Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple.
They both spearheaded the personal computer revolution.
Their work in the 70s and 80s gave birth to modern technology.
Yet, it was always only Jobs in the limelight while Woz remained in the shadows.
The two great inventors may share a name but the same can’t be said about credit.
When people think of Apple, only Jobs comes to mind. Never mind Wozniak.
In fact, the impact of Jobs’ influence on Apple still shows, even after his death.
Which is strange considering Wozniak was the engineering mastermind behind the company’s success.
It was Wozniak who single-handedly built the 1976 Apple I, the computer that launched Apple.
He also designed the next machine, and the one after that.
These computers were amongst the first to be sold to the masses – a breakthrough feat for the duo and the beginning of their careers.
Yet, Steve Jobs was celebrated much more than his business partner.
Maybe it was Jobs’ unfaltering charisma or domineering presence that did the trick.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were poles apart as people.
Jobs was a drug-popping, street smart but confused college dropout who traveled across the world and turned Buddhist to find stability. He was known to be assertive, egoistical and narcissistic.
Wozniak, on the other hand, was totally calm and focused. He was shy, composed and a quiet worker.
But there were striking similarities too.
Both were tech prodigies, unconventional adolescents and college dropouts with immigrant parents.
One could call it a perfect balance, except maybe it wasn’t.
Still, the two innovators created one of the world’s biggest enterprises together.
Yet, only one was hailed as a hero.
How much have we heard of Steve Wozniak in popular news? How many of us know about his real role in Apple?
Well, that would be a fairly embarrassing ratio as compared to Jobs’ overbearing popularity.
The thing is, Steve Jobs, along with his innovative, industry-changing ideas, became the primary face and voice of Apple.
It was a job he assigned to himself. He seemed to be the perfect ‘spokesman’ for the budding brand, the ambitious frontrunner.
He made the grand launches, orchestrated every move and held the reigns of their brainchild.
In the middle of all this hype, Jobs’ misdeeds and manipulations were sidetracked. They remain forgotten unless one buys a book on the subject and reads it.
When Wozniak built his own version of the classic game, Pong, Jobs took it to the video game manufacturer, Atari, and accepted a job as a technician because they thought he had made it. Jobs never corrected them.
Following this, Jobs pretty much robbed Wozniak of his money.
Jobs was asked to create a special circuit board by Atari. As he didn’t know much about circuit design, he approached Woz. He promised him half the fee if he helped. Amazingly, Wozniak managed to do the needful and his unbelievable work won the respect of even Atari engineers.
Atari handed over $5,000 to Jobs. He went and told Wozniak that the company gave him only $700. They then split the amount into $350 each. It wasn’t until 10 years later that Woz learned the truth.
That was really shady behaviour, a valid breach of trust.
See, this isn’t about any rivalry. The two men weren’t competitors; they were partners. Equal partners. Or they should’ve been.
Yet, only one side of the coin was revealed.
Woz was a much greater visionary than Jobs, in terms of technicality.
In the movie Steve Jobs, Woz’s character (Seth Rogen) says in the movie,
“You’re not an engineer. You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail. I built the circuit board. The graphical interface was stolen. So how come, 10 times in a day, I read Steve Jobs is a genius. What do you do?”
Many experts around the world seem to share the same opinion.
Anyhow, Wozniak, fondly known as Woz or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was blessed with a brilliant brain.
He invented the Blue Box; a game-altering digital device that can make free long-distance phone calls.
He made a one-of-a-kind scientific calculator at HP when he was in his teens.
He started a company called CL 9 which developed the first universal remote control.
He has been awarded a total of 11 Honorary Doctor of Engineering degrees.
He pointed out major loopholes that Jobs failed to spot, changing the future course of Apple.
Then why is he repeatedly called the “Second Steve”?
Steve Wozniak is tremendously more than that. He is genuinely different.
Even back in the day, he was too cool for the commercial game. He didn’t give a damn about a so-called status. He made his own rules.
He quit Apple when he felt it was losing its very ideologies and sold off most of his shares. Then he went back to college and got his degree. He undertook many new ventures later.
He must have been quite gutsy to do that.
Talking about courage, Woz met with an accident when his plane crashed on the runway. He was flying it. He sustained severe head injuries and got amnesia but got his memory back by playing Apple II computer games.
How crazy is that?
The more you find out about the man, the more interesting he gets.
While Jobs was obsessively committed to Apple till the very last phase of his life, Woz likes to make time for other things.
Looks like Woz doesn’t take stuff too seriously. He’s a good, old jolly fellow.
He definitely knows how to enjoy himself.
He made a guest appearance in season 4 of The Big Bang Theory. He participated in Dancing With The Stars (probably the only challenge he lost). He takes classes in school and teaches computer technology to little kids. He loves polo.
Woz and Jobs might have had issues ahead in their partnership but their relationship was smooth till the end. Woz gives Jobs due credit for his unique work ethic and other inventive methodologies to this day.
His journey is in no way any less inspiring than Jobs’. Which is why it deserves the applause it didn’t quite receive.
He shouldn’t be the underdog. He built Apple from scratch with his bare hands.
His vision changed the world. And the world should know that.