A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for more than thirty years, Steve Wozniak has helped shape the computing industry and influenced the popular Macintosh.
In 1976, Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak's Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced his Apple II personal computer, featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, colour graphics, and a floppy disk drive. The Apple II was integral in launching the personal computer industry.
Steve Wozniak met Steve Jobs when a fellow high school student introduced them to each other. In 1970, they became friends when Jobs worked for the summer at Hewlett-Packard, where Wozniak was working on a mainframe computer. In 1971, one year after enrolling, Wozniak withdrew from the University of California, Berkeley and developed the computer that eventually made him famous.
Single-handedly he designed the hardware, circuit board designs, and operating system for the Apple I. He and Jobs were largely working to impress other members of the Palo Alto-based Homebrew Computer Club, a local group of electronics hobbyists very interested in computing. The Club was one of several key centres which established the home hobbyist era, essentially creating the microcomputer industry over several years. Unlike other Homebrew designs, the Apple had an easy-to-achieve video capability that drew a crowd when it was unveiled.
The Apple I was priced at $666.66 (because Wozniak likes repeating digits). They sold their first 50 system boards to Paul Terrell, who was starting a new computer shop, called the Byte Shop, in Mountain View, California. In 1981, he went back to UC Berkeley and finished his degree in electrical engineering/computer science.
For his achievements at Apple, Steve Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the highest honour bestowed on America's leading innovators.
In 2000, Steve was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment for single-handedly designing the first personal computer and for then redirecting his lifelong passion for mathematics and electronics toward lighting the fires of excitement for education in grade school students and their teachers.
Through the years, Steve Wozniak has been involved in various business and philanthropic ventures, focusing primarily on computer capabilities in schools and stressing hands-on learning and encouraging creativity for students. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose.