Steve Wozniak Praises Makers and Open Source

During a keynote at Atlantic Design & Manufacturing 2017, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak shared his thoughts on open source, the Maker movement, and why engineers should build for themselves.

 Steve Wozniak told the audience at Atlantic Design and Manufacturing 2017 he was too busy to watch Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference ( WWDC) this year, although he has in recent years. “I only read about it after the fact,” he told his keynote audience. “In recent years the software has meant a lot more to me than the hardware advancements in terms in how we live our life,” he said, adding sobering remarks as to the latest hardware offerings from the company he co-founded. “I don't remember anything catching my attention particularly,” Wozniak said. “Apple's going to have this little home device [the iHome]...Well, I sleep next to my phone and go, 'Hey Siri, turn the lights on.' "

Steve Wozniak (left) chat with Design News Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Deffree (right) during his keynote at Atlantic Design & Manufacturing 2017. (Image source: Design News).

What does catch Wozniak's attention these days are trends like open source and the maker movement – both of which have grown from ideas and a spirit that he told the audience get right to the heart of why he helped start Apple in the first place. “In our first manual for the Apple II we put in every bit of my designs, software, and examples of other programs,” he said. “And everybody could pick it up and see how they could develop their own plug-in boards and software. It was very open source, and very favorable. A thousand companies started making accessories for the Apple II computer.”

Wozniak continued, “I love the maker movement because we started [Apple] with a demonstrable product,with a prototype that was working. I was not just an engineer, I did the whole thing – I brought up ideas, drafted them on paper, I sat down and plugged chips into boards, tested every single wire..”

A big thing Wozniak stressed to the audience was the importance of doing things for fun and for building things with yourself in mind rather than potential profits. “I've gone step by step in my life building things for fun, but each one of those was a step in my learning – my brain remembered the tricks I came up with to develop something and be proud of it and show it to other people.

“You might go to Maker Faire and you see these things and you might think. 'Who would want to buy that?' But the people making it are getting the skills that could change their job in the future.”

Wozniak said he often does his own DIY projects using Raspberry Pis and similar boards and he acknowledged that were he were coming up today he would no doubt be considered a maker. “I'm pretty sure that I would be with my little Arduino, Raspberry Pis, and $9 C.H.I.P computers, programming motors and making strange things under my control,” he said. “And hopefully I'd have enough brilliance in my software that the devices would start doing semi-intelligent things. I'd be out there just playing around. I never had an intention to start a company with anything


When I worked at Atari Steve was a tech, saying he and his friend at HP were going to build a home PC? Also they did not share HW or SW, they keep it in house.

So what happened with Apple? These days movements like "right to repair" have to shame Apple in at least selling replacement parts. If there would be more willingness across the industry to publish maintenance manuals we would save a lot of e-waste. And yes, companies would sell less gear, but that's the point.

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