Woz, My dad bought an Apple //c back in 1982 (I think) after our Commodore 64 failed to impress him. We had a neighbor who had a //c as well, so we pirated software between us, based on what we could find on Bulletin Boards (with my 300 baud modem). Yes, we also made some purchases, but at the time, none of us had any real appreciation for what we had.
I used my //c to play a bunch of games, make posters and signs, and write school papers. I thought I was the coolest kid in school, because I had a “computer”. At the time, I had no idea what Apple was about, and had someone mentioned the names Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or anyone else mentioned in “Pirates”, I would have given a dumb, blank stare in response. To me, it was this cool toy that did just about anything I could imagine wanting to do.
I took a BASIC class in high school, and learned on IBM computers. When I discovered that I could write BASIC programs on my //c, I was ecstatic! I started writing simple programs to flash names of girls on the screen who I had crushes on, and so on. We’re talking really simple here. But seeing these things work gave me such a feeling of happiness and confidence, I can’t begin to express it.
When my dad decided it was time to get a newer, better computer in 1987(?), I figured “ok, something bigger and better than my //c”. I had no clue what I was in for. He bought a Mac SE, and the first thing I remember saying to him when he showed me the interface was “Why do I have to click the mouse twice? Shouldn’t it be once? That’s stupid!” When I left for college in 1989, I took my //c and a handful of games (my favorite being “Below The Root”, which I used to LOVE), along with AppleWorks (the original AppleWorks). I used it for two years, and then came back home to finish my degree.
In the next several years, living with my parents, I graduated with an MBA, and started using a 6100/60, and just before my parents moved to Florida (leaving me to pay rent in our house in Staten Island, NY), I bought a Mac Clone (PowerBase). I set up my //c on my desk right next to my PowerBase, and at one point in time, I even got the //c to call the Mac (using that old 300 baud modem). It stayed connected only long enough for me to write “Hi” to myself, and when I saw it appear on the Mac screen, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here was a 16-year-old computer talking to a 16-day-old computer. At the time, Steve Jobs was just returning to Apple, and I started to hear his name a lot more frequently. I researched him, found out a bit about his past, and discovered your name, and your involvement. Prior to this, I really didn’t follow the computer industry much, except to know that I was using the better, less popular platform.
I now own a Yosemite G3/400, and my PowerBase is connected via Ethernet and sitting under my desk, but the //c sits proudly on the desk next to the Blue G3. I now know and appreciate who it was who created the //c, and who wrote the BASIC that I used to make Stacey and Laura’s names appear flashing on my screen. I now understand who you are, and what you are about, and I feel foolish for calling Steve Jobs my “hero”. Granted, as a current AAPL shareholder, and Mac user/evangelist, he is a hero of sorts, but when it comes to computers in general, my early involvement, and the joy I got when I was a kid, I now know that it is you I have to thank for putting in the blood, sweat and tears (not to mention putting up with Steve Jobs!).
I almost never use the //c anymore, but even at 17 years old, it still boots up, and still runs programs off those flimsy floppies. I even found a girl recently who had a //e and used to play Below The Root! Too bad, she was not interested in going out with me. Her loss 🙂
I have a “cool” Web site at http://www.stealth.net which you will find amusing, if not creative and cool, just for the navigation metaphor.
Thanks, Woz, for inventing the machine that made me love computers, and helping start the company that has shaped so many important details in my adult computing life. Whether you wanted it or not, whether you cared or not, you made a difference to a lot of people, and I, for one, will forever cherish that. You’re my hero.