October 11, 2006
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: iWoz
iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. By Steve Wozniak with Gina Smith, W.W. Norton, 288 Pages, $25.95 Hardcover, September 2006, ISBN 0393061434 I have enjoyed stories about Steve Wozniak for a long time. I remember reading about the blue box which phone phreaks could use to make unlimited free calls anywhere in the world. This was during the Ma Bell era, when ripping her off was cool. Woz and Jobs sold them for $150 each out of their trunks. Then, when that novelty wore off, they created a little company called Apple. This book is Wozs version of how what he is famous for happened, but it is also a story about a smart kid who had amazingly supportive parents and a real love of engineering. He talks about his father and how his father would always answer his questions with in-depth answers and taught him the love of engineering. I so clearly remember him telling me that engineering was the highest level of importance you can reach in the world, that someone who could make electrical devises that do something good for people takes society to a new level. He told me that as an engineer, you can change your world and change the way of life for lots and lots of people.To this day, I still believe engineers are among the key people in the world. It is a sincere book, but also a funny one that reflects Wozs lighter side. In 1962, he tricks Richard Nixon, conspiring with his mother on the joke. She wanted me to meet him and tell himthat I represented the Ham Radio Operators of Serra School, and that our group unanimously supported Richard Nixons election for governor. The joke was, I was the only sixth grade ham operator in the school and probably the whole state. But I did it. I walked up to Nixon and presented the paper, which we literally wrote with a crayon before leaving home. I said I have something for you. Nixon was really gracious, I thought..I ended up on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News for this. Me! The only ham radio operator at Serra School and probably the youngest one in the whole state, representing a club made up of nobody but me, presenting a false certificate like it was real thing. And everyone believed it. Wow! This is a charming book told in straightforward language; a real pleasure to read. The sweet, loving, almost innocent quality of this memoir sets it apart from most business peoples bios.