Other than techies, many people do not realize that Apple, Inc. owes its existence not to Steve Jobs, but to Steve Squared.
– Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Wall Street and most lay persons talk mostly of Steve Jobs. But Apple was founded by both Jobs and Wozniak. Steve Wozniak, or The Woz as his fans know him, created both the Apple I and the Apple II computers and has been a personal computer pioneer.
Recently it was announced that Wozniak accepted a position as Chief Scientist for a Utah based start up company, Fusion-io. The announcement sent a resonating fervor among Utah’s large cyber community. However, what many do not know is that Wozniak’s new position at Fusion-io is not his first or only contact with Utah. This past summer I had the opportunity to meet The Woz in another segment of the Utah community – the Utah State Bar.
You might be wondering what connection Wozniak has with Utah’s legal community. Well, the connection goes something like this. Ralph Baer, who invented the first video game and is known as the “father” of video games is also the father of Mark Baer, who is an Assistant Attorney General in the Utah State Attorney General’s Office. Over the years, Wozniak and Ralph Baer have become acquainted through award ceremonies and events where one or the other was a keynote speaker. Also, both were awarded the National Medal of Technology.
This past year I was on the organizing committee for the Utah State Bar’s Annual Convention. At the time, I was the Vice-Chair of the Cyberlaw Section of the Bar. Mark Baer was also on the organizing committee. Together, Mark and I worked to bring Wozniak to the Utah Bar Annual Convention as a keynote speaker. The event was co-sponsored by Bateman IP Law Group and a number of other organizations.
Wozniak’s appearance at the Utah State Bar Convention was both historical and inspiring. For example, during the Convention, Wozniak, personal computer pioneer, engaged in a friendly competition of video ping pong with Baer, the inventor of the first video game. They competed on an original “brown box” prototype of the first video ping pong game. I made a brief mentioned of this in my introductory blog. (You can see a YouTube clip of the event by clicking this link.).
Wozniak, however, was inspiring not just because of his intellect and contribution to the world in terms of revolutionary technology, but also because of his character. During the Convention I had the opportunity to have dinner with Wozniak and the Baer family. What impressed me about him is that he is completely down to earth. He was neither pretentious nor full of himself. In fact, he seemed more interested in playing card games with the children than having cerebral conversations with the adults.
One story I overheard another attorney recount is exemplary. Apparently, this attorney’s children saw Steve Wozniak driving his Segway around the hotel grounds where the Convention was being held. His children had never seen a Segway, so they called out to Wozniak to ask him about his strange transportation. Wozniak could have easily been dismissive or given a brief response. Instead, he not only stopped to explain to the children what a Segway was, but he also showed them how to use it and gave them an opportunity to drive it around.
Thus, to me it seems that Wozniak is himself Steve Squared – the Steve of incredible technological intellect and the Steve of good personal character.