Saturday, June 12, 2010

iWoz

Finally read all of iWoz, the autobiography of Steve Wozniak, designer of the Apple ][ personal computer. Many of the anecdotes in his life were already familiar to me, but what stood out for me was how several of his proudest hacks were completed under extreme time pressure. It seems like the human brain has something akin to adrenaline that lets us think quickly and clearly when pressured, and I think all experienced engineers would've called upon this well at one point or another.


I do envy those who were in the Valley during those heady days, though. While there are still wildly innovative things to be done in this industry (I think the era of intensely-personal computers like the iPhone is just beginning), it's nearly impossible for a couple of friends to pull it off from nothing. Just a few years after 2000, the main goal of many start-ups already shifted from striking it rich by invention to getting bought out by a Yahoo! or Google. The iPhone App Store briefly brought back the excitement that a one-person outfit could hit it big, but bigger companies are no longer as lumbering as those of Woz's day.