Wozniak, Stephen

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Wozniak, Stephen (Gary) (“the Woz”)

(1950–  ) electrical engineer, computer inventor; born in San Jose, Calif. Son of an engineer at Lockheed who worked on satellites, he enrolled at the University of California: Berkeley in 1971, the same year he began to collaborate with another young man, Steven Jobs, in building "blue boxes" that allowed people to make free long-distance calls. They then began to make computers out of borrowed "chips," and working out of a family garage, he and Jobs designed a more "user-friendly" alternative to the new computers being introduced by International Business Machines (IBM). Wozniak was now working for Hewlett-Packard and when that company refused to back the new computer, he and Jobs formed Apple Computer (1976) to make their Apple I. In the ensuing years, Wozniak played a major role in designing later Apple models, Lisa and Macintosh. He took several years off (it is claimed that he suffered from amnesia after crashing in a small plane), returned to Apple in 1983, but left in 1985 after a series of disagreements with Jobs. In 1985 he started a new company, MBF, to explore new possibilities for electronics. He also became involved in other projects, including UNUSON ("unite us in song"), with its goal of eliminating international enmities by using new communication devices. In 1990 he also joined Mitchell Kapor in establishing the Electronic Frontier Foundation to provide legal aid for computer hackers facing criminal prosecution and to research the legal aspects of computer communication.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.