Wozniak: “It Was as if My Whole Life Had Been Leading Up to this Point”

(p. 155) It was as if my whole life had been leading up to this point. I’d done my minicomputer redesigns. I’d done data on–screen with Pong and Breakout., and I’d already done a TV terminal. From the Cream Soda Computer and others, I knew how to connect memory and make a working system. I realized that all I needed was this Canadian processor or another processor like it and (p. 156) some memory chips. Then I’d have the computer I’d always wanted!

Oh my god. I could build my own computer, a computer I could own and design to do any neat things I wanted to do with it for the rest of my life.
I didn’t need to spend $400 to get an Altair–which really was just a glorified bunch of chips with a metal frame around it and some lights. That was the same as my take-home salary, I mean, come on. And to make the Altair do anything interesting, I’d have to spend way, way more than that. Probably hundreds, even thousands of dollars. And besides, I’d already been there with the Cream Soda Computer. I was bored with it then. You never go back. You go forward. And now, the Cream Soda Computer could be my jumping-off point.
No way was I going to do that. I decided then and there I had the opportunity to build the complete computer I’d always wanted. I just needed any microprocessor, and I could build an extremely small computer I could write programs on. Programs like games, and the simulation programs I wrote at work. The possibilities went on and on. And I wouldn’t have to buy an Altair to do it. I would design it. all by myself.
That night, the night of that first meeting, this whole vision of a kind of personal computer just popped into my head. All at once. Just like that.

Wozniak, Steve, and Gina Smith. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006.

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