I first heard Steve Wozniak speak when I was at Berkeley and he gave the graduation speech. I was invited along, even though I wasn’t graduating, and I remember enjoying the speech, even if I don’t recall a word of it now. Still, because of the experience of hearing him live and actually seeing him in person, I’ve always had this keen interest in his life.
I’ve only entered a few giveaways on Goodreads, but I was pleasantly surprised that I actually won iWoz, an autobiography of Steve Wozniak. It’s a fun read and the one thing that is palpably clear is his passion for engineering. It oozes with every word, every detail, and his genius is obvious. Wozniak is not just a visionary, but a fun-spirited man with a big-heart. I loved reading about how the Apple I and II came together, and I also enjoyed reading about how he put the US Festival together. His words are inspiring for everyone, particularly engineers.
“Why do I say engineers are like artists? Engineers often strive to do things more perfectly than even they think is possible. Every tiny part or line of code has to have a reason, and the approach has to be direct, short, and fast.”
One of his biggest pieces of advice, especially if you want to be creative, is not to work in a corporate setting.
“If you want to invent things that can change the world, and not just work at a corporation working on other people’s inventions, you’re going to have to work on your own projects.”
There’s funny anecdotes about his early life, especially his pranks, which, I would think these days, would probably get you arrested, ha ha. If you are seeking gossip, confessional, dishing out bad stuff about the companies he’d worked for and the people around him, you will be disappointed. He’s not out to settle scores, but instead, share his experiences and his life. Overall, he is very fair and just to everyone and corrects a lot of the wrong information out there. For example, Wozniak is still an Apple employee who gets paid the least amount a full time engineer can make annually (120K which is a pretty chunk of change), which goes contrary to articles I’d read about him leaving on bad terms. I thought this quote was one of his more poignant:
“You know, it’s strange, but right around the time I started working on what later became the Apple I board, this idea popped into my mind about two guys who die on the same day. One guy is really successful, and he’s spending all his time running companies, managing them, making sure they are profitable, and making sales goals all the time. And the other guy, all he does is lounge around, doesn’t have much money, really likes to tell jokes and follow gadgets and technology and other things he finds interesting in the world, and he just spends his life laughing. In my head, the guy who’d rather laugh than control things is going to be the one who has the happier life.”
That pretty much sums up the feel and attitude of his whole autobiography as he is a man who has lived and still lives his philosophy by one simple word: laughter.