= WOZ CONFERENCE Pt.1 =
Members of MAUG, the Apple users group over on Compuserve, recently enjoyed
an unprecedented treat: a live, online conference with Steve Wozniak, co- founder of Apple Computer, Inc. During the two-hour-plus conference, arranged by MAUG Sysop Neil Shapiro, Wozniak fielded a wide range of questions, from how Apple got started to the company's current prospects and its plans for the future. He also answered specific questions on the e, /, Lisa and Macin- tosh machines, provided lively opinions on Commodore, IBM and Franklin, and offered his personal view on the future of computers in education.
What follows is a refined version of the conference transcript. The ques-
tions and answers have been edited slightly for clarity and rearranged accord- ing to topic. The conference took place on Sunday evening, Oct. 16, 1983.
PETE KAPPESSER: When you created the Apple II, did you have any idea it
would turn out to be so popular? At what point did you realize you had a hit on your hands?
WOZNIAK: The Apple II was not built to be a product for sale. It looked
like the best thing available in 1976. The first low-cost computer ever with color, hi-res graphics, Basic in ROM, plastic case, switching power supply, dynamic memories, paddles, speaker, cassette, etc., all STANDARD.
We needed $250,000 to build a thousand Apples -- where do you get that kind
of money when you're a couple of kids with no business experience? We sought venture money and Mike Markkula agreed to help us write a business plan. He realized we were onto something that happens once a decade: a huge market expanding out of nothing. He joined us as an equal partner and loaned $250,000. He told me I had to quit Hewlett-Packard and go 100% Apple. HP is a good company and it's hard to leave any company for anything when you believe it's good to its employees. I said "NO" on my ultimatum day and we were not going to do Apple. Steve Jobs was in tears and got relatives and friends of mine to call me at work and tell me why I should start Apple. finally I realized I could have a great time doing the one important thing in my life - - design computers for myself and start the company to make money, and in my head they didn't have to be dependent. So I turned around. Markkula decided that he and Jobs had better have 52% of Apple combined. I realize now that they were probably afraid I was a little unpredictable. A true story.
ADAM McCRANIE: Why did you use the 6502 microprocessor in your design?
WOZNIAK: In 1975 an 8080 microprocessor cost $370 and you could only get it
from a distributor set up to deal with companies, not individual computer enthusiasts. The 6502 was introduced at Wescon with a unique marketing approach (thanks, Chuck Peddle) and was sold over the counter (like register chips at the local surplus stores) for $20. I bought mine from Chuck and his wife themselves. I couldn't afford more. The other chips for the Apple I, I could get for free since I worked at HP and needed only supervisor approval due to a great policy there. Since it was a project to show off at the local computer club, I didn't have to convince a marketing department that the decision made sense – in product terms it didn't. But I had no idea we would start a company.
Chuck Peddle went to Commodore, did the PET computer (and considered buying
the Apple II design but they didn't offer us much money), later worked at Apple as engineering manager (until Tom Whitney and the Apple /), and is currently president of Victor (doubtful future) and working with the same designers who have followed him throughout his career. I find him interesting. Note that the 6502 was introduced at $20 over the counter in the SF Bay area. That's where Apple, Commodore, Atari and a couple of other 6502-based products came from! [ Note: Richard G. Couch, formerly of Xerox, became president of Victor in August 1983. — Ed.] MIKE COHEN: When you designed DOS, why did you use an I/0 intercept rather than the "&" hook, which would probably be neater and more elegant? WOZNIAK: In 1978 the DOS was written. At that time we had the first ROM Basic ever and only PET and TRS-80 had joined us. We did the DOS in four months, stretching to six, and did not have time to revise the Integer ROMs (or even to recognize the "&" option). We had to make DOS work with existing ROMs. Fortunately they had the memory switch for input and output or there would have been no way at all without waiting another year (?) for language upgrades. We only had about 40 employees then. We barely did some acceptable things at all by the seat of our pants. Now that we are so professional and wealthy, we would have delayed the DOS a year and never been the success we became. In fact, had we had money from day one, all the things we made possible, including our success, would have been done wrong. ROGER KAPLAN: Is the atmosphere at Apple as "homey" as it used to be, or is it becoming a monolith like IBM? WOZNIAK: Apple is more of what it began as than any other large, successful computer company, but is well-managed with greater structure. BLAKE EDWARDS: Can you comment on Apple's stock? What will the earnings report be like? WOZNIAK: Apple's stock, even when it went down, was twice the year before, just after the most successful quarter (gross) ever. The company could not be healthier, with over $100 million in the bank (no debt), sales of the e in great shape, and great developments on the way. I'm not a finance man, but I have Apple stock on margin, well above what I own!
