Really a Pirate Flag

Comment from E-mail

I just have to ask you about the Pirate Flag that was in the movie. Was the flag real or was that something they added in the movie? If it was true, who’s idea was it? While watching the movie, my only guess was that Apple raised the flag when Bill Gates met with Steve Jobs for a business meeting. On another note, you’re a great man. Not too many people in the world as caring as you. If the part of your charactor was real in the movie (i.e. telling Steve Jobs to do the right thing, or you will give away some of your stock), I can only say that you DID THE RIGHT THING!! Right on! -Andy


Couldn’t be the real flag. It did fly all the time. I gave away a lot of my stock to do the right thing, very rare but true. I didn’t go into all this for the money.

Memory Loss

Comment from E-mail

Can you discuss the nature of the “memory loss” that you suffered?


This may be simplified but here it goes. When you see or hear or othewise sense something, it’s held in your shortterm memory to be perceived. If you hold it in short term memory for a while (5 seconds? 10 seconds? 15 seconds?) it can somehow (unknown) make it to a long term, permanent, memory. The processing path for this formation is well suspected to be through the hippocampus because people who can’t form long term memories, like myself for 5 weeks, often have identifiable lesions in this area of the brain. This is called atereor grada amnesio or some such thing (‘forward’ amnesia). It is quite common after car crashes and plane crashes and the like. Mine wasn’t diagnosed by doctors, friends, family, psychologists, etc. After all, with all my old memories, I could go places and ride my motorcycle, etc. People just thought that I was weird because I said weird things. I couldn’t tell you that I’d seen someone 10 minutes before (I’m presuming) but I had no way to know that this amnesia existed or that I had it during the 5 weeks. I couldn’t have told Steve that I had memory problems, as in the movie.

It was real. I never got any memories from this period. I would never have gone 5 weeks with my dogs in a shelter, nor left a missing tooth be untreated for this period.

The ‘backwards’ amnesia with which we are most familiar is called retrograda amnesia, or something like that.

Good Luck

Question From e-mail (by way of Jim Valentine):

Jim, My name is Brian R. I spoke with you last night around 6pm and you asked me to send you this note. Several years ago, Steve visited Fort Lauderdale at my request for what was the local Apple user’s group. Steve actually made 2 visits down including bringing 2 of the key developers for the Mac, Andy and another gentleman. On both occasions, Steve came over to my house where I showed him what I was doing at the time with a bulletin board system. After Steve’s last visit, about 2 or 3 days later a 5MB hard drive showed up on my doorstep with a “Good luck” note attached.

The success I have experienced since then has everything to do with the Woz spending the time with me that he did in Fort Lauderdale and even on a trip I made with my family out to California shortly after his South Florida visit. As I told you on the phone last night, I am in town with my wife and 21-month old son and would like to stop by to say hello if at all possible. We are leaving Saturday morning to start driving back to Florida. I will call your office around 9-10am on Friday morning. Sincerely, Brian


Brian, this is Steve. I hope that I can get to see you, but if not, best wishes anyway. I do remember your name when I see this and I remember the two Fort Lauderdale visits as great ones. The parts that I recall might differ from your own. I remember your BBS and was very impressed. The second trip was the week that the Macintosh was introduced and I brought Andy, Burrell, and Bill Atkinson along as a special gift to your club and the one in Washington D.C. (if I remember correctly) where the projector almost didn’t arrive in time. I remember crying on the plane coming into Fort Lauderdale but I won’t say why here.

I get to hear back very often from people that I apparently made a positive difference in their lives, with special gifts or sponsorship. Many of them turn out very successful and I hope that they’ve been influenced positively. I’ve mostly forgotten these incidents. There are many many of them. Plus, they are part of my ‘way’ and not individually special. I am so glad that you remember this good thing.


Comment from E-mail

I guess I am writing this, well in hopes of being able to make a friend. I would really like to be able to ask questions to the “woz” as a student, and I am so eager to learn but no one seems to be able to teach me thing I allways wanted to know, even J&W won’t help they are a Compact Service Repairt Center…YUCK!!!!! . He is someone who I model my life after, I would like to learn from someone who I allways considered my hero. There were 3 thing I allways wanted to do when I was younger be a pilot(Private Pilot 233197440), go to a Billy Joel Concert (Billy Joel, Elton John), and work for Apple (Hay you never know?) I to would like to make my mark on society, but it is really increadable to think that a few people who just thought a little differently that everyone else changed so much.


