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Expo Notebook #2: My Short Walk with Steve Wozniak

Rodney O. Lain - 2000.01.12

This article was originally published on The iMac.com, a site which no longer exists. It is copyright 2000 by RAC Enterprises, which also seems to no longer exist. It is thus reprinted here without permission (which we would gladly obtain if possible). Links have been retained when possible, but many go to the Internet Wayback Machine.

It was right after Steve Jobs' keynote that it happened.

I was standing there, doing nothing, really.

And I did a double take. There, walking right past me was The Woz himself. Steve Wozniak, the person who should be getting more acclaim than Steve Jobs ever deserves. I'm sure you know that Steve Wozniak created the very first Apple computer, the computer that created the personal computer movement. He has a solid position in the annals of technology.

Never one to walk away from an opportunity, I walked up to him and said, "hello."

"Hello," he said, flashing a disarming smile.

"I'm glad to see you here," I say.

I don't remember what he said. I was in awe. Not fawning, just quietly, inwardly in awe.

He didn't seem to mind my talking to him, so I walked with him and we had a conversation from where I met him (on the 13th row or so), all the way to the outside of the auditorium's lobby.

"You know," I said, deeply, sincerely, "I wish there were some way that you would rejoin Apple, even it's the most unassuming capacity." It was more of a question that a comment.

"I can't do that," he said in an honest, down-to-earth manner. "I have too much of a life."

We walk some more, and every few steps, The Woz is stopped by people who want to shake his hand, pose with him for a picture or just say "hi."

"I imagine that you stay busy," I continue. Again, more of a question or conversation prompt, than anything else.

I then ask for an e-mail interview: that's when I send him a list of questions, and he writes me back replies.

"Oh, no," he declines. "I get so much e-mail now that I fear I may have to hire someone to answer my e-mail."

He goes on to say that he responds personally to each e-mail he gets, but now has gotten to the point where he spends hours each day just answering e-mail, which is a big stress on his already busy schedule of teaching, charity work , what have you.

I ask him if he'd like to consider writing a book on his "Apple story."

He replies that he's already had several book offers, but they died, because he could never find time to complete a book.

"But I am working on a book," he says. "It will be about the funny things that have happened to me over time."

I wish him good luck on the book, and ask how much of it will cover his Apple days.

"Anything about Apple will be coincidental," he replies.

I understand that to mean that he doesn't really care too much about writing on something that has been widely hashed and rehashed in numerous books already.

We continue to chat. He seem really patient with me, answering my questions. I ask for an interview. He says that he would love to, but is headed back home in a few hours.

I wish him well, and thank him for allowing me to walk with him.

I leave and walk for a couple of minutes, before I remembering that I didn't get to ask him what I've wanted to ask him all along: how does it feel to know that you are responsible personally for all of this? This whole personal-computing thing?

Regardless, that was still one of the best "celebrity talks" I've ever had.

Rodney O. Lain is The iMac's Associate Editor. A former professor, he lives in St. Paul, MN, where he is a freelance writer and a supervisor at a major US corporation. He enjoys comic books and pencil drawing. He adores Mike Royko, Zora Hurston, Lewis Grizzard, Maya Angelou, John Byrne, bell hooks, Frank Miller and Henry Louis Gates. He also writes for Low End Mac, Applelinks and My Mac Magazine. When no one's looking, he rants and raves on his home page Free Your Mind & Your Behind Will Follow.

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