2014年12月11日 星期四

Steve Wozniak: His Career Challenges, Steve Jobs, Tech Trends and Advice【名人】

Steve Wozniak: His Career Challenges, Steve Jobs, Tech Trends and Advice

Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak is best known as the co-founder of Apple AAPL -0.33% Computer, which helped shape the personal computer industry with the popular Macintosh. For his achievements at Apple Computer, Steve was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the highest honor bestowed on America’s leading innovators.

In 2000, Steve was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. He is also the author of iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon.
In this interview, he talks about his biggest career challenges, what his typical day looks like, what he admired most about the late Steve Jobs, the biggest trend in technology right now and his top pieces of career advice.
Looking back at your career, what would you say your three biggest challenges were? How did you overcome them?
1. Creating a color computer that was an entertainment machine too. Color had never been done digitally. There was no digital formula in any book. Color generation cost a lot of money by the established ways. I got an idea of how to do it with a $1 digital chip and I knew that the analog TV’s would interpret this as color.
2. Creating a PAL version of the Apple ][, doing color the PAL way. To save parts I had played with such parameters as video timing. That was fine for NTSC but in PAL, each line has alternating phases for the same color. It's like 'inverting' the signal on odd lines, or shifting it in time by 180 degrees of the color waveform frequency. This I accomplished and got to work. But for the Apple ][ hi-res mode, color was very much an accident of when a dot occurred on a line. If it was in an odd pixel position on an odd line number, it was purple, otherwise green. But line numbers and pixel position would reverse this. And then I had a scheme where shifting the dot a half-pixel position gave 2 more colors.
I was sure that by the laws of math and physics and how PAL was defined, color would not work, especially the advanced 6-color mode. The even lines would be cancelled out by the odd lines and all you'd see was green and purple mixed. But for some reason, it worked without my understanding why. To this day I do not know why it worked since my own analysis was that it would not work.
3. Writing BASIC for my 6502 microprocessor. I had never taken a class in programming language development although I’d seen some book pages on it. I had never programmed in BASIC. But I could sniff the winds and saw that BASIC would be key to people adopting computers in their homes, due to books of computer games written in BASIC. This was because many schools had BASIC terminals that connected to time sharing services. I started by studying the BASIC language. I used an HP manual at work. I assumed that BASIC was BASIC but HP BASIC was actually very different from that programmed by Bill Gates and used in the computer games.
I then thought and thought of how to organize my language. I knew enough to create a syntax chart of what commands and elements were acceptable in what order. I then decided that I could trace each character of an input line through this syntax chart, looking for good matches (or ERROR). I knew plenty about operators and operands, as our HP calculators worked on RPN (Reverse Polish Notation). By testing concepts on paper I came up with a ‘noun’ stack (operators like numbers and variable names) and ‘verb’ stack (every other element in the syntax chart). As a statement was executed, verbs would be applied in the same order we organized our calculator formula solutions. Each ‘verb’ had one small routine, knowing where any needed ‘nouns’ were on the noun stack. It sounds naive but it was very ordered and structured and easy to finish in short time. Each operator got its own small routine, written in machine language. I did pull out floating point operations only to save a month’s time and be the first with a 6502 BASIC so I’d get known a bit like Bill Gates had.
4. Floppy disk. I had never worked on any sort of disk hardware or software, including operating systems. I had never studied them either. I threw out an outrageous proposal to design a floppy disk interface for our Apple ][ computer. If I created it in 2 weeks, I had a free ticket to Las Vegas with Apple’s marketing department for CES. I studied the drive from Shugart. I had a host of wires going in carrying signals signifying what to do and the floppy drive would do it. Things like “write this byte” and “move to track 10″. I analyzed all their 20 chips and came to the conclusion that they were all unneeded. Basic principles of magnetic storage were the basis of my design. I just had to provide an receive the data from the disk, and step some motors to change tracks. I managed to write and read 0′s and 1′s after a week but had no way to know where bytes or fields of bytes started. I wasn’t sure I could solve this. But knowing my detection circuitry I was able to come up with special codes that were not data but caused the reader to synchronize on the start of a byte.
In later years I had other challenges and some I could not succeed at, such as a GPS location tag that was small, inexpensive and used very little battery energy.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
These days, it’s a lot of flying, email, sleep, speaking. When I have spare time I catch up on things I’ve had to postpone due to lack of time. If I’m travelling (most of the time) and have a free day, I often meet with fans just to be friendly.
If you could pick one thing you most admired about Steve Jobs what would it be?
His drive toward the future no matter how unachievable it seemed. Also, his ability to listen to outstanding engineers.
What do you believe is the biggest trend in technology right now and why is it so important?

I believe that it’s in the voice area. I believe this because it has taken over my mobile preference for any places I can speak commands or questions. I feel that I don’t have to work as hard or use my mind to remember procedures to get what I want answered or done. I think that this will start getting very huge in a few years. There is a lot to go in order for our machines to make better sense of what we say so this is a wide open area for innovation in natural language understanding.
What are your top pieces of advice for young professionals who are just starting out in their careers?
Don’t worry that you can’t seem to come up with sure billion dollar winners at first. Just do projects for yourself for fun. You’ll get better and better. If you try to make such projects, unseen by others, as perfect as any human could, you’ll develop skills that other professionals don’t have.
Don’t give up your free time to partying. You can make something big when young that will carry you through life. Look at all the big startups like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They were all started by very young people who stumbled on something of unseen value. You’ll know it when you hit a home run.
Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career expert and the founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting company. He is also the #1 international bestselling author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future and was named to the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list in 2010. Subscribe to my updates: Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.




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