Steve Wozniak hasn’t been involved in Apple business for a long, long time. However, that wasn’t enough to stop him from participating in a recent, wide-ranging discussion at CeBIT 2014 in Hannover — on everything from Tim Cook’s performance as CEO, to whether or not Apple still has the cool factor.
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It was always a bizarre story — what could Apple possibly have to gain from that, when it is already has the best-selling smartphone in the world — but it certainly made for a good headline. The only problem? Woz says he never meant it.
Steve Wozniak has been announced as the headline speaker for next week’s Apps World North America event in San Francisco.
Running February 5-6, Apps World is an event presenting the latest insight into the multi-platform app ecosystem, expected to attract more than 8,000 attendees.
Cult of Mac has reported on Xiaomi — the multi-billion dollar tech company commonly referred to by the Chinese media as “the Apple of the East” — before.
Would Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs have created the Apple I as a Kickstarter project had they been born in, say, 1985 and 1990 rather than 1950 and 1955?
He may have been misquoted about disliking the new iPads, but Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently had something else to say which might prove even more controversial: that Apple and Google should work together.
“Sometimes I say ‘Go to Joe’s Diner’ and [Siri] doesn’t know where Joe’s Diner is,” Woz told the BBC’s UK technology program Click — adding that, “Usually I find out that Android does.”
Last week, we reported that cutesy-wutesy-fuzzy-wuzzy-wumpus-bear (and Apple co-founder) Steve Wozniak was unimpressed with the new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display. His supposed complaint? 128GB just wasn’t enough for a man with a huge media collection like him!
It seemed uncharacteristic for Woz to publicly bash the company he helped create. Woz is an innocent, and usually reacts to every new Apple product with wide-eyed glee, so his complaints seemed strange. For good reason, too, because Woz says he was misquoted, and actually likes the new iPads just fine.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he’s not interested in Apple’s new iPads because the neither model meets his needs. Woz didn’t get a chance to watch the keynote live because he was on a plane, but he caught up with the news when he landed and then emailed his wife to say, “nope, I don’t want one of those.”
When we share our innermost thoughts on a blog, send pictures of loved ones through Facebook, or even divulge the unhealthy foods we ate for dinner from our iPhone, we trust the companies that run those services with our data. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Companies like Dropbox, AT&T, Foursquare, and Linked In.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), initially funded by three big donors in 1990 including Apple’s own Steve Wozniak, published its third yearly report on the best and worst of these companies.
The results may surprise you: Apple has one of the worst scores on the chart.
The Cupertino company gets only one star – on par with internet behemoth Yahoo and telcom giant AT&T – and that was awarded for fighting for privacy rights in congress. (It’s worth noting that Yahoo’s one star gets an extra sparkly patina due to the company’s “silent battle for user privacy” in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).
The report examined the public policies of major internet companies, including service providers, cloud storage companies, blogging platforms, social networking sites, and the like, to figure out whether they were committed to backing us up when our own government wants access to our data. The point of the report is to motivate companies to be more transparent, and do better.
EFF’s scorecard was released in the spring, before NSA and PRISM were in the spotlight, but the criteria were prescient.
Companies were rated by whether they:
- Require a warrant for content of communications.
- Tell users about government data requests.
- Publish transparency reports.
- Publish law enforcement guidelines.
- Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts.
- Fight for users’ privacy in Congress.
Apple earned its lone star for joining the Digital Due Process Coalition. However it does not require a warrant, tell users about government data requests, publish transparent reports or law enforcement guidelines, nor does it fight for users’ privacy rights in court.
Compare this to a company like Twitter, which does all of these things. The microblogging service scores favorably across all the EFF categories, as does internet provider Sonic.net.
Google rates a five out of six, falling short a star for not telling users about government access requests; Dropbox ranks the same, demoted a star for not fighting for users’ privacy rights in court.
