iWoz, by Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith, 2006, published by W. W. Norton, 288 pages. ISBN: 0-393-06143-4 (find book)
I was given this book with a note inside telling me I would probably like it, “but what an ego this guy has”. I thought that was funny; if someone decides to write an autobiography, of course they have a big ego. And, started reading. And, very quickly understood what the note was referring to.
The style of the book (and the two person authorship) shows the book was mechanically built from conversations by Steve about his life. And, as it rolls through his early life it is a lot of references to the accomplishments of a boy and filled with “greatest ever” and “no one else” comments. This gets old very fast, and a lot of people would be left with the impression of his ego. If you plow through the book you will get to a different place, especially if you understand the knowledge it takes to design electronic circuits of the complexity to make a computer.
Steve is really a unique person, and also was lucky to grow up in a unique time. The pace of product development today and the complexity of devices make it very unlikely that a single individual could sit at a workbench and put together something that has the impact of a personal computer did around 1977. While the personal computer would eventually be built by someone, he did it first with no or almost no assistance. The design and concept of the product is still relatively unchanged 35 years later, and is as common to life as a telephone and completely altered the dynamics of information access, technology investing, and patent law. I think Steve can be forgiven a little ego.
So, whether you like the style or not, there’s lots of great first hand explanation of the history of the personal computer, founding of Apple the company, and the lifestyle of an entrepreneur. Along the way you’ll get an understanding of the history of a central person in all this and how he was positioned to take advantage of the opportunity. Steve also comes across as a person who actively promotes passion for your work and to not follow conventional thinking. I enjoyed the book a lot and its a pretty fast read.
What was missing was Steve’s thoughts on the iPhone revolution. The book was published in 2006, so the iPod had not yet shown its impact on the music business and the iPhone was still sitting on the drawing board. I would have enjoyed an updated version to get Steve’s thoughts on these events (you can find them in more recent articles) as well as what drove him to enter Dancing with the Stars.