Nice to get your good letter. I hope that you far exceed all of your heroes. You can call me a friend, but I won’t be able to spend a lot of time and probably won’t have much to teach you. I assure you that I rarely have a free moment and that too many people are looking for my time.

Your goals and achievements certainly impress me. I hope that no matter how many things you accomplish and no matter how successful you are, that you always enjoy a little popular music. Singers inspire what we want to be in life and how we want to live our lives as much as any heroes.

What about the Web?

Comment from E-mail

As the person who brought computers into the homes of common folks everywhere, what are your thoughts on the web and all its attendent joys and problems?


I think that the web is more user friendly than software is. I hate SPAM. I don’t think that companies take responsibility for their software or hardware. Customer support matches voice mail menu systems for helpfulness these days. Someday that should all change to favor the customers first.

Another US Festival?

Question from E-mail

Would you ever consider doing another US Festival type event? I was too
young/poor to attend them but they looked like a lot of fun.


I wish I could. I always look back favorably at the US Festivals.
They were the best ever. You’ll hear that often from people that attended

Mac vs Windows?

Question from E-mail

How do you feel about the Mac vs. Windows war that some computer users
engage in?


I’m surprised at the extent of the bigotry. But it really plays out
when companies or schools take a side and prohibit the other platform
at all. We Mac users should be good even when the other side is bad. We
should do what we can to accept the other platforms. All the best people
in life seem to like LINUX.

Remember the ZX80

Comment from E-mail

I do have a question for you…Do you remember a Brit by the name of Sir Clive Sinclair. If so, what is your take on Sinclair computers. I always thought of “Uncle Clive” as a British version of you. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a Steve Jobs to brilliantly market his products. (Just to spur memories, the ZX80 (a Z80A microprocessor-based, membrane-keyboard, 1K RAM computer, black, about 5″ by 5″ by 1″) and the QL (released about 6 mos. after the Mac (had a Motorola 68008 processor, 128K RAM and to microcassette drives built in). As I remember it, it was the first computer to significantly improve upon your BASIC, only 10 years later…


Sinclaire kept coming out with very inexpensive, great, products. Many of them I bought. I think that he did have some marketing, if not the longest life products. I even bought a ZX80, and later the Timex version.

My own BASIC was the hardest task of developing the Apple I and ][ computers. I’d never studied compiler/interpreter writing and had only practiced my ideas on paper before. I’d read some good books on the subject. I’d never programmed in BASIC before the Apple I. I just sniffed the air and decided that the games that would drive personal computers were written in BASIC. I picked up a manual at Hewlett Packard and used their variant of BASIC as my model. Either they had good substring syntax or I evolved my own based on theirs, but I much preferred it to the DEC style that Microsoft went with, using LEFT$ and MID$ and RIGHT$ functions. I laid out my syntax charts and made a decision to take floating point out so that I could finish slightly sooner and have the first BASIC for the 6502 processor ever. I mainly wanted it to be able to play games. Then I knew it was good enough for whatever else. I also wanted to program solutions to my Hewlett Packard engineering problems. That’s where I worked as an engineer designing calculators.

I could go on. The BASIC turned out extremely modular, so I could easily add something by adding some syntax descriptions in near-text form, and write routines for the new functions or ops that were needed. The language didn’t have to be rewritten.

Was Dial-A-Joke You?

Question from E-mail

I just had to laugh at the part in the movie where someone called Dial-A-Joke. I remember calling that number to hear the joke of the day. Was it really you who did this?


Experimenting with blue boxes to make calls anywhere in the world while at Berkely in 1971-1972, I encountered a few Dial-a-Jokes in the world. I never used the blue box to save money on phone calls, I was an ethical hacker.

So while working as an engineer at Hewlett Packard, designing scientific calculators, I started the first Dial-a-Joke in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was before you could buy answering machines or even telephones. I had to rent a very expensive machine made for theaters, and eventually had to quit because I couldn’t afford it. I got so many calls that I had to keep changing the number. Anyone with a similar number would get 100 calls a day. The best known numbers that I had were (408) 255-6666 and (408) 575-1625. I operated Dial-a-Joke out of my Cupertino apartment, where I did a lot of the Apple designing (I designed every bit and wrote all the code including BASIC myself). I used a thick Eastern accent, like Russian, and used the name Stanley Zebrezuskinitsky when I took live calls.

