Steve Wozniak isn't perhaps as well known as his Apple Inc. cofounder Steve Jobs, but "Woz" invented the Apple I in 1976 and the Apple II in 1977, which was one of the best-selling PCs of that time. In this interview, Wozniak, who turns 57 on Aug. 11, talks about how he met Jobs, his most cherished inventions and why he believes thinking robots and artificial intelligence will never happen.
IDG: You said in your autobiography that you and Steve Jobs had complementary personalities. While you were the technical mind, he got the business vision; while you were shy he was extroverted. When and how did you first meet?
Wozniak: We first met during my college years, while he was in high school. It was 1971 when a friend said, you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks. So he introduced us. We both loved electronics and the way we used to hook up digital chips. Very few people, especially back then had any idea what chips were, how they worked and what they could do. I had designed many computers so I was way ahead of him in electronics and computer design, but we still had common interests. We both had pretty much sort of an independent attitude about things in the world, we were both smart enough to think things up for ourselves and not have followed the common disregard of the day, like counterculture. Steve was more apart of the counterculture thinking and I was really disclosed to it.
IDG: Are you still friends? Do you meet him regularly and still exchange opinions about technology?
Wozniak: Yes, we're still friends. We talk regularly but not much about things related to technology anymore.
IDG: Why did you quit Apple?
Wozniak: Being the sort of designer I was, I was designing things all on my own, working alone, and now the company grew to a point that it had organized engineering departments. I could still hang around and do any project I felt like, but I wanted to do real things with people in order to change the world and bring new products. So I didn't leave Apple. I just went to start other companies, and I stayed in Apple as an employee. I never left being employed at Apple. Up to this day I still get a small paycheck to settle royalties.
IDG: Do you think Apple was right by not licensing the Macintosh operating system?
Wozniak: That's very hard to say even now. Consider the iPod, what it means to Apple even in terms of money. To make Apple such a great company in the computer field we also had to consider a lot of things. If Apple had licensed the operating system would we still be as large and as good creating such great products? You can never look back and decide how the future would have turned out for Apple. ... A lot of our biggest assets are customer loyalty and a lot of customer loyalty comes from people who believe in what Apple was, partly because it was the company that made the whole thing, the operating system, the hardware, the application, services . . . It's the greatness of products that come through when we get control over all the aspects of the computer.
IDG: Do you think the PC era is over?