Garage Band

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Lyons; Dan Lyons writes about technology for Newsweek.

Steve Wozniak built a motherboard. Steve Jobs built a business. The seeds of Apple's triumph.

They began as outlaws. In 1971, 16-year-old Steve Jobs and his 20-year-old pal Steve Wozniak were a pair of longhaired hackers making devices that let people crack the phone system and make free long-distance calls. It was dangerous business: one customer robbed them at gunpoint.

They'd met in the garage of a mutual friend and struck up a friendship based on their shared interest in prank playing, electronics, and Bob Dylan. Over the next few years they developed a videogame for Atari, where Jobs had landed a job, and designed a low-cost computer terminal that they sold to a local company. Jobs sometimes lived in the Bay Area but at other times drifted off to a commune in Oregon.

Wozniak went to work at HP as an engineer, designing calculators. In 1976, in his spare time, he designed a circuit board that hobbyists could use to build a primitive personal computer. He offered the schematic at no cost to anyone who wanted to build a computer. Jobs recognized it could be a business.

To scrape up some working capital, Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak sold an HP calculator. On this shoestring budget, Apple Computer sprang to life in 1976 in the garage of the modest ranch house in Los Altos, Calif., where Jobs lived with his parents.

"We just figured we could have a business of our own and make a living, have a little income," recalls Wozniak. "We were penniless."

They called the circuit board the Apple I; in their first year they sold 150 of them. Their first hire was a 14-year-old kid named Randy Wigginton who earned $2.50 an hour writing software. "I was there in the couch days--before we were even big enough for a garage," says Wigginton, who left Apple in 1985 but still works in Silicon Valley. …