SCIENTISTS (1950–???); SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
Steve Wozniak isn't the first Steve most people associate with Apple, but without "The Woz," the tech giant—and yes, that includes your iPhone and iPad—wouldn't exist today. Wozniak was 26 years old when he co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976, and though he left the company before its explosion in popularity in a post-iPod world, he's credited with the development of the Apple I and Apple II—the company's first computers and landmarks in personal electronics. Here are more facts about Steve Wozniak.
1. One of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs’s first collaborations was a prank.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs met as teenagers through mutual friend and eventual Apple employee Bill Fernandez. Fernandez was hanging out with Jobs one day when he saw Wozniak, whom he had known since age 5, washing his car outside. Fernandez knew both of his friends were into electronics, so he introduced them thinking they would hit it off. The pair’s love of technology would eventually change the world, but it was their shared affinity for pranks that kicked off their relationship.
Before the graduation ceremony at Homestead High School, Jobs and Wozniak snuck a giant cloth poster onto the roof of the school building. The banner featured a picture of a hand sticking up its middle finger, and it was to be unfurled in front of the crowd of parents watching their kids graduate (Jobs was also graduating that day). While they came close to pulling their prank off, another student found out about it and it was taken down before it was revealed, according to The Atlantic.
2. Steve Wozniak's Apple I computer was rejected by Hewlett-Packard five times.
In 1975, Steve Wozniak began attending meetings at a local Homebrew Computer Club, a group dedicated to engineering new computer hardware and showing it off to other niche enthusiasts. The club helped inspire Woz to try his hand at designing his own piece of hardware, which, according to Inc., combined the input keys of a typewriter with a television screen to act as an output display. Since he was employed at the time by Hewlett-Packard, where he designed the company's line of calculators, Wozniak showed his new machine to his employers to gauge their interest.
But this was the mid-'70s, and the thought of an average person owning a computer just wasn't on many companies' radar. Wozniak's computer was rejected by HP five times, but he didn't give up—eventually, Jobs convinced Wozniak they could sell it on their own, leading to the formation of the Apple Computer Company in 1976. The computer was now known as the Apple I, and the initial run of 200 was assembled by hand and each cost around $250 to build, according to Wozniak. Each computer then sold at retail for $666.66 (Wozniak liked repeating digits). Anyone who bought it needed to supply their own case, keyboard, and monitor.
A year later, Wozniak improved upon the design, making it easier for consumers to use the computer right out of the box. That, of course, became the Apple II.
3. Steve Wozniak’s net worth is $100 million.
In 1985, Steve Wozniak stepped down from his role at Apple to found CL 9, the tech company responsible for the first universal remote control. While he’s famous for being the co-founder who left Apple, he’s still technically an employee there. He has no creative control, but in a podcast interview, he said he receives "$50 a week or something" from the company after money is taken out for savings and taxes. His decision to stay on the payroll for so many years was a symbolic gesture of loyalty to the company he helped create. That's obviously a miniscule percentage of his total fortune: In 2017, Steve Wozniak’s net worth was estimated at roughly $100 million.
4. Steve Wozniak's wife Janet Hill was an Apple employee.
Apple has also played a role in Steve Wozniak's personal life. In 2008, he married Apple education development executive Janet Hill. It was his fourth marriage following his divorces from Alice Robertson, Candice Clark, and Suzanne Mulkern. Today Steve Wozniak lives with his spouse in Los Gatos, California.
5. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs remained friendly until Jobs's death.
Though they parted ways professionally, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs remained on good terms. Wozniak told the BBC that he and Jobs “were friends to the end.” In a Reddit AMA, he said that the door at Apple was always open for him even after he left the company in 1985. “I could come by, Steve Jobs would always make sure I had a badge that could get me into any building,” he said. “I didn't use it much, but I can go there. The only trouble is I'll get mobbed.”
6. Steve Wozniak is a huge Star Trek fan.
According to Wozniak, his lifelong love of Star Trek helped shape the person he is today. In addition to strengthening his moral code, the sci-fi show also stoked his passion for technology. “I’m not sure I would’ve had the inspiration that I had to ever start Apple, and do all these technical things, and I don’t think I would’ve had the meaning in my life if I hadn’t gone to Star Trek conventions when I was young,” he told HuffPost. “[These] were such important things to me.”
Memorable Steve Wozniak Quotes
- "I didn’t want to be near money, because it could corrupt your values."
- "If you can convince somebody to want something inside for their own personal reason, they really see something that they want to do, and they really feel it in their heart—that’s when you get a lot more done."
- "Our first computers were not born out of greed or ego, but in the revolutionary spirit of helping common people rise above the most powerful institutions."
- "Soldering things together, putting the chips together, designing them, drawing them on drafting tables—it was so much a passion in my life. And to this day, I'll go stay at the bottom of the org chart being an engineer, because that's where I want to be."