‘iWoz’ : Steve Wozniak – Book Review

iwoz steve wozniak book reviewIf you have ever been a geek (even slightly), this book will connect to you instantly! We are all familiar with Steve Jobs, but there is another person who Co-founded Apple Computers – Steve Wozniak. In fact, Steve Wozniak was the guy who built Apple-I and Apple – II Computers. This book is an auto-biography.

Steve Wozniak was a fun loving geek and he was the first person to envision and create a full fledged computer that has a monitor (TV, back then) for output and keyboard for input. Till he did that, the computers were just processing units and you need to give inputs in bizarre ways like pressing a combination of switches and it gives you output over a group of lights!!

There are two things that strike the reader from the beginning – The support and encouragement he got from his father (including the values), and his love for electronics. The detail and passion with which he describes his school electronics projects, is proof enough for that! To, build a computer was his dream, and in his own words:

“Suddenly I realized that some incredible things were starting to happen with computers at these very early stages. Of course, they were no where near the point of making computers affordable or usable for the world. They weren’t even talking about a point where anyone could buy a computer and put it in your house and learn how to use it themselves. I thought that would be just the best thing, and that was the dream – THE DREAM, I have to put that in capital letters, because it was the single force that drove me for years afterward. How to make the dream come true – I thought about that constantly”

One of his guiding principles was to give the best product / user interface yet simplifying the design as much as possible by using the bare minimum chips/ devices required. Throughout the book, he takes a lot of effort in making the reader understand clearly the technical fine points behind all the electronic devices he developed. Sometimes, he goes in to a lot of detail, but still is able to connect with the non-geek reader!

He makes it quite clear to the reader that being a geek and inventing things takes a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. So, what drives him to do all that? In his own words,

“You see, whenever I solve a problem on an electronic device I am building, its 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!”

This auto-biography is written in a matter-of-fact manner! He does not hesitate to say that he could never have got the sample chips (which he needed for developing some device), if not for Steve Jobs, who talked to the representatives and made them give it free of cost! He also doesn’t mince words when he says that Steve Jobs gave him much less money (for designing a game), when he was supposed to give 50% of it. By the way, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were childhood friends and knew each other much before they started Apple together. But Steve Wozniak is not the guy to be bothered about money. He found, being an engineer and creating awesome devices that could help people in their daily life, a lot of fun! He summarizes his philosophy in his own words:

“One guy is really successful, and he is spending all his time running companies, managing them, making sure they are profitable, and making sales goals all the time. And the other guy, all he does is lounge around, doesn’t have much money, really likes to tell jokes, and follow gadgets and technology and all other things he finds interesting in the world. He just spends his life laughing.

In my head, the guy who’d rather laugh than control things is going to be the one who has the happier life. That’s just my opinion. I figure happiness is the most important thing in life – just how much you laugh. The guy whose head kind of floats, he is so happy. That’s who I am, who I want to be and have always wanted to be”

About the fun part, he tells in good detail (in the book) about a lot of pranks that he had played throughout his life! Right from designing a fake time bomb device that tik tik tik ‘sĀ  and keeping it in a friends locker, to distributing pamphlets in the name of a competitor company in an electronics fair, he has done it all! To our amusement, he explains them with much detail, and the number of pranks are so many that they are almost throughout the book!

He was always an engineer at work and an artist at heart! One of his advice to fellow innovators is : “If you are that rare engineer who’s an inventor and an artist, I am going to give you some advice that’s hard to take. That advice is : Work Alone.”

Excellent book that can incite passion for electronic stuff even to the most non-geek person reading the book! And the highlight of the book is the frank and no-nonsense narrative that keeps you smiling throughout! Must read.

Destination Infinity

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9 Replies to “‘iWoz’ : Steve Wozniak – Book Review”

  1. Looks like a good read , maybe i shall give it a go … I might get as big as apple pick some hints

    Bikram's

    That is the same reason I read it for… hey, we might become big competitors in future – like google vs microsoft šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚

  2. Nice post. Very interesting book. Steve is a genius and innovator. It is an interesting book on the early days of personal computer. However, his constant reminding us of what he did comes as a distraction.

    Google vs Microsoft? That is old. The new one is Apple vs Google. In my opinion.

    Maybe even Google vs Facebook. But Google is sure making a huge mark on whatever field it enters into… saving a very few. I love their professionalism.

    That constant reminder is perhaps because no one recognized his ideas. Many of us know S.Jobs but not S.Wozniak. Perhaps he feels he deserves more recognition. But otherwise, the book did give a huge insight to the earlier days of computers, which we are all blissfully unaware of!

  3. I have a signed copy of Steve Wozniak's autobiography courtesy a friend who got to shake his hands in Canada šŸ™‚ Nice review šŸ™‚ Have you read Knuth's autobiography or is there even one? That man is very inspiring and I'm having a good time reading his The Art of Computer Programming šŸ™‚

    Good. I would like to get my book signed by him too… šŸ™‚

    Since I have no connection with computer programming, I did not know about Donald Knuth till now šŸ™‚ Thanks for letting me know, I happened to read the wikipedia article on his art of computer programming. Seems impressive! It seems Bill Gates has said that if someone has finished reading that book, they ought to send him their resume. So, after finishing, you could do that – I guess šŸ™‚

  4. wonderful DI!!! thanks for letting me know his book šŸ™‚

    This one I want to read šŸ™‚ and the paras you have quoted were really nice šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚

    Oh no, so whom do I give this book in Chennai. You or Rak? Well, the first one to reply might get it. šŸ™‚

  5. I have never been a geek but I like Steve Wozniak. So may be I will read the book.

    Weird thing is that I m not getting your blog updates on my reader :(.

    I have subscribed to my own blog in google reader and it comes there! Anyways two posts in a week will be there in my blog for a few more months…

    If you are going to read the book, there will be exhaustive explanations about each of his electronic invention, albeit in common language – be prepared to handle that….

  6. Probably even Harini has subscribed to your old feed and hasnt updated (like I did before).. This book is something that I will surely love. I am a complete geek so would enjoy this for sure. I will definitely get hold of this.. I admire Steve Jobs a lot!! Have you heard his speech in Stanford? I keep listening to it again and again. It was very motivating. Thanks for a great review!

    Hey, can you give a link for that speech – maybe its in youtube, ill search… but if you come across this comment again, do give a link…

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