KEVIN KRELL: Has the major r&d expense for newer introductions already been
WOZNIAK: Yes. R&D dollars at Apple never stop. In this business you can
only see about a year ahead anyway (if you're inside), so I can't comment too much on any direction unless heavy R&D dollars are being spent. The large development dollars spent are a result of the fact that great products in xisting directions can be calculated on paper – roughly how much they'll sell – then any large company does the finest job it can, thus raising the cost of entry to anyone who can also see exactly what product will sell. That reasoning doesn't include new, unforeseen, creative directions. It's rare for a successful company like Apple to do something so revolutionary and great as the Macintosh.
FRED BLEND: What is Apple doing about improving the knowledge of sales
people in computer stores?
WOZNIAK: Apple has always been concerned about the situation, but can do
little to control it. In the end, all aspects of our business are directed by the wants of the consumer. Consumers' needs will dictate TO THE STORES what support is needed to sell product. Apple is the last in the chain (the most indirect) to be affected.
STEVE ARRANTS: Can you comment on the Apple/Franklin case?
WOZNIAK: You can always tell who's wrong if they try to deceive you.
Franklin claimed 'compatibility' at first and we all said "of course they
should be able to, who does Apple think it is?" At school, I called my wife and said, "Great, at last someone came out with another product for this market. Let's get one." A couple of weeks later I discovered they had copied the circuit, leaving every single chip in the same place on their board as we did on ours.
I believe they will lose the copyright and patent issues and be put out of
business by Apple, but some other settlement may come out. It should be a significant financial settlement in Apple's favor, even if it is a bad debt and uncollectable.
Programs belong to who wrote them (even op - sys code and the like) and have
value. You can't take another's work, 'Xerox' it and sell it. I found out it only takes two people to start a company – a Xerox operator and a lawyer!
RON BERNSTEIN: Having recently purchased a //e, I became curious when I
noticed that it uses a 6502B processor. I understand the 6502B can run faster than the plain old 6502 used in previous models, but of course it must (and does) run at the same old 1.023 MHz to remain compatible with Apple II software. Why is the 6502B used? Is there a faster Apple hidden in the e? WOZNIAK: The 6502B was available with no cost penalty; all the ones off the line ran that fast. The e doesn't use the extra speed.
However, I am personally performance-minded. minded. Most of my systems use the
Saturn Accelerator (formerly Booster) card. My first direction upon return- ing to Apple was to build the equivalent of built-in speed-up into some future product. It just makes sense with current technology. Of course, Apple will never build a -based machine which won't run existing cards and software, as far as we can determine. The speed-up task is not an easy one . Brand-new machines like Mac can be designed fast from day one. In the e line, we have to be compatible with every special address and every speed consideration as well as provide higher speed processing/addressing modes.
MARC APFELSTADT: Where is the software to take advantage of the extra 64K in
my e extended 80-column card? WOZNIAK: Applications programmers can utilize and manage the memor7-banking soft-switches themselves. I promise an alternative solution soon (6 months?) for direct addressing of 24 -bit bit address. HARRY CONOVER: Please tell us about the e running in LISA-emulation mode. is this a reality? If so, when?
WOZNIAK: I believe strongly in the advantages of the LISA/Mac
user-interface and see it as a reasonable goal for future e software, based on double hi-res graphics and possibly clever software or a faster processor (a la Accelerator). BERNIE BERNSTEIN: Will there ever be a new version of Applesoft? WOZNIAK: Believe it or not, we did advanced Business Basic for the II first. Once it was near completion, the programmers were directed to do it first on the / and they were initially very upset. I doubt anyone has ever tried to resurrect it inside.
