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8/26/2011
04:58 AM
Larry Press
Larry Press
Commentary
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Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Me: Opportunity Lost

I was there when Wozniak and Jobs showed first schematics for the Apple I. But did I ask them for a job?

I met Steve Jobs once. He and inventor Steve Wozniak were at the now-legendary Homebrew Computer Club meeting in Silicon Valley, where engineers and local wannabe "computing kit" geeks used to meet weekly to discuss how to create or build computer kits for home use.

The first true personal computer, the Apple II, was still two years away, remember. So this night was very early on in computer time. It was 1975.

Each Homebrew meeting featured a "random access" time, where anyone sitting there could just stand up, ask questions and announce things. I loved that part.

Steve Wozniak stood up and offered free copies of the schematic for the computer he built and was planning to start selling with Steve Jobs.

"I was so nervous," Wozniak said to BYTE today about that time. "But I heard it went great. Everyone seemed so excited about the Apple I."

Afterward, I approached Steve Jobs. He was behind one of the tables, showing a hand wire-wrapped Apple I breadboard.

He was talking about the tradeoffs in implementing functions in software or hardware. As an editor of Interface Age, I wanted to know more. Could I have an interview?

Only if we dedicated a whole issue to Apple, he said.

A whole issue on schematic on a box that hadn't even shipped yet? I was pissed by the kid's arrogance, frankly, and I walked away. How silly of me.

I should've asked for a job right then and there. All I cared about was computers, and the Apple I designs at first glance looked like a huge leap ahead.

Check this column by David Pogue. for more on the industries and products Job's imagined and then created.

This isn't engineering. It's art.

Check out Steve Jobs' commencement speech and other rare videos of him here.

Based in Los Angeles, Larry Press is a senior contributor at BYTE. Follow him @larrypress, or email him at Larry@BYTE.com.

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