Overall, it’s great to know how private our communications are. (Or not, as the case may be.) Reports like this one are a step towards transparency and understanding of our own ability to interact privately, at least within the realm of the law. If a company we trust is cavalier about our own data, perhaps we should contact them and ask them why they aren’t scoring so well. Maybe the companies will make some changes in policy, or maybe they’ll lose some customers when they don’t.
Either way, if privacy is important to you, you can see above exactly how important it isn’t, and the companies it isn’t important to.
You can download the full PDF report here.
The big screen biopic Jobs opened this summer to mixed reviews, primarily over the film’s lack of accuracy in depicting events from Steve Jobs life and Apple’s history. It’s not the first movie out about Jobs and it definitely won’t be the last as filmmakers strive to tell a celluloid version of the life of the mercurial Apple co-founder.
A lot of Apple old-timers have commented on the accuracy of the movie, but it took a Mountain View, CA local-access TV show called John Wants Answers to get Steve Wozniak, Daniel Kottke and Andy Hertzfeld together to dish fact from fiction. Host John Vink has a long history with the Cupertino company; he was an engineer at Apple from 1996 to 2012 and currently heads Macintosh desktop engineering for Nest Labs.
The two-hour discussion went through the film scene by scene, peppered with entertaining banter and some surprising recollections from the panel. Dan Kottke, who also worked as a script consultant on the movie, noted that “in making that film, it was a huge choice of where to start it and where to end it…I thought the movie did a pretty good job of getting the emotional notes right.”
Read on to know more about why no one ever got fired over kerning, had to ask what a Macintosh was and why you should watch TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Fact Versus Fiction
The general consensus was that events, dates, facts and fiction were occasionally conflated to tell a better story. Many scenes were partially correct, but key details were altered. Some events portrayed were complete fiction, and the chronology wasn’t always right.
One example is the story of the Apple I and the Homebrew Computer Club. In Jobs the film, a young Steve Jobs stumbles across Wozniak’s new creation – a computer with a keyboard and screen – and becomes mesmerized staring into the TV monitor. He then sells the idea of a computing revolution to a reluctant Woz and convinces his shy companion to bring his system to the Homebrew Computer Club.
Woz spoke at length about what really happened:
“Steve and I both had gone over to a friend’s house, Captain Crunch, John Draper of the old blue box phone phreaking fame,” recalled Wozniak. “He sat down at a terminal, a teletype, and he started typing. Then he began playing chess with a computer in Boston.” Woz and Jobs were dumbfounded.
“Whoa!” said Woz. I thought: “this is just like Pong. I have to have this ability.”
Woz got some chips, an expensive keyboard ($60 – uppercase only) and wired the thing into his TV set. “This was not a computer, this was a terminal,” said Woz, “But it was a very short step before that terminal just got a little addition that made it a computer.”
Soon Woz made those additions and while Jobs was off at college, he started going to the HomeBrew computer club. Every two weeks, Wozniak hauled his TV set in the car, set up everything on a table in the lobby and started programming in earnest. Soon crowds began gathering and he started showing off his creation.
The buzz was growing, so Woz recalled that during one time Jobs was back home, “I pulled him to the club and showed him all the people around me. And he got the idea that we could sell them. I would have given them away for free.” The HomeBrew computer club already was full of people who wanted to change the world and Woz wanted to help.
“This is the complete opposite of the movie,” interjected show host John Vink. “In the movie we had Steve Jobs trying to convince you [Woz] to come to HomeBrew and you said ‘Nah, I don’t wanna go.'”
“Oh no,” replied Wozniak, “I’d been there since day one.”
What’s a Macintosh?
The development of Lisa and Macintosh were seminal events for the future of Apple. The group concurred that the scene where the Lisa team was chewed out for not having multiple fonts in the word processor was complete fiction. Nobody was fired for a lack of typefaces or kerning, but they did note that a different engineer at Apple was fired around that same time for not wanting to undertake the effort to build a mouse for the system.
