Just like Ahmed: Woz got arrested for building gadgets in school

By

Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed.
Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed.
Photo: Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News

Ahmed Mohamed can count Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak among his many supporters in the tech world. According to Woz’s most recent Facebook post, he sees a lot of himself in the 14-year-old Texas boy who was arrested for bringing a homemade digital clock to school.

While Ahmed’s teacher mistook his clock for a bomb, Woz says he built a similar gadget when he was in high school — only he actually wanted people to think it was a bomb. Woz even spent a night in juvie for the stunt (where he used the opportunity to teach inmates how to shock guards).

Here’s the story in Woz’s own words:

“The story about the kid arrested for making a clock takes me back to high school in 1967. I built an electronic metronome and placed it in a friend’s locker, along with a tin-foil switch to speed up the ticking when the locker was opened,” recounts Woz.

Woz’s gadget wasn’t nearly as innocent-looking as Ahmed’s, though. To make the device look like a bomb, Woz fashioned what looked like several sticks of dynamite from pieces of scrap metal, attached the metronome to it, then stuffed it in the locker with wires hanging out the door.

“I couldn’t hold my laughter when Principal Bryld told me how he extracted the ‘bomb’, ran out to the football field (from the C building), and dismantled it,” Woz wrote. “I wound up spending a night in ‘juvie’. I did teach other inmates there how they could remove the electric wires from an overhead fan and attach them to the metal bars to shock the guards.”

After spending the night in the juvenile detention center, Woz came back to school the next day and was greeted with applause from his classmates.