Steve Wozniak (with Gina Smith)

The world according to Woz

So synonymous has Steve Jobs become with Apple that most people don't even realise that there were other people involved, let alone the fact that it was arguably this other Steve who was the real driving genius behind the Apple II and Apple's original success. Steve Wozniak is certainly not short in the ego department, but as he explains, as an engineer, all he wanted was to be able to do engineering. So he never took the limelight in the same way as Steve Jobs.

In fact, Jobs doesn't get much space in this book. Wozniak spends much more time on what he obviously considers the important subject - the engineering - and appears unconcerned with, or even downright scathing of, the sales and marketing which must have been an equally important part of Apple's success. (In his few appearances, Jobs comes across as a bit of an arse.)

One thing that Wozniak does have in common with Jobs - and indeed with just about every successful person - is that he gives too much credit to his own genius, effort, application and insight - and too little to luck. If Wozniak hadn't designed the Apple II then someone else would have designed something similar or something that would have taken its place. It was clear (with hindsight) where the industry was heading and Apple was far from being the only company working in the area. History is written by the winners and the winners are often just fortunate. No-one's going to deny Wozniak is a legend, but there are plenty of unsung geniuses who just weren't in the right place at the right time.

The book is an interesting read, even for someone like me, who has no real interest in Apple as a company. It is fairly clear that it was only "written" in the loosest sense by Wozniak; he probably spent hours talking to Gina Smith who then transcribed it. The tone is surprisingly childish in some respects; maybe "conversational" would be another way to describe it - it's not particularly stylish.

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