Apple Guru Dares Solution

By Chris Gonsalves  |  Posted 2007-09-24 Print this article Print

Providers to Dream"> Wozniak shared his career false starts and photo finishes, both professional and personal. Among them:

Homecooking is better. Wozniak said he almost never saw a tech product that he wouldnt rather build than buy. Early VCRs, Pong video games, even ham radio constantly inspired him to tinker, dismantle and create. "Everything I did back then was a direct line toward Apple," he said. "I was always at this stuff, always interested ... and I decided very early in my life that I would rather have a computer than a house."
Innovation doesnt go by the book. "I had designed all these computers by myself in high school. I taught myself. So Hewlett-Packard brought me in for an interview and offered me a job as an engineer even without a college degree. Thats the way life should be." Wozniak added that he gravitated toward HPs engineering-centric view of the world because, "I never wanted to be a manager. I had become pretty apolitical in the Vietnam era. I didnt want to deal with anything other than engineering. I really just wanted to work for HP for the rest of my life."
Necessity is still a mother. Wozniak was once coerced into designing a prototype of the computer game "Breakout" in four days to satisfy a sale Jobs had made. "I ended up coming down with mononucleosis ... but I got it done." Years later, with little software experience, he spent four months developing a Basic language during the Apple garage period. "If youre motivated to do something, you just do it." Wozniak received a standing ovation from the ConnectWise crowd even before the question-and-answer session. As a sort of encore, Wozniak touched on the future of technology as seen by a self-confessed gadget addict and chronic early adopter. "Improvements in chip-based memory that can obviate the need for hard disk drives, that would be a huge change," he said. "A lot the display materials are getting really flexible, so we might have displays everywhere like wallpaper. Id like to see a display in the shape of a globe for Google Earth. "I dont think we have the Apple II of robots yet," he said. "The robotic parts are available, but we need to use artificial intelligence and get some higher level software to allow people to program robots at home. Id like to program a robot to wash my car. I dont care if it takes 12 hours to do it, centimeter by centimeter out there in the driveway, I just want it done." And he doesnt shy from technologys controversies. For one thing, he bristles at the suggestion that the open-source movement includes kindred spirits to Apples founders. "Theres always a group of people that wants to undo the forces of industry that have given us so much in terms of wealth, and theres always people who want things to be free," Wozniak said. "The open-source movement starts with those sort of people. But it still has such good points that have nothing to do with whether its free or not. The idea of developing something and then making your solution known. Spread the information so the world can grow from it." Times may have changed in IT, but Wozniaks experiences still strike a familiar chord for IT professionals who relate to his passion for technology and his lifelong devotion to computers and everything that makes them tick. "His clearest message is that if you follow what youre passionate about, you can succeed," said Nabil Sheikh, general manager of Omega PC Technology, in Glen Burnie, Md. "I think all of us in this business are always working to make our solutions better. Its dynamic. And it depends on many people picking up different parts of every project. They all need to hear [Wozniaks] message. Its encouraging to hear you dont have to invent something to still be improving and succeeding." Arnie Bellini, CEO of ConnectWise, said that he has gotten to know Wozniak, and admires that he is passionate about whatever he does. "Thats how Apple became Apple. For all of the folks gathered here, the bottom line is that Wozniak is us," Bellini said. "His story resonates because hes a technologist who followed his love and, by accident, found himself in business. And he did it with no formal business training. That describes every solution provider out there." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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