Stephen Gary Wozniak, better known as “Woz,” is considered one of the world’s most famous introverts. In popular culture, he is referred to as ‘The Brains Behind Apple‘ and the “Father of the Personal Computer Revolution.” The American electronics engineer, computer programmer, philanthropist, and technology entrepreneur has done more than coming up with tech concepts that have revolutionized the world. He has also engineered a formula for happiness that states that happiness equals smiles minus frowns, “H=S-F.”
One of the ways he lives up to his Wozdom is making others happy by making significant contributions to charitable causes, some of which have cost him 80% of his net worth. That’s not something you hear every day, is it? His net worth is estimated to be $140 million. Sit tight, and let’s get to know more about the secret life of this genius who sold virtually all his bitcoin holdings when the price skyrocketed to record levels.
His Early Years
Jerry Wozniak, a mechanical engineer, and his wife Margaret Wozniak, a homemaker, welcomed Wozniak into the world on August 11, 1950, in San Jose, California, as their first child. He grew up with a fondness for reading books. As a fifth-grade student, Wozniak was inspired by a book about ham radio operators and he went on to build his own radio transmitter and receiver from a kit. Later in his high school years, he won various awards including a blue ribbon for designing a binary adding and subtracting computer and an award as the best math student. During his junior year at the University of California, Berkeley, with the help of Steve Jobs, he designed a “little blue box” for making unauthorized free phone calls. They made $150, selling them to other students.
Woz then met Alice Robertson after she called to hear a joke through his Dial-a-joke service he was famously known for. Following several dates, they began a relationship that led to marriage. By 1977, Wozniak was refining his own computer design and created the Apple I and Apple II computers alongside Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne. Together they founded Apple Inc, and they assembled the first order of 50 computers in the Jobs’ family garage in Silicon Valley. In 1980, when the firm went public, it had a market value of over $1 billion, making it the fastest corporation in history to reach that financial milestone. Meanwhile, Wozniak’s commitment to Apple meant less time for his family; it wasn’t long until he divorced Alice after four years of marriage with no children.
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During a flight from New York to Los Angeles in February 1981, Wozniak’s plane crashed, almost killing everyone on board. His dissatisfaction with Apple management and the near-death experience caused him to reevaluate his priorities. Four months later, he married Clark and decided to take a leave of absence from Apple to return to college. Wozniak went to Berkeley to acquire a computer science degree under the alias “Rocky Clark.” He dropped out when he was a few credits short of graduation but obtained equivalency credits for work he had done at Apple.
Wozniak founded Unuson, an acronym for ‘unite us in song’, in 1982 with the assistance of veteran concert organizer Bill Graham. It sponsored two festivals to commemorate the advancement of technology. Unfortunately, after suffering a substantial financial loss during the festival, he discontinued his engagement with rock festivals and returned to computer design. Wozniak returned to Apple product development later in the year.
At Apple, he began working on a new computer called the Lisa, which would later be renamed the Macintosh. It came equipped with a mouse, folders, pull-down menus, and a picture-display screen. The development of the Macintosh led to more friction between the department led by Jobs and the Apple II department. However, after the creation of Macintosh, President Ronald Reagan awarded Wozniak the National Medal of Technology. Apple’s shifting priorities led to his departure as well as that of co-founder Steve Jobs in that same year. He still has a ceremonial function at Apple and gets a
Life After Apple
Wozniak’s partial retirement from Apple didn’t stop him from supporting new businesses and occasionally working as an advisor or board member for other companies. Wozniak and Candi Clark were married for six years and had three children: Jesse, Sara, and Gary. They divorced in 1987. In 1989, he met Suzanne Mulkern, a mother of three, who shared his shyness, love of children, and sense of humor. They got married in 1990 and were together for 14 years before their romance crumbled in 2004. In 2009, he was promoted to chief scientist at Fusion-Io, an American firm that manufactures high-capacity solid-state storage systems. After SanDisk acquired Fusion-Io in 2014, Wozniak departed the company to become chief scientist at Primary Data, which was interested in data virtualization at the time of the acquisition. The business closed in 2018.
Wozniak has provided all the money, as well as a good amount of on-site technical support, for the technology program in his local school district. As a supporter of the arts, he has also funded the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Children’s Discovery Museum, and the San Jose-Cleveland Ballet. Wozniak now lives in Los Gatos, California, and is married to Janet Hill. He spends his time teaching children about the wonders of computers.
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Sources: CNBC, Wikipedia, biography, Wired
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