too, because, you know what? When you're providing a service to somebody, you're the guy they always call when something's wrong. And I'm always squished in between the middle. I don't know where the problem is. Is it my problem? Is it a piece of equipment? Is it a wire that's bad? Is it my supplier? Is it your end?

FLATOW: We're talking with Steve Wozniak. Let's go to the phones. Eric in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Hi, Eric.

ERIC (Caller): Hey. How are you doing, Steve?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Eric, good to hear from you.

ERIC: Yes, it means a lot - it's unbelievable and it means a lot to be able to communicate with you. Why did you guys let the GUI go, the graphical user interface, because it seemed like you would be where Microsoft - as a company you would be the richest company like Microsoft in that?

And also I wanted to know, will eventually there be a hard drive without that, like, turntable needle thing? Will it be a, say, laser hard drive in the future?

FLATOW: Hang...

ERIC: And also...

FLATOW: No, Eric. You only get two. Go ahead, Steve.

Mr. WOZNIAK: Okay. First of all, Eric, thank you. Why did - you know since we had the GUI interface with graphics and menus and mouses, why did we let Microsoft come into it? We were there first.

Well, it turns out that we had a few important parts of our computers that were done by Microsoft already. The Apple II, our bread-winning product, had license I think for something like five years or seven years basic from them.

I wrote our first basic and it wasn't a floating point and the Microsoft one was. When that was about to expire our whole company's income depended on this one product and we were sort of strapped.

And I think we licensed something very important. It might have been the GUI at that time. At the point we licensed the GUI we thought we were - we sort of -we claimed to the judge we would license it for one version of Windows only. But the judge said it's got the words and derivative works.

So it got into a lot of legal entanglements. Did we negotiate well or did we negotiate poorly? Steve Jobs says we probably negotiated poorly. You know, so it's hard to say.

Anyway, they got it legally. Big deal. That shouldn't - that should embolden us. We have the system that they wanted.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. WOZNIAK: We were there first. You know, we were the leaders in the world. It makes me feel good.

Every time our market share went down - our market share largely went down because in the days before they went to the GUI, their computers were a lot less expensive to make. If they had said, let's do what's best for the world.

Steve Jobs was upset that Bill Gates wasn't doing what was great for the people of the world. He was just doing it for like the expedience of the day. They built the computer that was cheaper and would wind up - or the system that was cheaper and would make more money and rode the coattails of this simpler computer.

And we had to pay more for ours. So our market share went down, down, down over time. Hey, every time the market share got less, I felt that much more special.

You know, when you chose to have a Macintosh, you knew what it's beauty was and why it was better than DOS, and in later days why it was better than Windows. And you did feel special.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. Talking with Steve Wozniak on TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News. Steve is author of the new book, iWoz, with Gina Smith. 1-800-989-8255.

You write in your book that in my head the guy who would rather laugh than control things is the one who will be happier in life in talking about Steve Jobs and you. The guy who would rather laugh...

Mr. WOZNIAK: Oh, I wasn't - I don't think I was talking specifically about Steve Jobs. It was just a general philosophy about one person grows up and he's kind of managing companies and every day he's working making sure this is in place and that's in place. Another guy is just kind of loose. He does what he loves to do in life. He's laughing. He's telling jokes. He's smiling. He's not frowning very often.

FLATOW: Well, what would you do that's left that you haven't done that you want to do now?

Mr. WOZNIAK: That's left in life?

FLATOW: Yeah. What...

Mr. WOZNIAK: Lifetime goals?

FLATOW: Yeah.

Mr. WOZNIAK: I've really pretty much hit them. I am the person I want to be. I'm recognized as an engineer. I mean, I've done 10 times - I've had 10 times the luck of - if I said in sixth grade who I'd like to be in life, I was absolutely essentially, you know, a computer engineer, well-recognized for such excellence.

Who could ever dream of more? I got to teach and had some of the greatest times in my life learning that I had some teaching skills and doing some incredible things teaching 200 hours of computers a year to fifth graders, making them experts at certain things.

I wanted to be funny. And I'm always acknowledged for my pranks and jokes nowadays. And I sit back and think, what could I define for myself as a life that would have been better?

FLATOW: Wouldn't change anything different?

Mr. WOZNIAK: No. I always came to this attitude I wouldn't change anything different. I have a few little reservations. You know, not everything in life can go perfectly according to plan. I mean I didn't keep every girlfriend I ever had.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: So you have - so you're just going to go with the flow now and see where it takes you?

Mr. WOZNIAK: Well, go with the flow, I also have had a very low-stress life. And that's pretty much, you know, whatever it's kind of directing you to do right now, do it and be happy and don't be upset because you have to stand in line. It's just sort of that's part of the game.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. Well, I want to thank you for taking the time to be with us. It's certainly a pleasure to meet you, and wish you luck. And we're talking with Steve Wozniak, author of the book, iWoz - with Gina Smith - How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, Had Fun Doing It.

I know you're going to have fun reading it. I highly recommend it to you. The holidays are coming up the end of the year. You might want to put it on your shopping list.

Thank you, Steve...

Mr. WOZNIAK: And I'd like to thank Gina Smith as well.

FLATOW: ...for taking time to be with us. We're going to take a short break.

When we come back we're going to talk about a crisis in the library system at the Environmental Protection Agency. Scientists are in a revolt about closing down some of the libraries at the EPA. So stay with us. We'll be right back after this short break.

(Soundbite of music)

I'm Ira Flatow. This is TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News.

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