Co-founder gives look inside Apple
Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, signs MacBooks, iPhones, and copies of his book “iWoz,” which tells his rags-to-riches story from computer geek to cult icon. Max Reed / Alligator Staff

When Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc., was a kid, he and his friends would ask to be paid for gardening work in spare electronic parts.

When he was in sixth grade, he coded a program that would make a computer win tic-tac-toe every time.

He spoke at the O’Connell Center Monday night, attributing his success in the computer industry to his education and desire to figure out problems.

“The [passions] that really drive you are the ones that you feel in your heart,” he said.

Wozniak rose to technological fame when he created the Apple I and Apple II personal computers. He withdrew from the University of California at Berkeley to found Apple Computer Inc. with his friend Steve Jobs in 1976. He went on to earn the National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan and was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000.

Wozniak, who wore an iPod Nano on his right wrist, spoke to a crowd of 1,724 and was paid $70,000 to speak.

A mutual friend introduced Wozniak and Jobs. Wozniak said Jobs was the businessman and he was the engineer. But he said some people found Jobs hard to work with.

“He’s kind of abrasive,” he said. “That’s how he is.”

Wozniak said Jobs convinced him to sell the Apple I.

He said that Jobs said, “It doesn’t matter if we make a profit. The two of us will have a company, something we’ve always wanted.”

Before he knew it, they had a $50,000 offer for their computers. They bought the chips on credit and got paid for the computers upon delivery.

But he said he never wanted the success that Apple brought, and he strove to make sure the success didn’t change him.

Wozniak said he completed his degree at the University of California at Berkeley — he said he used the fake name Rocky Clark — and taught fifth grade for eight years.

“One of the most important things in life is knowing who you are,” he said.

Richard Brooks, a mechanical engineering major, said he feels that he can identify with Wozniak.

“He’s like a living legend to me,” he said. “Where I’m at now was kind of where he was at before he made it big.”