Ken Gagne

Steve Wozniak on Apple's founding

August 16, 2013 6:00 AM EDT

In the 16 years I've been attending KansasFest, an annual convention dedicated to the Apple II computer, I've met some brilliant, passionate quirky programmers, developers, and enthusiasts. This year, I profiled several of them by asking, why do you come to an Apple II convention in the year 2013? One of the people I interviewed was the answer to that question: Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc. and creator of the Apple II.

Woz last attended KansasFest in 2003 as the keynote speaker and returned to hear this year's speaker, Randy Wigginton, Apple employee #6. (Woz was #1; Steve Jobs was #0.) Woz stayed for most of the convention that followed, soaking in the creativity and camaraderie of KansasFest that echoed the environment of the Homebrew Computer Club in which the original Apple-1 was created.

As co-host of the Open Apple podcast, I had the fortune to speak with Woz at length. To say we interviewed him might be too strong, as Woz loves to ramble. His stories may not be new, but they're always fun to hear. We captured some on video:

 

 

With today seeing the release of Jobs, it was timely to hear Woz's recounting of Apple's founding. In the video, Woz details developing the Apple-1 while working at Hewlett-Packard. Woz enjoyed his work at HP and felt morally obligated to offer them the computer he'd designed. "They turned me down five times," he recalled. It got to the point where he started to see the benefits of their rejection: "By this point in time, I was hoping they'd turn me down — I was really hoping we'd have our company, Apple."

Woz tried one more time, asking to graduate from the calculator division to computers. Again, he was refused — for which he is eternally thankful. "We wouldn't have Apple today if they had shifted me to the Capricorn project," which became the HP-85.

This 10-minute video is excerpted from a 20-minute audio interview conducted by Open Apple.

The Apple II inspires a unique brand of obsessiveness and ingenuity. After interviewing so many KansasFest attendees, it was unsurprising to realize that Woz fit right in.