40K for the Apple I

Comment from E-mail

I just saw where the first Apple I (they claim) is going on the auction block and is projected to demand in excess of $40K. Wow, pretty cool, huh? Your thoughts on that?


I wanted to give the first Apple I, on a PC board, to Liza LO*OP of the LO*OP Center in Cotati, California. I took Steve [Jobs] up there and she showed us how she rolled a PDP-11 around to elementary schools and told the students how a computer was just a collection of programs written by people and didn’t have a mind of it’s own. 4th through 6th graders. I admired this and wanted to give her the first one. Jobs actually made me buy it, if you can believe that, for $300. I did and gave it to Liza. The one being advertised must be number 2.

Wouldn’t you have made a great CEO?

Question from E-mail

Why didn’t you go back to Apple after they fired Steve Jobs? Shouldn’t you have gotten most of the credit since you created most of the things? Wouldn’t you have made a great CEO?


I didn’t totally quit. I always kept a small employment status at Apple. I should ALWAYS be a part of it. But I’m non-political and could not run a company or manage people well. Its not my thing.

Thanks for your confidence. I know that I’d have done things differently, but I wouldn’t want to say that things would have turned out better. It’s a hard question.

Many feel that I, the sole inventor and engineer of some incredible products and software and even our Apple ][ BASIC, that kicked this whole revolution off, deserves the most credit. Well, I’m happy that people and books generally accept me as a good engineer. I don’t need the political credit. That seems to go with whoever is currently “in office” and that part is not for me.

I admire you more than Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

Comment from E-mail

I just saw “Pirates of Silicon Valley” on TNT. I have enjoyed using computers for several years, but I was unaware of all the things that took place between Micorsoft and Apple. I just wanted to tell you that if the movie was accurate, I admire you more than Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. You are incredibly talented and you kept everything in perspective. Keep up the good work.


The personalities and incidents are accurate in the sense that they all occured but they are often with the wrong parties (Bill Fernandez, Apple employee #4, was with me and the computer that burned up in 1970) and at the wrong dates (when John Sculley joined, he had to redirect attention from the Apple III, not the Mac, to the Apple ][ ) and places (Homebrew Computer Club was at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center).

I did give a lot of stock to employees that were with us from the beginning, etc. I also designed 2 computers (the Apple I being the first typewriter model with a keyboard ever and the Apple II being too spectacular to detail :o) ), a mini OS, app software, my own BASIC, lots of interfaces (cassette, printer, serial, modem, floppy) and more. Heck, in the movie Ed Roberts had the Altair computer KIT and Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote the BASIC. That’s the last real design any of the other principals did. The part about me being the only true engineer wasn’t played out much.

You’ve remained the same person that you were…

Question from E-mail

Hi Mr. Woz, I just wanted to say that I just saw Pirates of Silicon Valley and was amazed at what went on way back when. I commend you for remaining the same person you’ve always been rather than turning into a money hungry, stuck up person like so many others do. It’s so interesting to me that you made the computer that made Apple even possible, but it was Steve Job’s that seemed to take all the credit.

Was the scene with the man being interviewed really true? Did Steve Job’s actually demean a potential employee?? I have to say, that they portrayed him as a real jerk who was very demeaning to his employees if they did not perform to his liking. And actually, Bill Gates was no better. They were and maybe still are hungry for the power. The other thing that I found interesting and didn’t realize was that Microsoft now owns part of Apple. Steve Jobs is definitely a brilliant business man but after seeing what Bill Gates has done I’d have to say that he’s even more savvy! Anyway, those were just a few thoughts I had. I was just really impressed with your character and how you’ve remained the same person that you were when you created that first computer. I hope you don’t mind my two cents. : – )


It’s funny, but even with all the things that aren’t said outright, a great number of people, like yourself, saw a lot of things in that movie that are totally true. The personalities were very accurately portrayed.

I designed the computers just to do it and show the world that it could be done and help them happen. Later Steve Jobs suggested starting a company to make money from it. I’d been giving out schematics for free at the Homebrew Computer Club. That’s what I believed in. It was hard for me to even start the company when it looked like there might be real money in it.

