'King of the Nerds' Goes Dancing

Wozniak has done none of these things. Rather, he set out to do two things: 1. Follow his own interests; and 2. Make other people happy. And, because he has had the money to do so, that's what he has done. And if that seems a bit child-like and naïve, well, so is Steve. There has always been something of Candide (the gentle optimist in the Voltaire satire of the same name) in Wozniak, and the rest of us have often worried about him being taken advantage of. I remember once interviewing Woz and Bill Graham and thinking that the wily old promoter was staring at the naive young entrepreneur exactly the way a fox looked at a chicken. But, like Candide, Wozniak has seemed to emerge from all of the ambushes, if a bit more world-weary, still honest and uncynical. And, if I used to hold his innocence in contempt, after a lifetime of living in this ferociously competitive town, I now find I admire it more by the year.

The life Woz has chosen to live is probably not the road you are I would have taken. And the broken marriages and failed businesses certainly suggest it all hasn't been fun. But let's also not forget the rock festivals (and Shoreline amphitheater, home of Neil Young's Bridge School benefit), and the years he devoted to being the world's most unlikely junior high school teacher. And like most Valleyites, I know and appreciate Woz's crucial role in underwriting the Children's Discovery Museum and, while he still had money, acting as the benefactor of last resort for the area's many non-profit institutions.

Can Wozniak Win?

A generation of computer geeks has been waiting for Woz to create one more miracle, invent one last world-changing machine. But I don't think he can. Instead, we should just celebrate what he did do during his brief Promethean moment and be thankful that the rest of life didn't turn out badly.

Woz remains as supremely goofy as ever. But he is also wiser now, and a better person than many of his far more successful peers. His old partner, Steve Jobs, truly screwed Wozniak over in the early days of Apple, convincing Woz (as I wrote in my book "Infinite Loop") to create a videogame for Atari for which Jobs not only took credit but most of the money he'd agreed to split with Wozniak.

Yet, now that Jobs is very sick, it is Wozniak who steps out in public to defend Jobs from the prying public. Woz has forgiven and forgotten, and how often does that happen in Silicon Valley or anywhere else in the business world?

So now Woz is going to try his hand at TV celebrity and ballroom dancer. Will he win? Probably not. But don't discount him -- remember the swim team -- he's more of an athlete than you think. But one thing for certain, no one out there on the stage will be having more fun than Steve Wozniak.

This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...