Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writing again

I'm back to writing again. My 85 year old mother has come to visit from England but she's gone off for a tour of the North Island so I've been back to work writing. I've been working on the section about Steve Wozniak and the birth of Apple. What an interesting and unusual guy. I came across a remarkable story during my research about Jobs and Woz where Jobs defrauded Woz (that's really the only way you can describe it) of several thousand dollars. Woz found out but remained friends with Jobs!  Here's an extract from my book:

However, another business opportunity came along once again involving Steve Jobs. Now working for Atari, Jobs was involved with designing a circuit board for the Breakout game. You remember the game that you had to bat a ball against a wall with a paddle and once you hit the wall enough times in the same place you could knock a hole through. Now back then computer games were sold not as software like today but as a piece of hardware in a module that you plugged into the game console.

To reduce the cost of the modules Atari wanted a design with as few chips on as possible. Jobs subcontracted his work to Woz. Sound familiar? The master of efficient design had a project he could sink his teeth into. Jobs had negotiated a bonus from Atari. $100 for each chip removed from the design. Woz astounded Atari by reducing the design by 50 chips earning them $5000. However, Woz didn’t get his full share for reasons that tell us a lot about both men.

Jobs told Woz that Atari had given him a bonus of $700 for the job which he split 50:50 with Woz giving him $350. Woz subsequently found out that his friend had got $5000 from Atari and he’d been short changed by $2150. That’s still a lot of money and was a lot more in the 70s. Now if my “friend” had ripped me off to the tune of over two grand I’d be pretty mad and I’m fairly sure our friendship would be over. Woz however, says in his autobiography that he didn’t understand why Jobs had lied to him about the money, and though he was hurt he didn’t see it as a good reason to end the friendship. His decision to be so magnanimous paid itself back big time, since had he dumped Jobs he wouldn’t have co-founded Apple and become a multi-millionaire. Think about Woz next time someone does you wrong.

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