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David Pogue

David Pogue

Personal technology columnist for The New York Times

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Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak

The inventor of the Apple II computer and co-founder of Apple...

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Bob Levitus

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Steve Wozniak on Mac

Steve Wozniak on Mac

Steve Wozniak has many nicknames. To some, he’s known as “The Woz” for his lovable jokester character. To others, he’s known as “the other Steve,” co-founder with Steve Jobs of Apple Computers and creator of the Apple II computer, recognized as the first popular and successful personal computer—predecessor to the Mac you use today.

His book, iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It, details the many personal life changes he has endured, from surviving a near-fatal plane accident to giving up his day job to become a school teacher. Wozniak continues to speak on behalf of Apple and is constantly working to create new technologies. His future plans include starting his own chip-making company called Jazz Technologies and driving to the South Pole in an electric Hummer. Wozniak offered some insights to helping you make the switch from a PC to a Mac.

From your perspective, is the argument between Mac and Windows users reasonable?

I don’t think it has ever been a fight. I’ve been around a lot of people who think there is just one way to do things. It’s like bigotry to me. You don’t want to downplay people who aren’t doing what you are. You may be certain that your way is right and best, but it may not be. There are lots of different types of people in the world, and what’s right for them may be different than what is right for me. It’s difficult to deal with a wide random world. I don’t push one product or another. However, I will point out good characteristics of Mac or a PC depending on the situation.

What is the most important thing for people to do in the first 30 days of switching to a Mac?

It’s helpful if you have a human being who can support you, especially if the human being has education skills and can teach well. If you buy the computer in the Apple store, get the ProCare warranty, which comes with personalized training. They show you everything about how the computer works. You can learn even more than I, Steve Wozniak, know about the Mac.

What is your favorite trick or tip for a new Mac user in the first month of the switch?

One of the nice things about the Mac is the iLife applications. They are so nice to use for music, photos, obviously online music purchases and video purchases. They work so well with each other. If you walk in to the program blindly, you will discover how they work easily. One of my favorite tricks is: if I have a few photos in iPhoto, I can click one button if I have a .mac account and, using iWeb, instantly create a web page on my .mac internet server. I don’t have to think about uploading to a web site like Shutterfly. I use the quick buttons and upload and select out of a list. These programs feel much more human.

Your book calls you a “cult icon.” Should people be afraid of becoming part of this “cult” if they switch to the Mac?

The “cult-ness” comes from being special. When using a Mac, you’re making a choice to exist outside the mainframe. Those who are drawn to Macs are the types who want to be independent and not feel they are part of the masses. I don’t like that word “cult”—it makes me think of Jim Jones and the people who rode that comet. But, you do become part of a special group. Maybe in some cities, some people don’t use Macs at all. If you are the sole user, that makes you feel more special. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, every time Apple’s market share dropped, I felt more special. The ones who stuck in there and stayed with Apple as their supplier were the most hardcore, dedicated fans. That is the core of the passion.

How much were you thinking about your “user” when you made the Apple II, the Mac’s predecessor? Was there a philosophy behind this?

Before the Apple II was created, Jef Raskin [a human-computer interface expert] came and spoke with us. He said you can put extra work into developing a technology and make it easier for people to use rather than harder. Our computer was easy to use even in those days. We made good training manuals for people. We supplied a lot of documentation so that the buyer can quickly understand how to use the computer.

Why are some people afraid of this change?

People are scared because the computers are so different. What are you going to do—take 10 to 15 years getting used to one platform, then in one day, decide to drop those skills and spend five years getting proficient again on a different system? Yeah, it’s a scare. People are thinking, “I may not know how to do all these skills, and now I have to figure them out and remember them in my head.” That’s scary.

What can people do to be successful in the first 30 days of this change?

Just do it—take the bad with the good. Jump in. That’s my way of learning things. Change is soft and minimal these days—the programs are almost all the same. Now you can go to another email program and find it works similarly to what you left. Nowadays, you can walk up to any operating system and use it. It’s different from old days with big computers. Think of it as walking up to any kind of coffee maker and making coffee.

What do you think will be the next major tech change that average people will be battling over?

We are moving towards questioning where our television is coming from. A lot of people don’t have to think—it just comes from the cable company. But there are a lot of choices coming right now—satellite TV, analog broadcasting, cable and internet streaming. Will scheduled television as we know it start to go away?


What’s the belief you personally go to during times of change?

Change is constant and it’s stressful. In technology, we have all these “connecting” things—we have to keep up with the gadgets and technology and it changes so fast.

The best thing about change is…

…it’s like an inner sense we’re born with that there’s something better ahead, something that would amount to happiness. It’s about trying to be a better person, be like a super man.

What is the best change you have ever made?

Probably building the personal computer was the best change. And having children.

For more information on Steve Wozniak, visit www.woz.org.

Posted: 9/25/07