Many of the celluloid scenes did portray parts of events accurately, with dramatic effect added for flair. One clip included in the trailer portrays Jobs drafting a young Andy Hertzfeld for the Macintosh team. When Hertzfeld asks for more time to continue working on his Apple II project, Jobs yanks the computer off his desk and says “you’re working on the Macintosh team now.” Then a quick cut to Apple employee Bill Fernandez, who asks “What’s a Macintosh?”
Via email I asked the panel if that was how things really happened, or just good theater?
All three agreed that the Mac project was not a secret around Apple engineers and management at that time.
Nobody would ever have asked “What’s a Macintosh?” That line was just tossed in for dramatic effect, and Fernandez was actually working in Japan at that time. But Hertzfeld did confirm that he lost his computer in the transition.
“[Jobs] came by my desk and said “you’re working on the Mac now’,” said Hertzfeld. “I had just started this new OS for the Apple II, DOS 4.0… and I wanted to get it in good enough shape that someone else could take it over. Steve said ‘Are you kidding? The Apple II’s obsolete, the Apple II’s gonna be dead, you gotta work on the Mac!”
Hertzfeld pleaded for more time, but ultimately to no avail. “Then he unplugged my computer and carried it away. So I had no choice but to go after him!”
The Mac Failed Terribly
Some of the most animated discussion centered around Jobs departure from Apple in 1985 and the initial failure of the Macintosh project. They felt the movie didn’t accurately portray why Jobs was removed from the Mac team.
Woz: “The real situation was that the Mac failed terribly. Totally. We built a factory to build 50,000 of them and we were selling 500 a month. Steve had cancelled projects because they could only sell 2,000 a month.”
“I think he was taking it real hard that he’d failed for a third computer he’d tried to create and his vision really didn’t understand you have to build a market, it takes time, you aren’t going to sell 50,000 on day one. And meanwhile, we had to save the company.”
Jobs wanted to cancel or hamstring the Apple II in favor of the Macintosh, but it was important to continue selling and marketing the older system for a few more years. It generated most of the revenue. That was the primary business decision.
Hertzfeld chimed in: “I tell that story a little bit differently. The Mac did sell a lot of units initially, because of its novelty, because of its positive qualities. In June of 1984 it sold over 60,000 units. So they upped the forecast because Christmas was the big time and they thought they’d sell 80,000 units.”
But sales fell off steeply after the back-to-school rush in early fall, and by the end of the year sales were down to about 1,000 a month.
“When the Macs weren’t selling, a major mistake they made was trying to focus it on the office market,” recalled Hertzfeld. This was the time of the Lemmings commercial, a disastrous followup to the wildly successful 1984 spot. “The whole Macintosh Office thing never really got developed. The Mac needed a hard disk, that was really the biggest single design mistake that we made.”
Kottke: “And meanwhile Lisa had a hard drive.”
Woz: “Patience, patience, patience. Don’t put out a machine when it’s not a good enough machine for the price you’re selling this year. Work on it, work on it, work on it, and put it out when it is a good enough machine to sell at the price you’re offering.”
Steve Jobs and Apple clearly learned that lesson in the post-NeXT period.
Woz: “The Lisa was the right machine, with the right amount of RAM, but it was the wrong year for pricing. We finally got the Lisa back when we got OS X, actually, that’s what I like to say.”
Summing Things Up
The panel generally thought the that TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley was a better portrayal of events of this period. Regarding Jobs, “there was no sense of suspense about this movie” said Wozniak. It didn’t show Steve’s thought process, how he reasoned and argued with people.
Hertzfeld noted that both movies had good acting, but Pirates had the better script. He felt that Jobs often felt like a laundry list of incidents instead of something which would show a deeper meaning.
Kottke said the producers of the film faced many decisions about what to put in and what to leave out, such as details about Pixar and NeXT. He said the filmmakers had tried very hard to get things right.
But one of Kottke’s most surprising memories might have been a quick quip to Woz: “Did you not love the Apple III? Because we all thought it was great!”
For more fascinating details, you can watch the entire two hour episode of John Wants Answers on YouTube.
- Source John Wants Answers
- Image Photos: Jeff Lee