If 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 ‘s 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.
- You can buy IWOZ from flipkart.com if you live in India.
- You can buy iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It from Amazon, if you live in the US.