I often wonder why I remained the person I always wanted to be, from late high school on. I wanted to be an engineer and then a 5th grade teacher and I wanted a computer someday and I wanted to be nice to people and I wanted to tell and make jokes and I wanted a family and home. It couldn’t have come truer for me.

Apple I Clone

Comment from E-mail

Hi, I am 14 years old. My friend and I want to build an Apple 1 clone, for fun and to advance our skills. Any help that you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


Noble idea. They didn’t show it but I gave out schematics to my Apple I at the Homebrew Computer Club before Steve Jobs suggested starting a company. I’d gladly approve you being able to make a cheap one, but don’t know how it would be possible today. If it were possible, the Apple ][ is the way to go, I assure you.

Almost No Major Worries

Comment from E-mail

Dear Steve, It occurred to me while reading your comments about the movie that you seem to have a natural knack for a lot of things and understanding and developing technology, amazingly, is just the tip of the iceberg. You instinctively seem to know what is important in life, how to prioritize for the things that really matter like kids, friends, etc. and the value of simply being kind to people and kind to animals. If you’ve found your bliss then I believe that is more of an accomplishment than anything else we are put on this earth to face. It is so hard to believe in yourself sometimes. I think if you can instill this idea in kids…to believe in themselves and be true to themselves and listen to their own intuition, then that is the best lesson anyone could give. You give that lesson every day by your own example.

I saw Larry Ellison on an old Charlie Rose show the other day. It was from 1997 I think but anyway, he was talking about how the Japanese value service to others and view being of service to others as a path toward happiness. He said being in Japan was like being on another planet because, generally, we don’t appreciate people who are of service to us in the U.S. We look upon serving others as demeaning. That’s a really sad thing to say but it’s true. Most of the time, if we’re honest about it, we reward ruthlessness. (how many people have Microsoft stock right now, in effect, making Gates even richer?) But I guess I shouldn’t think of money as a reward. Only then does life even start to make any sense. It is better to give than to receive but it’s a lot harder. You’ve followed your path, were true to yourself and to your friends and even now, have continued to be of invaluable service to others. Even by having this web page you are giving others a glimpse that good things do happen to good people. Thank you for that. Thank you for being you.


Thanks. I agree with your values. Yes, I’m very lucky to have a clean light head with almost no major worries about things ever. I’m of the opinion that you have to develop your own keys to happiness from your own logic, and that one’s keys can’t be told to another who can’t ‘feel’ them. So I never take the opinion that the ways I found happiness (long before Apple) can be told to someone else (a child perhaps) and help them be happy. They have to find their own for it to work.

Mac 512, Signed

Question from Susan

My first Mac (which still works) was a 512 “Enhanced” with all the signatures inside. Can you tell me more about this model? Thank You, Susan


Steve Jobs felt that the early Mac should be very closed to have good control over what it was and did. But that left oversights like memory expansion. So the 128K ‘first’ Mac had to soon be replaced by the 512K model (as RAM prices dropped).

The original Macs had the signatures inside. It’s pretty cool. Despite the fact that my plane crash had taken me out of Apple and through college and into promoting rock concerts, many of the Mac team felt that they’d been so influenced by me that they included me among the signaturees.

Kind of Person

Comment from P. D.

You are the kind of person who is lacking today…I admire you greatly. I have read some of the early stories, and I commend you for being someone we can all look up to! P.D.


Thanks very much. I’m glad to have inspired so many not for being in charge of the companies that make their products.

Relationship with Steve Jobs

Comment from E-mail

Can you discuss the nature of your relationship with Steve Jobs at this time? [pre 2000]


I actually like him and what he says. I couldn’t treat people the way he does but I’ve never witnessed it either. He’s quite intelligent and makes sense, although he doesn’t always listen fully. For example, I might be trying to help and he might hear it more as a worthless complaint. I do not oppose Steve in any way. I’m even amazed if he really pulls off Apple’s next decade successfully. I could never manage projects well, as Steve does, now that they are so complex with so many people involved.

Some thoughts about Steve Jobs

Question from Mark B.

I was just browsing through your website and I just thought I’d offer my two cents and ask you a question regarding Pirates of Silicon Valley.