SHAWN GOODIN: Let's say I buy a //e tomorrow. Would it be upgradeable as
new features are announced (enhanced e?), or would I need a new machine to upgrade? WOZNIAK: Look at the past. The e "replaced" the II+ but was so compatible that all 64K software coming out which would work on the II+ would also work on the e. Now that e 128K software is appearing (e.g. Word Juggler), the II+ can't run it. In that case an upgrade card would have made a lot of sense, but Apple forgot about the existing owners. Almost everyone involved in such thinking at Apple either doesn't own a computer or has a / on their desk, not a II+. In the future, upgrade boards may be more difficult, if not impossible, but owners of the prior product in a line being expanded should be thought of more. ALAN BIENER: How does the Apple compare, dollar for dollar, with the Commodore 64? WOZNIAK: The C64 is a modern price/performance leader, and a great deal of entertaining software will be written for it. Jack Tremiel runs Commodore and he NEVER lets a product last for more than about a year, so don't expect continuing support. (Expect a "new" Commodore.) DOUGLAS DEAN: Would you comment on the IBM Peanut? WOZNIAK: Now that the documentation is in dealers' hands, it is clear that the Peanut is not the revolutionary price/performance product we had in our heads before we knew. The price for the useful (hacker's machine, minus slots) is too great. Until a lot of good software exists, it's not the major home/education competition we were expecting. Remember what happened to Apple with the /. A great product got a bad start and the psychological effect of "bad impressions" hung over us years later. The Peanut is a risky product. For example, if the disk drives have a bad reliability problem, then the dealers will have a lot of non-technical computer purchaserl., expecting a hello f a lot from those three initials. I know that many dealers must be considering whether or not they intend to carry the Peanut. It makes forthcoming Apple products look EXTREMELY good. Interesting times in this business. By the way, I credit Peanut with a lot of the drop in Apple's stock price, but e sales worldwide are holding, and now rising.
JEFFREY KRAMER: Can you tell us about the Macintosh?
WOZNIAK: Just go to your local store and look at LISA. Then imagine
slightly less hardware and memory, but advantage taken to make it faster and better with fewer resources. (Sound familiar, e world?) Mouse, no color, no slots, finest software (Basic and Pascal are finest ever done, too). ROGER KAPLAN: Will the Macintosh be a business machine or a personal? WOZNIAK: Initially, Mac won't replace the IBM PC as a small business machine (memory, mass storage, slot capability limits). It is intended to be a more finished product for the bulk of the personal market, by assuming which peripherals and features users would want and supplying them at lower cost than if they had slots to make their own choices. JEFFREY KRAMER: Will the Macintosh use PRODOS? WOZNIAK: No, Mac will use its own operating system which was developed to handle the user-interface of LISA more directly with better performance. Such good software has been written for Mac (128K bytes in ROM) that it will be transferred to LISA soon! MARC BAIME: What will the cost be like on Macintosh and PRODOS? WOZNIAK: I believe that, before long, PRODOS will be shipped with all e's and DOS 3.3 will be available as a separate package for around $50. Mac, I really don't know, around average personal-computer price with normal peripherals (128K, floppy, b/w monitor , dot-matrix printer).
ANITA PEOPLES: Can I get a Macintosh for Christmas?
WOZNIAK: Sorry, but our shareholders' meeting is in January, and we intro-
duced LISA at the last one, so that's my hunch.
BILL STEINBERG: Will a true hacker, who loves his II+ for just that reason,
be happy with a Macintosh?
WOZNIAK: That's a very difficult question for me. I believe that Mac is
the most revolutionary computer of all time – not that what it does hasn't been done before, but that it hasn't been done at a price which will wind up with millions experiencing it.
I developed the original Apples strictly from a hacker mentality: try any
impressive tricks which will satisfy a market of one (myself). This made it possible to include a lot of the accessible features. For example, I didn't assign a team to design the hardware and a team to design the software, but did them both. The lack of task-partitioning allowed the software to interact very closely with the hardware and make personal computers inexpensive. The designers of the Mac worked closely enough to achieve this, and many of them (Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, Burrell Smith) are hackers at heart.
The Mac, unfortunately, is so perfect that we didn't leave much room for
hackers to do hardware "for themselves" or "their own way" – we feel there were no alternatives. The philosophy on software is different – open, access the hardware at various levels. You won't have the interesting world WE enjoy of programming to handle each of five 80-column cards, six printer interface cards, four dot-matrix printers and a letter-quality printer, four modem cards, etc. The world of ones and zeroes, registers and adders, instruction sets and video modes is very dear to many of us. We were forced to learn it in order to be Apple II pioneers.
