Monday, March 16, 2009

Woz Dances to a Different Beat

Most all of you must be familiar with Steve Wozniak (personal site, Wikipedia article), legendary personal computer designer and Apple Computer co-founder. "Woz" has long been one of my hardware-design idols, alongside geniuses such as Seymour Cray (R.I.P.).

I've followed Woz's trajectory for a long time. I've seen him speak a couple of times, including as a featured guest at the Synopsys Users Group conference a couple of years ago. As a hardware engineer, you can't help but love Woz. He is truly a gifted designer, and his enthusiasm and passion are clear and sincere.

As Apple co-founder, he's a pretty wealthy guy, which gives him the luxury of pursuing whatever wild idea strikes his fancy. He's had a couple of brushes with pop culture (dating an actress/comedianne), but came out in a big way last week with an appearance on Dancing With the Stars.

You can see his debut here Wow! Woz continues to command my respect as a passionate engineer with absolutely no pretense. I can't help but laugh and wonder if this is the best "15 minutes of fame" moment for an electrical engineer, though. Rolling in on a Segway? Pink Boa? Ah, Woz, you really don't care what others think, do you? I love and respect you for that.

Tonight is his second appearance on DWTS. Hopefully it won't be his last. Check him out. And, in solidarity with our engineering brethren everywhere, give him your support. It would be sweet if some hackers got into the phone system and pumped up the votes for his performance. [the roots of Woz's technology wizardry began with "phreaking" phone systems to get free long-distance phone calls!]

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