iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon

Published 28.05.2008 ‘Books’ Engineering & Technology Magazine

This book is a personal recollection from the designer and sole creator of the Apple I and II personal computers, Steve Wozniak. If you fondly recall what a Varian or a Data General Nova was, if you ever owned a HP 35 and are excited by phone freaking, TV jammers, ham radio, or if you ever wondered where the logo on your iPod was from – this is the book for you.

By Steve Wozniak with Gina Smith, W.W. Norton & Co

“We thought low-cost computers would empower people to do things they never could before,” recalls Wozniak.

Growing up in Santa Clara County (now ‘Silicon Valley’), Wozniak was an engineer from childhood, building his first computer, the ‘Cream Soda’, in his teens. Life changed in 1975, when he was dragged to the Homebrew Computer Club, a weekly meeting of electronic enthusiasts in Gordon French’s garage. Looking over designs passed around for an Altair, Wozniak had an idea.

Using the Cream Soda as a base, he connected a keyboard and a television to the processor, thereby setting the standard for every computer ever since. He coined the term ‘monitor’, wrote a floppy-disk controller, a BASIC interpreter and used ROM for boot up.

The computer that would change the world is built in front of the reader’s eyes in accessible and inspiring detail, and the book is rich with techno-candy. Logic games, binary and prime number love stories, dial-a-jokes, ARPANET terminals and a myriad of computer chips pepper its pages. Wozniak is likeable, and full of optimism.

It concludes with reflections on living life the Woz way. “If you’re an engineer who’s an inventor and also an artist, I’m going to give you advice that might be hard to take – work alone!”