The impression I got from Founders At Work was that Woz was a big big reason for Apple's short term success, but also didn't really understand Apple past a certain point. After all, a product like the iPhone, with its fused body and minimal hackability is utterly opposite to the values of an old school hardware hacker like Woz.
The Mac was mostly created without Woz, but the Apple ][ is what paid for the Mac & access to Xerox’s tech. Pixar shows Jobs’ ability to find & develop a team, but the Pixar team is unlikely to have created Apple. NeXT was Job’s attempt to do Apple without Woz and it didn’t work because he missed affordability & efficiency elements Woz excelled at.
If iWoz is accurate, Woz created floppy drives, monitors, and a number of other technical firsts. Based on iWoz, a Woz without Jobs keeps working at HP for life and becomes a Jason Kridner (founder of BeagleBone.org) type influencer, which is still exceptionally cool.
The other critical factor, that really was clarified in iWoz, is how lucky they were to grow up where & when they did. By a roll of the dice they had access to electronics components that most people in the world never knew existed. They also grew up in an intellectual property environment unencumbered by the 30 years of rules based on companies like HP and Atari not wanting new hires like Woz and Jobs to fork a startup. Modern law and information availability will prevent anyone from ever repeating their successes in the “computer industry”. But people will repeat their success in other industries.
Also exploited NTSC to do artifact color.
All great hacks.
I think different: not saying that I am right but I think in an alternative reality without Woz the time window for building a company like Apple would not exist. Apple exists because of all the rare events happening early on that where capitalized later. We can apply the same thinking to unique companies like Microsoft or Google where even the amazing capabilities of their founders and employees need a rare seed and specific time to be seeded.
> Apple exists because of all the rare events happening early on that where capitalized later.
That's definitely true. I'm not sure if the same early Apple stuff would have happened. But I could see post 90's Apple still happening in some fashion, especially if Jobs was truly able to con(vince) people into giving him funding via the reality distortion field. Jobs would probably have had to work his way up a little slower, but I could see him by the 90's as a kinda cult tech figure, respected enough that he could really work the VC funding circuit.
Woz was and is a brilliant technologist, likely he enjoys making machines work.
Building a walled garden of high security and low hackability, which started with the original Macintosh, is where their roads must have started to diverge.
(For the record, as a person, I would very much prefer to be like Woz than like Jobs, all the billions notwithstanding.)
People say this like Jobs didn't also have technical skills. I am not sure where this myth comes from, but Jobs was plenty sharp around technology. Compared to Wozniak, no, but almost no one was. Jobs was every bit of a toolsy hacker that worked from a young age for a computer corporation.
I'm speaking about the main motivation.
That is, e.g. RMS was and maybe is an avid hacker, but most people associate him with his political stance first, and Emacs and GCC a distant second.
Also the first iPhone was released 30 years after the Apple 1, that's several generations in terms of technological advancement. Bill and Paul were no longer at Microsoft 30 years after the first Windows release. Google is barely 20 years old.
From what I've read over the years, I get the strong impression that Woz, while still genius, was never the same after his plane crash and severe head injuries.
I encountered this kind of thing at an Autodesk event a couple years back. AI was generating bridge designs the civil engineers didn’t understand. So, Autodesk had to dial down the AI until the designs could be evaluated by enough people to get a building permit.
Edit: quote is from the article & about Woz’s design
Jobs was a once in a generation visionary. Woz was extremely talented, but not singularly unique.
Jobs, one-in-a-billion; Woz, one-in-a-hundred-thousand or so.
It goes way in depth about the journey surrounding Steve Jobs.
Bill Gates didn't write DOS he purchased it after selling it to IBM. More of a business guy than pure programmer.
Steve was in a class himself creating the hardware/software for the orginal apple.
In his book, Idea Man, Paul Allen openly proclaims that Bill Gates was a superior programmer to him. Allen says that he was, however, better than Gates in other ways, including when it came to assembly or anything working very close to hardware (Allen's most important Microsoft product after the very early days, was for example the SoftCard).
Further, Allen illuminates in his book that Gates was in fact an extraordinary programmer. He notes that Gates had a particular gift for raw output, endurance and figuring out ways to make their code as efficient in size as it could possibly be.
This article lends further support:
"Could Bill Gates write code? Yes. And then some, Altair BASIC dis-assemblers reckon"
> Reuben Harris has been disassembling a binary with some help from Monte Davidoff, the third author of Altair BASIC (along with Gates and Paul Allen) and who we interviewed here last week. He has the same question in mind:
> "'Could Bill Gates Write Code?' Or was he merely the luckiest man alive," before concluding... "Yes He Bloody Could!"
> Although Reuben's analysis is not quite complete, he tells us that Gates, Allen and Davidoff threw every trick at the book to squeeze the interpreter into 4 kilobytes. They succeeded and left some headroom for the programs themselves - without which it would have been pretty useless, of course.
> "It was pretty incredible - they were pretty good at what they were doing," he tells us.
Bill Gates actually was a very strong programmer in the early days, so this characterization is misguided. He was very passionate about writing code for other developers, not about catering to end users. It wasn’t until later in Microsoft’s history that he was more business focused.
Happy to dig up articles to back this up, but seriously it should be trivial to find tons via a simple google search if you really care.
Edit: re-DOS, sure they bought it. Do you know anyone who can write an operating system in under a month (the timeline MicroSoft had with IBM)?
It is a nice system for the time.
Microsoft was one of the largest software companies on the planet already by 1980 and among the few software companies in existence of any market relevance or development capability that could appeal to a company the size of IBM.
They did $8 million in sales in 1980, $26 million adjusted to 2019. That was a massive software business at the time, and only five years old.
Bill Gates was far richer than his family by 1980, at the age of 25. Microsoft's margins were extreme back then, 40% to 50% on that $8m. Gates was worth $100+ million inflation adjusted by the end of 1980.
That success was accomplished without using family connections to get deals. It's questionable whether Microsoft required help connecting with IBM. Microsoft was already well on its way to being a billion dollar valuation business in today's dollar.
As I recall the purchased DOS was extensively modified and redone for IBM.
It is worth a read.
At the risk of being rude, if that’s the impression you had, then you’ve been entirely misled. Microsoft in the early days was quiet literally the exact opposite.
I recommend reading virtually any book (there’s a lot) on the early history of MicroSoft.