The main character in the movie seems to be Steve Jobs, described by the director in an interview as a complex Shakespearean character. While this maybe true, I found your character equally compelling, and ironically, an opposite in many respects to Steve Jobs in desires and ambitions. After reading your comments and seeing the movie, I came away with a greater sense of the history at Apple, and your your significant role, to create revolutionary rather than evolutionary products. It was interesting for me to see that, although computers can perform many of the same functions, Apple’s early focus on creativity (both at Apple and in there users) remains as compelling today as it was back then. Kudos to you for defining the essence of Apple early on.

I guess, if I could ask one question: Why was Steve Jobs so cruel, especially with regards to his own child? The director eluded to his adoption and the search for his mother but no evidence for a link was ever given. Is this one of those things that only Steve Jobs knows the answer to? Did you ever get any insight to the source of this behavior? I have to believe this is beyond the simple desire to have people perform at 110% for 90 hrs/wk.

Thanks again for creating and defining a tool millions of people can use to learn, express, and communicate ideas.

Sincerely, Mark B.


First, you are accurately observant. I look back at the importance of making computers quite unlike any that had ever been done and can see how great that was. The Apple I was the first low cost computer to come with an alphanumeric keyboard standard. I just couldn’t see the waste and effort to build some general techie product that needed a lot more junk to start typing. And until you type, nothing is worth much. I’d been through the other computer paradigm my whole life before. Also, our calculators at HP had meaningful (to humans) keyboards when turned on. I also made the Apple I display on the cheapest device possible, your own home TV. I also wrote the BASIC for it. I only left out floating point after thinking hard in order to have the first BASIC for a 6502 and maybe get a little fame in my club. The Apple ][ was the first to have BASIC in ROM, the first to have DRAMs, expandable hugely on the motherboard, the first to have so few chips, the first to be completely built, the first with a plastic case, the first with color graphics, the first with hi-res, the first with sound, the first with paddles for games, the first to include built-in casette interface, the first to have color and game commands in the BASIC, etc. It was the third ever to look like a typewriter (the Apple I was the first). I’m especially that I helped the concept of computers are for games develop so early.

Steve and I are very different. Mainly, I want to be an engineer and make neat things for my own fun, forever. I told Steve and Mike Markkula that I wouldn’t expand Apple into a real company because I had to quit HP (I’d designed all the Apple stuff moonlighting for a year!). I loved HP. But I finally realized that I could do it and not have to run it. From the start, Steve wanted to run a company and learn the ways to. Otherwise, what was his contribution? He didn’t design any of it.

Steve’s management style has left a lot of bad impressions. I never saw it personally and it was different than I would have expected from knowing him. I don’t think that he was ever cruel to his daughter, at least as far as the movie. He may have indirectly been cruel to the mother. Well, here’s my take on that. All the people that lived in the Cupertino house with the two of them agreed that it was Steve’s child for sure. I’m assuming he didn’t like her idea to have the baby. But he wasn’t in control. I think that’s why he said “I don’t know” about why he was being this way. He couldn’t pinpoint the fact that he was being told by someone else what was going to happen. Does this make sense. It’s my theory. Taking that into account, it’s understandable. He had strong feelings to fight this baby thing and it came out the way it came out, maybe not exactly intentionally.

I don’t get a lot of insight into Steve’s behavior. A lot of it, or what infuences it, is more secret than in people like myself. But he always seems to be thinking well and just wanting to do things that make sense most of the time. Sometimes Steve doesn’t listen fully but he tries to.

You are one of my favorite people in entire world.

Comment from E-mail

You are one of my favorite people in entire world. After seeing Pirates of Silicon Valley, I understand the differences between you and Jobs in 80’s. I m being curious about today’s relationship between you and Jobs? Has Jobs changed a lot today comparing to early 80’s? Like people say, “Wine gets better when it matures in time..”

Whether or not Steve has changed (I believe that he’s much better than before) a person like him is needed to carry mankind ahead.

Also, Apple has made a comeback into computer industry and how do you feel about it. Standing mighty PROUD? 🙂


I’m very glad that Apple is the only company that can make great strides in new directions. A few, like Sony, try but they are trapped by Intel and Microsoft. I’m only proud when people have a better life because they have good computers. When the industry makes positive changes that affect individuals I’m happy.