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Stephen Wozniak is a Computer Engineer and a co-founder of Apple Computer, currently known as Apple Inc. He is credited with the invention of Apple I and Apple II computers in the 1970s. His inventions made significant contributions to the revolution of the Personal Computer. The Apple II computer was the most popular and best-selling personal computer in the late 1970s through early 1980s.
Stephen Wozniak was born on 11th August 1950 in Santa Clara Valley, California; this place is currently known as Silicon Valley. His mother was the president of the California Women Republican Club and his father was an engineer at Lockheed Corporation, A company that manufactured aircraft. It is important to note that at the time of Wozniak’s birth, Santa Clara Valley was a technological hub with all sorts of scientific inventions.
As a child, Wozniak was so much engrossed with electronics and mathematics. His love for mathematics as a child contributed greatly to his ambitions to become an engineer. As a young boy, Wozniak was very bright, that he would make electronics devices such as games, radios, etc from scratch. School bored him and this is demonstrated by his dropping out of Colorado and California University in two years, between 1970 and 1971.
After dropping from the University of California in Berkeley, he started working for Hewlett-Packard. It was during this period that he met John Draper, another smart young man, enthralled by electronics. At the time, Draper was working on an illegal telephone accessory known as a Blue box that would let users make free phone calls. It was from his close contact with Draper that Wozniak was introduced to the world of circuit board modifications and personal computer platforms.
As years went by and continued to work for Hewlett Packard, he met another employee known as Steve Jobs. Steve was another young man who was so much into computers and electronics. This was the same period when video game lovers and computer hobbyists were teeming up in Silicon Valley. There was this computer club known as Homebrew computer Club, in which Wozniak and Steve Jobs joined. This Club and many other can be credited with the development of the first computer microprocessor. It was around that time in 1975, when the first computer components, known as Altair 8800 was introduced to the market.
Birth of Apple Computers Inc
Altair 8800 was expensive and very slow. Wozniak couldn’t afford to buy one, but he was quick to learn on the model, and together with Jobs, they settled down to design their computer on a single board using a cheaper microprocessor with additional memory chips. The computer had a video interface integrated into the computer and an On-board Random Access Memory (ROM) which controlled the loading of external programs. It was faster than Altair. This first computer is what they called Apple I.
With Apple I reality, it was agreed that the job would engage in marketing the computer with a price tag of $666, while Wozniak works toward improving it. Over 600 units of Apple, I was sold, mainly to computer hobbyists, generating more than $774,000. This was a huge score for Wozniak and Jobs.
Wozniak was by now working harder to improve Apple I, maintaining the basic model, and in 1977; he succeeded in building Apple II. It was at this time he resigned from Hewlett Packard and together with Jobs formed Apple Computer Inc.
Apple II Computer
A game called Breakout contributed greatly to the success of the Apple II computer. Wozniak had written the basic program for translating instructions to machine language, known as Basin interpreter for this particular game. In a bid to improve it, he would join hands with another colleague known as Randy Wigginton to design chip-based paddle circuits and sound systems in Apple II computers. Next, they made simple Operating software that would be commanded by one letter keyboard command to load files from a specific location of the disk. It was after much improvement on this model that they came up with DOS 3.1. It is important to note that Apple II, unlike Apple I had a built-in circuit that could allow it to be interfaced with a color monitor or even a television, with simple modifications and adds.
Most of the software that was provided with Apple computers was written by Wozniak. To promote the sale and use of Apple II, Wozniak invited computer programmers to write a program for Apple II, from which a lot of programs were generated. For five consecutive years, Apple II was the best-selling computer, raking over $139 million. By the time Apple Computer Inc. was going public in 1980, it had grown by 700 percent although a later version of apple personal computers, Apple II Plus and Apple III, were not as popular as Apple II.
1981 would see a decline in the performance of Apple computers. Apple III computers for example had to recall after some technicalities were detected. This incidence caused massive layoffs. At this time round, Wozniak was deeply involved in writing some important math formulas for Spreadsheet that apple was to developing to compete against other personal computer companies that were coming up. This was the same time that he was working on the Macintosh project.
Departure from Apple Computer Inc
Stephen Wozniak’s first departure from Apple was fateful. In February 1982, he was involved in plane accidents that show him lose his memories. Wozniak could hardly recall anything. On recovery, he decided to leave Apple computer briefly to concentrate on personal interests unrelated to computers and technology. This period of departure from Apple computer shows Wozniak marrying and returning to college. He would later graduate with a degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from California University, Berkeley College.
Return to Apple Computers Inc
Upon graduation, Wozniak formed UNISON Corporation, a company that specialized in producing computer educational material aimed at making learning computers easier for students. In 1983, Wozniak returned to Apple computer, by this time, the company had forged ahead and produced many new products. Apple IIe and Apple Lisa were some of the new personal computers that the company had managed to introduce to the market in January 1983. It is important to note that Macintosh was developed successfully and was one product that was a success since its introduction to the market.
Stephen Wozniak and Steve Jobs’s contribution to technological advancement did not go unnoticed by a top government official. In 1986, Wozniak and Jobs received the National Technology Medal from US president Ronald Regan. It was at this juncture that Wozniak decided to leave apple computers Inc. to concentrate his effort on services toward humanity. By the time he was leaving Apple Computers, Wozniak had a personal fortune of $45 million. He used a considerable percentage of the money as a donation to various charities.
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Unable to let go of his talents, Wozniak joined a Home Electronic Appliances company going by the name Core, where he specialized in making home appliances remote control devices. Later he would leave the company to volunteer as a teacher at Silicon Valley Kindergarten volunteering his services to both the teachers and students.
Stephen Wozniak has beyond reasonable doubt pioneered an industry that has become part and parcel of our everyday life. His hard works from childhood through adulthood have laid the foundation for future technological advancement for generations to come in the field of computers. His work on Apple I and Apple II computer showed personal commitment to define and set standards in the world of personal computers. Wozniak has been consistent from his childhood through the time of his retirement from active technological involvement. He is one of the few individuals who can be said to have lived life to the fullest.
Keith Elliot Greenberg (1994) Steve Jobs & Stephen Wozniak: Creating the Apple Computer, Blackbirch Publishers, United States.
Steve Wozniak, Co-founder, Apple Computer, Web.
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