Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, visits Indiana | News

Julie Smith-Frazer

Eric Whitaker

EVANSVILLE — Creativity is the foundation of innovation, said Apple Computer co-founder and tech guru Steve “The Woz” Wozniak at a University of Southern Indiana talk event.

Wozniak was part of the USI speaker series hosted at the university by The Romain College of Business.

Wozniak is best known as the “brains” behind Apple Computer Inc., working alongside lifelong friend Steve Jobs to bring personal computers into everyone’s hands.

Briar Curd, a sophomore at USI majoring in finance, stated she was attending the event because it was an interesting opportunity to listen to Steve Wozniak speak, an opportunity others may not have.

Clayton Harker and Alan Cook, both USI engineering students were amongst the crowd for the event. Cook said the importance of being an innovative thinker and an entrepreneur is because that work could one day change the world.

The Woz is what University of Southern Indiana student Connor Keeling says is an icon. Keeling was interested on hearing the thoughts and what the Woz thought of the industry. Business student Fallon Heady hoped to learn more about the industry as well from the man that helped build up and innovative corporation with Steve Jobs.

“He was the brain behind Microsoft”. Bill Gates was the money. Daddy told Bill what to do with the IBM software. The Woz also follows around a band called Little Feet. A band I’m also fond of, so he must be cool,” said attorney Mike Schopmeyer about what he expected to see from Wozniak.

Wozniak is more than just a computer geek that started a billion dollar industry. He is more than what Steve Bridges, VP of Financing administration of USI referred to as an amazing founding father of technology. He is a man of creativity, innovation and overall enjoyment.

According to Wozniak, one of the most important things is making things fun. His formula for life is happiness equals smiles minus frowns. He also believes that number of hours someone works is how good they will get at skills, so he is not all fun and games. He wants to see the world full of innovators. He stated that taking an idea and making it real is the only way to make a difference.

There were no books on computers when Wozniak was beginning to be interested in the idea of ​​building a home computer. To receive the information he needed, Wozniak would go to Stanford’s technical library and request manuals from computer companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP).

As a child, Wozniak would complete extra work for math assignments in school because he simply enjoyed doing so.

“The numbers of hours you work is how you get good at something, that’s where the skills come from,” said Wozniak.

“When we have new technology, they cost a lot of money,” Wozniak said of the typical pattern of tech development. When they cost a lot of money, only big companies and the military can afford them, Wozniak explained. “But I always wanted new technologies to benefit normal humans,” he said.

In order to get computers into homes, he had to re-think how computers were made, make them smaller to fit in a house.

He explained that when he first wanted a personal computer, they were as big as a house and he only lived in an apartment.

Wozniak had to start from scratch.

He said he put in 10,000 hours over the weekends learning and building until he finally met Steve Jobs at university, who recognized the potential of what he was building and they became good friends.

“It’s good to do things that haven’t been done before,” Wozniak said.

Jobs found a business request from Atari for a new video game that would play like the original Pong game but was a one-player game, where the player would bounce the ball from a moving bar to a wall. He told the proposal to Wozniak. The condition was that he had to have it done in four days.

When he heard the proposal, he thought, “It would be the most heartfelt thing in my life to design a game young children would play.”

A hundred chips, a thousand wires and a thousand hours would be needed to make a game of that sophistication. “I was the hottest designer in the world at the time … working for Hewlett Packard and I said I would do it,” Wozniak said, as he had two jobs, working for Hewlett Packard and starting his own Apple computer company.

He didn’t sleep for four days and delivered the game to Atari. What he learned from the experience was how lucid the mind became without sleep.

During his sleep deprived state; he began imaging the practicality of games in color. Soon after, the Apple logo was displayed in color and TVs could support colored computers. “We were way ahead of our time,” Wozniak said. “We solve our own problems rather than relying on others to do it.”

“Future of technology… its hard to see things you can’t see. We are getting to the end. They won’t change that much. It will be a type of evolution of the handhelds, so the question while creating should be ‘Will this product really help me?’ Stated Wozniak.

His beliefs in innovation and helping the world be better have extended over to present projects as he continues to help others achieve their visions. His current project is software that can show space junk. He stated that a lot of our lives depend on space. Some of space has junk flying around that can be damaging to things like satellites.

“The world has been made dirty and now we have dirtied up space as well,” Wozniak said. He plans to invest in space software that will be launching soon so that the planet will benefit once more from someone thinking outside of the box.

For Wozniak, supplying the world with tech has been more than a business proposition. Wozniak has been an advocate for education, and always wanted to be an electrical engineer and a fifth grade teacher, where he could educate and encourage the coming generations.

Wozniak adopted the Los Gatos School District and donated his time and technology to teach students how to use computers for all school subjects. He began writing lessons plans and dedicating seven days a week to education. For Wozniak, the important factor was making it fun for the students, not just the knowledge of how to use the computer.

Wozniak would also teach his students how to take care of the computers and make necessary repairs to them. By taking the class, the students would earn their computers.

Wozniak also put in the time to advocate for two California cities to pass a proposition that would raise property taxes to benefit education in those areas.

Wozniak has had many personal hobbies as well, most of which included the expansion of knowledge for him and others. After being in a plane accident, Wozniak struggled with memory loss for years. As a result he continued his education and went back to school to take psychology courses and to study memory, which was one more thing that made him stand above the rest. Viewers in the audience felt the same.

“We’re all creatives'”. Apple is the industry standard for our profession,” stated Creative Director of Blackstrap Media Samantha Marksberry, who attended the USI talk.

Media creator Jordan Cates and student Nathan Hamilton were in awe that a man of Wozniak’s brilliance and status were visiting the Midwest and a small university like USI. Both men said was an honor to get to hear what he was still doing, even at his age.

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