14 year old scores an interview with Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak

An hour long interview of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak by a 14 year old tech entrepreneur

Steve Wozniak believes that mentors are very much important in the life of a student and since Sarina K is also helping other students to get in touch with potential student mentors he was ready to give her an hour long interview.

A few weeks ago, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, “Woz” agreed to meet Sarina Khemchandani and also granted her the permission to interview him for her website known as ReachAStudent.

ReachAStudent, is a website founded by a 14 year old and 9th grade student Sarina Khemchandani who aims to reach out and help other students at her school in Orlando, Florida, to directly communicate with the potential student mentors. Khemchandani told Business Insider that she hired a professional programmer to design her website and she even made the payment of $2,200 from her own pocket.

Of late, she has been conducting interviews of successful people for her website. Being a fan of Apple she read a book penned by Wozniak titled “iWoz” and wanted to interview him as well, thus she sent him an email asking his permission for an interview. However, Woz did not reply, in the mean time Twitter revealed that Woz was in Orlando and hence she asked her dad to reach out to Steve Wozniak.

While speaking to Business Insider, Khemchandani recalled: “I was pretty shocked when he wrote that he would let me interview him. I only had a few minutes to write down a couple of questions and I had no idea what to expect. We met him at the lobby of the Hilton hotel and I took his interview right there. There were a lot of people and it was quite distracting with people taking photos and watching behind me but I think it went pretty well because his insight was amazing. I still think about some of the tips he shared.”

Surprisingly, Wozniak really opened up and gave a detailed insight on various parts of his life including his early school days and even his professional life including his passion for computers!

Wozniak respects and has a special place for all the mentors that he met in his life. During his interview, he specially mentioned that at one point of time, when he was a kid, he even wanted to become a fifth-grade teacher and even now he likes the idea of teaching.

Woz says: “Being a mentor is the primary thing I want to do in the world, because mentors were so important at every step of my life.”

In a way, Wozniak was impressed with Khemchandani’s ReachAStudent which is sort of connecting young students with potential mentors and hence he granted her the permission to interview him and guide the next generation.

The full interview is available in 3 parts and can be accessed from the homepage of Sarina Khemchandani’s website: ReachAStudent.

Some interesting glimpse from her interview has been given here:

Q: Any special memories about his school life.

A: Steve Wozniak just loves to talk about his school life and mentors. He told Khemchandani, that he was interested in mathematics and science, in a way he was “know-it-all” sort of a kid who was curious and always a scholar. Thus he was an “outsider” and his fellow students did not talk much to him. However, he was not a total social failure because he was also good at pranks like normal children do and was a athletic as well as president of clubs.  Woz said that he had sort of made a “computer-like” machine when he was in his 8th grade and he had build this machine for some science fair. Woz said: It ran a program that “makes you never lose at tic-tac-toe … It had about 100 transistors and about 100 diodes. No one at school had ever seen a transistor, it was that advanced.”

Q: How and when did Woz meet Steve Jobs.

A: Woz mentioned that when he was in college he got a job in some computer firm wherein one of the executives found out that Wozniak used to design the computer when he was in high school. But Woz told him he was not able to afford a chip, hence that executive told him he would get the chips if Woz agrees to design a computer. Later, Wozniak designed some computer using the chips and then this executive asked Wozniak that he should meet Steve Jobs who is into electronics and also a person known for playing pranks during the school days.

This executive was Bill Fernandez, who later was also the first employee of Apple, who actually introduced Steve Jobs to Steve Wozniak.

Woz recalled: “Steve came over and we talked about pranks we had done, about electronics, again I was the super designer, he had never really designed anything but he knew about it and that it was important. We talked about life in general where it was going and how people could live counter-culture. He was only 16 years old. I showed him the words to some songs, like Bob Dylan songs. So we became really good friends and five years later, we started Apple.”

Q: What role did Steve Jobs play during the creation of Apple I and Apple II computers.

A: This answer is a total surprise, Steve Wozniak, the tech genius claimed that his business partner, Steve Jobs did not have any hand in the designing of the Apple I computers.

Woz said: “Steve Jobs played no role at all in any of my designs of the Apple I and Apple II computer, and printer interfaces, and serial interfaces, and floppy disks, and stuff that I made to enhance the computers. He did not know technology. He wanted to be important, and the important people are always the business people, so that’s what he wanted to be.”

Woz also mentioned that Apple I computer was designed by him and it was just his “hobby machine”. Apple I was one of the first fully assembled personal computers which was commercially available.

Woz recalled that he did not have much resources available and hence he had designed the software for his first computer, including the Apple I, just by using pen and paper without the help of another computer.

Woz said: “I wrote it all by hand, I wrote my programs by hand on paper, I had no money (for a terminal).”

Tech guru says originally Apple I was sold for mere $666.66 and surprisingly in the present times it has been auctioned at a rate of $668,000!

He said that the success of Apple I led to Apple II computers and even this was brainchild of Wozniak and Apple II was also one of his personal projects which led to a massive success of the company.

“I had already created it, and it was just waiting for a company, and Steve Jobs was my good friend, the businessman,” says Wozniak.

Wozniak says, Jobs was a true businessman and knew how to market and sell the Apple computers, which he did well.

Woz says that by the end of 1980s Apple had sold more than 100,000 Apple II computer systems, which gave the brand its required recognition.

Q: Wozniak’s advice to the upcoming engineers and their “killer ideas”.

A: Woz gave beautiful advice to people across the globe, be it some students or professionals. He said that no matter how ideal and awesome your work is, it will be useful only if the product is good enough to be sold. In other words we can say that a person can build something really awesome but then it is pretty essential to have a medium or a company which can sell this product. So Woz intelligently says ” it’s very important, even if you are not a business man, find someone who is.”

According to Woz, he loved mathematics and science and thus he kept creating things which he later worked on making them better. He believes that people should start making things for themselves and later work on it to make it a better product, this will result in “an idea for a product that the world really needs, even if nobody thinks it does … Everyone is making obvious things and you’ll come up with a totally different thing that does the same job better, or it costs less money.”

Q: What did he prepare himself for: a computer hardware or software and why?

A: Woz says he prepared himself for a computer hardware. He adds that he did not have a personal computer at home as it was too costly and could not even afford it then. But he desperately wanted to have one, so he decided to design a hardware and he started working on it. By studying mathematics and electronics on his own he started designing computer hardware on paper when he was still in high school. His passion for computer made him design the hardware merely by using his imagination. Woz says that he had created so many designs that he was in a position to understand how the software will work on this hardware.

Woz mentioned that he could not afford the computer chip and hence could not build the designs but yes he had a lots of hardware designs already etched in his brains and on the paper. Thus, he tried lots of permutation-combinations, which he thoroughly enjoyed doing and designed various hardware designs which would use fewer parts.

Woz said: “I had tricks on my head to save parts that probably no other human being on earth had. I knew I was good at it. I still didn’t think it was going to be a job in my life. I thought it would only be for fun, my past time.”

During the interview, Wozniak surprised Khemchandani by giving her some gifts that included some of his famous sheets of real $2 bills which he is known to print himself, some metal business cards, some cheap roll up sunglasses and finally he also autographed the computers of Khemchandani and her brother.

It was pretty clear that Steve Wozniak comes from a modest family and that he had a passion for computers right from his young age. Woz also mentioned that always “follow your heart when you pick your school”. Apple was a product of his passion and not an intended “killer product” so just follow your passion and things will find a path for itself says the tech genius Steve Wozniak.

Resource : Business Insider.

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