An Interview with Steve 
Wozniak

Leyba: If you could summarize your life up to now with one word, what would it be and why?
Wozniak: Lucky. Every dream I've ever had in life has come true ten times over. I am just the luckiest person in the world for everything I have. My wife, my Apple successes, from having kept true to some very strong and good values that I developed in myself when I was young
Wolfson: Can you explain some of those values?
Wozniak: Although I never went to church, I was influenced occasionally by stories about Christian things; values like the idea of turning the other cheek. If somebody does something bad to you, you don't fight back. You're still good to them and treat them with love from your heart. Values of caring about the communities I grew up in, the schools that I went to, the cities I lived in; putting proper value on that. Values of respecting other people; not being a criminal or stealing.

I was heavily influenced by individualistic thinking in literature and along the lines of Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

He would talk about things like civil disobedience and there being kind of ways to justify even things that are considered wrong with there's a payment that you pay; there's a price that you pay for it.

It was a little bit deeper thinking. Get's a lot further in some of the issues in life than just wanting to take an immediate stand. There are so many values; I can't think of them all right now, but all my I life, I can think back to incidences when I came up with, you know, this is the way I should treat a situation or a person. And still, those beliefs are still very strong in me.


Henry David Thoreau

Even if you do something that others might consider wrong, you should at least be willing to talk about it and tell your parents what you're doing because you believe it's right. You shouldn't have two people in your head saying two different things because you'll wind up psychologically disturbed and neurotic.


"When you die, you're going to be judged on not only how you lived, but the main judgment of your life was, how happy were you? How many times did you smile?"

I don't like to solve things with confrontation; I don't like to take strong opinions. When you die, the main judgment of your life is going to be: How happy were you? How many times did you smile? At jokes? Or at anything?

Compared to how many times did you frown? I see a lot of people that get so involved with political issues of the day. They set themselves up in advance for being upset if it goes this way or that way. They are constantly complaining. And so I basically am non-political.

I don't participate in taking strong sides on issues. I also don't like it because it leads to arguments between people.

Leyba: Do you vote?
Wozniak: Pretty much, no. I did vote a couple of times. Strangely enough, I was even a delegate to a national convention. But not because I have some strong opinions It's just because I was well known and got a phone call and somebody said, 'Would you like to be a delegate?'    Well, who wouldn't?

"I did a lot of stuff for peace and understanding between the U.S. and the USSR back before the coup and all that. During "peristroika" times. None of that was ever known; nobody wants to report that."
Wolfson: Yet, you are involved in community things. You seem to have a sense of that.
Wozniak: I try to keep it low key. The communities, the schools that I went to, I've always been strongly supportive of. From elementary schools to colleges, in a lot of ways. And the communities I've lived in, including San Jose.

I used to really appreciate San Jose becoming a more "grand" city; a more beautiful city. I currently live in Los Gatos and everything I do here is very private, but it's huge in the schools here. Schools and computers.

I did a lot of stuff for peace and understanding between the U.S. and the USSR back before the coup and all that. During "peristroika" times. None of that was ever known; nobody wants to report that. The papers don't care about it because people don't care about it.

Wolfson: Here's your uncensored chance to explain.
Wozniak: I established schools and computer schools over there. I contributed to a lot of peace groups and to groups that sent 'normal' Americans to the USSR to meet people, live in their houses and travel and vice versa. I believe that once you understand the people, you find out that all these things you've been taught your whole life about something to fear really isn't there.

I sponsored the first concert in a stadium in the USSR that was ever permitted, with US and Russian rock groups on the same stage. I learned a lot of strange things, like you can't buy a ticket to a concert there.You can only get it from somebody with party connections.

When we went to the Soviet Union, we weren't allowed to travel freely. We had to be in a certain city on a certain date and we had to get permission from the government to go to a different city. That was such a strange way of life.


I'd like to be remembered for having designed some really great computers that helped inspire this whole computer revolution.

And then I found out that when a Soviet comes to the United States, they could not travel either. I thought that we should be showing the good side; showing the good way, the good side of the force. And they would see it. And see what we have. And no, they were just as restricted when they came because the State Department plays a tit-for-tat game.

I'd say my contributions to those efforts were over a million dollars. One year, I paid for, I think, 400 Soviets to travel to the US. And these were just normal people. They weren't the high level people who got privileges and pass stays. It was a group that only took like the teachers, not the principals.

Wolfson: Of all these things you've done in your life, what would you most like to be remembered for?
Wozniak: Being a good father. And, I'd like to be remembered for having been a good person who had business success who didn't step on people's toes and who didn't run over them and treat them badly and get into arguments over what's right and wrong. And I'd like to be remembered for having designed some really great computers that helped inspire this whole computer revolution.

Leyba: What do you see as the future of technology?
Wozniak: I think that the hardware but the hardware of computers has just increased so dramatically in the sense that the price for how much for how much computer you get has gone down so much.

Basically, for the same price, you just get one thousand times as much computer as when we started. No question. The software has increased in the size of programs and their complexity, but it really hasn't increased in how well they deal with human beings.


"I give photographers credit for the whole computer revolution."
I think that there will come a time when we stop making more on a piece of silicon. Every year, we're able to etch lines a little bit thinner on a piece of silicon due to high level physics and the like. Make the lines on silicon a little bit thinner and the next piece of silicon will have four times as many parts on it for the same price to manufacture.

You look at a computer board these days and there's a thousand times as much computer in it, but it has the same number of chips. And that's what really has spurred the computers to become much more important than they were even when we developed the first Apples.

But eventually, we'll reach some physical limits. We won't be able to make those lines any smaller; etch the traces on silicon any smaller than we do. And all of a sudden, computers are going to wind up being about the same amount of computer as the year before for the same price. And it's going to finally stabilize. It won't be, 'sell the newest hardware, sell the newest hardware, sell the newest hardware.' It will be more like automobiles where it's a lot less stressful in the hardware areas, and that's when we can go back and make the software obey something like a Ten Commandments of Software, which we don't have yet. Starting with things like: computers shall not crash; if programs crash, they shall not crash the operating system; error messages shall be understandable; error messages should guess what you are trying to do and should explain the proper way to do it; should ask you if you want it done for you.

The more a computer becomes like a real person, the more we like it. When a computer speaks in a nice voice and the more human it sounds, the more intriguing it is to a child learning. The more it seems like a mechanical device with a bunch of little squares and click-on boxes and text, the less it is humanistic.

You should be able to think with your head and just sort of look and not knowing very much, spot the correct ways to get the things done you want to. We're going through some big revolutions in recent years called "object-oriented programming" and we're moving away from mouse and menus (M & M) towards drag and drop, where you can drag a file to a printer icon and it prints on that printer.