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I listened to a great talk by Woz today. It's long, about two hours (link is to the page to download it from, two parts), but worth every minute of it. It's fascinating and inspiring to hear someone so brilliant and who accomplished something so fundamentally important to all of us talk about how he got to the place where he could do that.

"Atoms before molecuies." He discusses how in his childhood he would experiment with diodes and capacitors and the like that he scraped up from neighbors or wherever he could find them. He'd assemble them to see what he could make them do. He knows now, if he didn't then, that he had to learn the basics first, the atoms, to master them completely, before he could move on to assembling the molecules we all take for granted today.

As he mastered one concept, he'd build on it, assembling more and more complex things, until he eventually mastered microchips and microprocessors, and video displays (he discovered how to send computer output to a television screen just through his own tinkering) and floppy controllers and found himself making the first Apple computers.

He makes it sound easy, almost accidental, passive even. But he gives hints that belie that idea. He probably didn't think of it at the time, but he at least senses it now, that he was systematically building up an understanding that would lead to something great. He was integrating the micro world of electrons, and he was doing it with a determined sense of purpose, even if that purpose was defined as only possibilities and "what ifs".

So I have to wonder if this was what he thought his hard work would amount to. It's utterly pointless and silly, but after hearing Woz's story, I bet he'd be tickled that he gave us the ability to have it.


Yeah that's the concept I believe in too - start up small and build your way up. I'm trying to stick to that philoshopy in my life..

Posted by RC at Friday, December 16, 2005 11:27 PM

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