Some fun facts on Woz
Suzanne Deffree - April 13, 2011
Working at EDN and other STEM-focused brands for more than a decade now, makes you see the world in a different way. More inquisitive, yes. Much more respectful of intelligence, certainly. And, perhaps foremost, working with STEM professionals gives one a much greater appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, not to mention all the gadgets and gizmos used in daily life.
But it also makes you perceive people differently than the mainstream crowd does, especially people held in high public opinion. I could care less about hearing what a politician has to say. Hollywood bores me to tears. And I have no desire to meet whoever the latest rock star is (especially if the Bieber craze is still going on).
Instead, my meaning of rock star is more in line with the old Intel campaign and Woz is, in my opinion, the Jim Morrison/Jimi Hendrix/Joan Jett/whoever-you-like rock star of the tech world.
I’ve followed his career for decades, but have never been able to catch him in person. Now, thanks to EDN’s new parent company UBM, he’ll be keynoting ESC Silicon Valley in just a few weeks. My plane leaves New York on Monday morning and sets down in San Jose just in time for EDN’s Innovation Awards that evening, celebrating many industry rock stars in their own right, and a day before Woz takes the ESC stage.
When I say, “I’m going to see Woz in a few weeks,” to a friend, their response is something like, “Oh, when did you get tickets to the musical Oz? I didn’t know that was back on Broadway.” Then we get into who Steve Wozniak is and when they, as they usually do, shrug with disinterest as I start to list Woz’s many accomplishments (”He founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs, he’s been awarded the National Medal of Technology, was a founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, has been giving his time, money, and resources to various not-for-profit organizations for more than 30 years …). But, alas, mainstream knows more about Bieber’s hair than it does about the folks who make their cell phones ring, their PCs turn on, or their iPods play.
I’m excited to see Woz speak in person. I did some research on Woz, as I would do before seeing anyone keynote a major industry event, and found a few things I did not know about him.
Here are some Woz fun facts for your enjoyment:
- Woz turned 60 last August. His wife threw him a surprise party, themed “Woz 6.0,” at the tech Museum. His wife also commissioned a song “That’s Woz” in honor of the milestone birthday by Jonathan Mann, the YouTube sensation that also wrote the Antennagate song in the wake of Apple’s iPhone 4 user issues.
- When Woz returned to the University of California, Berkley, to complete his degree after dropping out to co-found Apple, he re-enrolled under the name “Rocky Raccoon Clark” to avoid recognition.
- The “Great and Powerful Woz” has been a category on Jeopardy.
- Woz could have his own star on Hollywood boulevard just for TV guest appearances. He has appeared on The Big bang Theory, as well as Dancing with the Stars and The Colbert Report, among other shows.
- Woz plays Segway polo for the Silicon Valley Aftershocks. One of his teammates made his Woz 6.0 birthday cake.
- The top of his personal Web site’s homepage reads “Welcome to a free exchange of information, the way it always should be.”
And here’s a bonus that I was not able to confirm: Named among his favorite restaurant is Bob’s Big Boy. Why? Not sure, but Woz seems to have a thing for the number 2. He’s reportedly purchased press sheets of perforated $2 bills from the US Mint and created scratch pads out of them. The letter B in simple alphabet code equals 2 and this restaurant chain has three “2s” right in its name.
The first week in April will be a busy one for me. The day after Woz is Cary Eskow, Avnet’s LED guru, at EDN’s Designing with LEDs Seminar and Hands-on Workshop, held in conjunction with ESC. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Cary keynote in person many times before. He’s an amazingly engaging speaker whose true passion for his work shines through in every word.
Then at ESC on Thursday is Jeri Ellsworth, a self-taught chip designer who helped bring Pac Man back to my living room in 2004 with the Commodore 30-in-1 Direct to TV.
Too bad you can’t take a lighter on planes anymore. I’d be in the keynote audiences holding up a Zippo flame for these folks. Info on their keynotes is below. Hope to see you there.
Woz: Tues, May 3 - 9:30am, ESC Silicon Valley, McEnery Convention Center
Cary: Wednesday, May 3, 9:15am, Designing with LEDs Seminar and Hands-on Workshop, San Jose Marriott Hotel
Jeri: Thursday, May 5, 9:30am, ESC Silicon Valley, McEnery Convention Center
UPDATE, 4/22/2011: Woz’s wife Janet saw this blog post and was kind enough to e-mail more details (she also posted comments below). She notes that she and Woz go to the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank and call it “B6″ because there are six Bs if you add Burbank. She was also kind enough to forward this post to Woz’s buddy Alex who made the “Woz 6.0″ cake. Here’s an image of the cake, details for which can be found at www.monkeyshinecakes.com in the blog section. Thanks to Janet and Alex for the additional information!