DAVID CUSIMANO: Will software take off for LISA?
WOZNIAK: Business software will come out for LISA but not from every young
entrepreneur trying to make his first product as with the II. Most of the vertical markets are supplied with software from Apple at time of purchase.
LAVONA RANN: Will we get 512K for the /// soon?
WOZNIAK: I think you can expect 512K on the //e first. The /// has a
problem with development. Although everyone wants to do great things with it and knows how great a product it is (functionally), it isn't selling for other reasons (early impressions). Thus, the / group has fewer R&D dollars to spend based on company revenues. Unfortunately, every product at Apple has to be compared to the II, which was one of the most successful products of all time. On the other hand, a lot of support is forthcoming from those who know what the / is, including hard- and software, and the product will be supported by Apple for many years no matter what.
ROLFE TESSEM: What can you tell us about the compatibility of SOS and
PRODOS? Will it be at the code level or only at the data file level? Also, any plans for larger Profile drives?
WOZNIAK: Yes, there are plans for larger Profiles. The minimal hard disk
for small business has grown to 10 megabytes, soon 20.
SOS and PRODOS are not compatible beyond the file level. The considerations
of banking in / extra memory have no analog in the e.
MIKE COHEN: Will PRODOS be 'able to support more than 128K of memory?
WOZNIAK: PRODOS WAS written to support only 64K (it was done a few years...
ago). Our enhanced e family is headed toward 16 Mb in a short time with a revolutionary 6502-based processor. ED LEARNED: Will PRODOS have easier access from assembly language? WOZNIAK: PRODOS will have easier access from assembly with good documentation from Apple on how to use and expand it . I haven't even used it much myself yet (not much software on it), but it looks like the most interesting thing to explore next year. FRED POVEY III: If I go with PRODOS, will I be able to use both PRODOS and CP/M, co-resident resident on a Profile hard disk? WOZNIAK: PRODOS is not sophisticated enough to handle itself and CP/M concurrently. ROGER KAPLAN: Will PRODOS source code be available for us hackers? WOZNIAK: I hope the source code will be available because it's fun to play with listings of operating systems. If anyone talks to involved parties at Apple, please let them know I have STRONG feelings on this. Unfortunately, the marketing department tends to be very protective of all products. Let's work to change this in the II-e world, if not in the other product lines at Apple!
JOHN MILLER: Any plans to contribute to interactive video for schools?
WOZNIAK: Sorry, I don't know the plans, only what I myself think is needed
in the future. Of course, we already have PILOT and SUPER PILOT with video- disk control.
Eventually we should combine the advantages of educational TV (better
presentation) and interaction of computer (like "teacher for every student"). These two have never been merged before and it will take quite a while – better software is needed, and the computers must have lower cost to pop up on every desk.
The educational community must move slowly in steps (allow 30 years).
Teachers of today have been trained to do all sorts of things by maintaining order with 30 students. But this means the presentation of material is FIXED (same for all students) and the grade is VARIABLE. Let's reverse this in 30 years. FIX the grade before you take a class, then the computer will adapt for each student, making the time needed to get that grade the VARIABLE .
DR. BILL ROSS: What exactly is your current position at Apple Computer,
WOZNIAK: While doing US Festivals, I was repeatedly asked if I was a rock
promoter. My answer was ALWAYS "No, inside I'm a computer designer in my life and nothing else. I created the US Festivals so I'm going to make them as great as I can."
After US '83, I walked into Apple PCS (// and /// division) and said I'd
like to return in a couple of months (August). I actually went full-time three days later. I chose PCS because I wanted to avoid heavy corporate product control from above. I figured all the attention was on the newer Mac and LISA products, and that PCS was the anonymous division where one could work on interesting products without a lot of outside control.
Boy, was I off base. I actually walked into the fire pit of Apple -- the
only products which ever made money for Apple and which were in need of strong technical development efforts to pursue lost markets like small business (which Apple itself killed be cause the / had that territory). Anyway, I may never be as anonymous as I'd imagined. ——————————————————————————–