Apple Co-Founder Wozniak Talks ‘Creative Misbehavior’ at InComm Partner Alliance (April 1, 2014)
Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, the technical guru behind the original Apple computers, kept nearly 1,000 attendees at InComm’s annual Partner Alliance spellbound with his tale of how a “geeky, electronics kid,” driven by his passion to solve problems and compulsion to engage in “creative misbehavior,” led to a famous partnership with legendary Steve Jobs.
Growing up in Silicon Valley in the ’50s and ’60s, Wozniak’s status as a smart kid set him apart. “When you’re excluded from parties, you have a lot of time,” he said. He used that time to challenge himself to solve problems, drawing on his affinity for electronics and what seems to have been an endless supply of electrical detritus in the workshops of neighbors. “Taking a different path is the same thing as creativity,” he continued.
Soon, Wozniak taught himself to build a computer, piecing together “the little things he knew” and “reworking the design every weekend.” A chance introduction to Steve Jobs and a connection that supplied Wozniak with the computer chips he couldn’t afford on his own, ultimately led to the development of the Apple I and Apple II, the first successful, mass-produced personal computer. And, the rest, as they say, is history.
Never driven by monetary reward, Wozniak left Apple in 1981. He now devotes a significant portion of his time to philanthropic endeavors.
Are there lessons for mere mortals in Wozniak’s story? Probably not from Wozniak himself, who, while acknowledging his accomplishments and intelligence, seems unaware of his specialness. For others, perhaps, the takeaway from Wozniak’s tale is that following a different path can lead to unimagined discoveries.