In 1975, Steve Jobs worked for Atari. That year, the up-and-coming tech wizard was assigned the project of designing a prototype for a video game called Breakout. That’s right. Believe it or not, Jobs played a part in the history and development of Breakout, one of Atari’s earliest classics.
For the project, Jobs was asked to design the prototype. He was offered $750, with the incentive of an extra $100 for each chip that was worked out of the design. Jobs had four days to complete the task.
A Tech Breakout
Jobs’ friend, Steve Wozniak (the other Steve), worked at Hewlett-Packard (HP) at the time. “Woz,” as Jobs called him, made compact designs with a small number of chips. Jobs thought the two could work together on the hardware design and split the $750. Wozniak got to work. But instead of sketching out a design (as was common for the time), Woz made his by interpreting the game simply from the description.
To save on parts, Wozniak (who was way ahead of day) used tricks that most engineers couldn’t understand. But after not sleeping for 4 days and eliminating 50 chips from Jobs’ original design, Woz met the deadline. Although his design was ultimately not used because of its complexity, the project built the foundation for a working partnership that would change the world.
On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne formed Apple with an idea. They would create and sell a personal computer kit called the Apple 1. Wozniak built each Apple 1 by hand and the kits were later unveiled to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. But the very first Apple wasn’t even something you would consider as an “Apple Computer” by today’s standards. In fact, it was just a motherboard; it came with no keyboard or monitor.
The Apple I computer went on sale in July 1976 and was sold for $666.67 (that’s $2,572 in 2011 dollars). As he would later recall, Woz came up with that price, “Because I like repeating digits.”
Steve Wozniak speaks of his friend Steve Jobs’ passing and the early days of Apple.
Steve Woniak is still actively involved in the tech community – and even though he doesn’t work full time for Apple Inc., he still receives a paycheck from the company. In 2001, he co-founded Wheels of Zeus (WoZ) to create wireless GPS technology that would, “Help everyday people find everyday things.” He had reconnected with Jobs in recent years and the two remained friends until Jobs’ death in October 2011.
Today, high school kids are learning app development with a mind toward creating the future. They’re the next generation of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniaks. And someday they may also look back fondly on the friendships and amazing memories they made over microchips.
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