Apple co-founder shares success story

APPLE AT ASU: Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of Apple Computer Inc., takes time after his speech to answer audience questions and sign various apple products. (Photo by Michael Arellano)

While in school, Steve Wozniak never considered a career in computers. Rather, the co-founder of Apple considered his love for computers as the “most fun game” of his life.

Wozniak spoke to a crowd of more than 500 Wednesday at Murdock Hall on the Tempe campus.

Entrepreneurs@ASU, a group that specializes in bringing entrepreneurial guest speakers to campus, hosted the event.

Wozniak’s invention, the Apple II computer, helped establish the company’s success in 1977, but he reminded the crowd that the founders of Apple began the company without business experience or savings.

“Some of the best things we did at Apple, we did because we didn’t have any money,” Wozniak said.

Wozniak offered advice and inspiration to those looking to start their own business or enter computer engineering.

He recommended building projects for fun rather than working within the bounds of specific school assignments.

Wozniak described the years he spent designing computers for fun in high school, without the parts to build them, and said that laid the groundwork for him to make breakthroughs in a short amount of time later in life.

Wozniak told his personal story with humility and humor, highlighting points in his career with stories of his best practical jokes, such as jamming the TV signal in class using a device wired into a magic marker and framing another student for it.

“You can always get two jokes for one if you frame somebody else,” Wozniak said.

Wozniak has pursued a variety of interests in later life including returning to Berkley under the name Rocky Raccoon Clark because he didn’t want to be recognized. He also taught for eight years and appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and the “Big Bang Theory.”

Management entrepreneurship senior Tyler Metcalf, the co-president of Entrepreneurs@ASU, said the club adviser was only able to schedule Wozniak two days before the event and they only had two days to publicize it, but the large turnout could be attributed to Apple’s penetration of American culture.

When Wozniak spent time speaking with a mob of people after his speech, Metcalf said it reflected his character.

“No other speaker has embraced the crowd like he did,” Metcalf said.

Joe Shapiro, the CEO of Chatterspace, who is working on a video chat version of Twitter, said Wozniak’s appeal was apparent at the event.

“He is a character in the bible of the computer story,” Shapiro said.

Reach the reporter at mshinn@asu.edu