Although I am not addicted to retrocomputing, I quite enjoy reading about Good Ol’ Days when Real Men where up to forge the computer revolution. Given this premise it was rather impossible to skip over the Amazon suggestion when I received it. iWoz is the story of Wozniak, the engineer among the two Steves that founded Apple back in the seventies, told by Steve Wozniak himself (or at least edited as if it sounds so).
The book is a pretty smooth reading up to the point where he left Apple, but I think it’s just me loosing somewhat interest in the narrated matter.
I found very emotionally touching the first chapters where Steve writes about his infancy and his father. Maybe it is because I had lot of thoughts recently on being father, but I found this figure of father-engineer really fascinating – never forcing his kid on learning something, but let his strong passion for technology and science “infect” his child. Also noteworthy the strong ethic component of this father about nearly everything. I’d like to be a father like this.
Also the book proves that some kind of chances could have occurred just there. I think nowhere in the world (and likely in time) a group of children could receive as gift from a telephone technician some hundreds meters of telephone wire. Also the home computer revolution had to start right there – all the players were there and they much knew each others.
In some parts of the book I read some naïvety. E.g. the Atari affair. Jobs always did the marking and commercial part of their projects. So they got this deal to build a videogame prototype for Atari. In change of one week effort Wozniak got few hundred dollars, because Jobs told him he got the same. Only later Wozniak discovered that Atari paid several thousand dollars for the project (and obviously Jobs kept the difference). This didn’t made Wozniak upset with his partner. He candidly states that Jobs needed money at that time and later (after Apple IPO) money ceased to become an issue.
Another aspect of the book I found somewhat uneasy with is that Wozniak claims to be a first in many key technologies of the emergent home computing industry – the first computer with video output and keyboard built in, the first color computer, the first computer with audio, the first microprocessor based videogame, remarked more or less with “something unheard of at those times”. I don’t want to take off anything from the pioneering work of Wozniak, but most of those technologies where really about to spring to life in those years and, there were other companies providing the same stuff in different degrees of completion.
Despite of these two aspects I am pretty satisfied of this reading and I recommend if you are interested in the topic.