Steve Wozniak: Human Over Technology

Maintaining a creed of human over technology has served Apple and its co-founder Steve Wozniak well over the last four decades. In this Q&A, Wozniak discusses how making technology work for people brought about the Apple II and shares his thoughts on arti
Steve Wozniak will take the stage on June 13, in New York, during Atlantic Design & Manufacturing. Register for the event here !

Flash back to 1977. A young Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs head to the West Coast Computer Faire and premier the Apple II, their new machine with the ability to display color graphics and with a comparatively low price point that what would quickly become the first mainstream personal computer following the trade show.

Wozniak was largely responsible for the design of the Apple II, which he laid out with an open architecture, sharing the design elements with other engineers, and including multiple expansion slots to permit third-party devices. It was a machine designed for people, to be human-relatable and work as they worked, opposed to focusing on technology.

Maintaining a creed of human over technology has served Wozniak and Apple well over the last four decades. Indeed, history proves that most of Apple’s biggest successes came when the company followed this creed – like the Apple II, the Macintosh, and the App Store – and its biggest failures came when it dishonored that thinking – as with the Apple III, a computer design heavily influenced by Apple’s marketing department.

Now 40 years after the Apple II debuted, Wozniak chatted with Design News about the world-changing computer and how it and Apple brought humanity to machines through its design.

Beyond Apple, Wozniak shared his thoughts on other factors of technology that lend human to machine, including artificial intelligence, robotics, sharing knowledge through open-source design, and advancing medical breakthroughs.

What follows is an excerpt of a conversation between Wozniak and Design News (DN). Wozniak will discuss these topics and more during a keynote at Atlantic Design & Manufacturing , a conference and expo event this June hosted in New York by Design News ’ parent company UBM. Register to hear from Wozniak live at the event here .


DN: In your biography, “ iWoz,” you discuss how you knew when you were young that you wanted to work on computers—that was your desired prime focus area. If you were starting out now, what would you want to work on?

Wozniak: Back then it was more like this is going to be my passion for life and a hobby. I didn’t actually think I would ever work on computers. I didn’t think they were jobs. I though engineers did other things.

It’s a difficult question that I get asked a lot. Does it mean that I am here today with the same interests I had then or am I back then? It’s hard to really tell what the question is. But I’m pretty sure I would have wound up stumbling [into] electronics again. I’d probably be wiring up modern day, do-it-yourself, maker-type things. I’d probably be connecting small little Raspberry Pis and motors and trying to make little devices that move around and are programable. Who knows?

Robotics offers up a lot of considerations. As you grow up, it’s really later in life that you begin to study physics


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