01 Jun Steve Wozniak likes Choice Compass!!
The first time I tried an Apple personal computer, I fell in love.
A few years before that, I had talked my parents into buying a Texas Instruments 99, which I hooked up to the television for a monitor and to which I attached a tape recorder (for memory, of course). I remember programming it to play Fur Elise (something I am sure I was working on for a piano recital), and I was very proud of my accomplishment. It took about 30 minutes of audio tape to record the BASIC program that played the music, but there it was! Of course at school, I did not have access to my amazing toy, so I would stay in during recess to learn how to program the new TRS-80 machines. Their one-inch high keys and curved monitors seemed elegant to me, at the time.
When I was a junior in high school, I visited my boyfriend at Stanford, and he had an Apple computer. There was some color on the monitor box, which was new. There was also this weird device called a “mouse,” and I had to learn how to pick it up and put it back down as the cursor on the screen stayed where it was. It had a built-in disk drive, and it looked so sleek to me. For some reason, the designers had decided to use friendly-looking fonts, black on a white screen, making it easy and fun to read. I was a geek, and I was in love!
My relationship with the Stanford guy didn’t last too long, but my relationship with Apple/Mac hardware has lasted for three decades. Sometimes I think it’s out of loyalty to the original brilliance of the design of those early computers that I stick with Mac machines. In any case, my two idols since the 80’s have been the two Steves: Jobs and Wozniak. What they did was to make computing more accessible for everyone, especially students and teachers. What a gift to the world!
So I was returning home from giving a talk about my work to the folks at Google[x], and who was standing next to me at the baggage claim but the Woz! I was so nervous to talk with him, but I gathered up my courage and showed him Choice Compass. I explained how it worked, and he said, “Oh that’s so cool! It looks so nice, too!” He asked for the name again, so he could write it down. I was THRILLED, and even more so after he gave me his business card (which is made out of brushed metal, of course, and has an old IBM punch card rendition of his phone number on it).
After showing me his vacuum-tube watch that shows the user the time only when it’s at a certain angle (which is adjustable) and showing off his beeping luggage as it came out of the baggage claim area, he told me about what he does with his days. He talks, teaches computing, and does philanthropy. I felt like I had just been given a gift…I found out that my idol is just as kind, cool, creative, and friendly as I expected. AND, he likes Choice Compass!!!!