Steve Wozniak is an American engineer, inventor, programmer and technopreneur whose contributions to technology pioneered the revolution of personal computers.
He is the lesser-known founder of the giant tech company, Apple Inc, but unlike the late most-known founder Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak’s wealth is far from billions and is estimated at a mere $100 million. Here’s why.
Steve Wozniak Biography
Steve Gary Wozniak was born on August 11, 1950, in San Jose, California. His father, Francis Jerry Wozniak, was an electrical engineer while his mother, Margaret Louise Kern was a homemaker. As a kid, Woz (which he is popularly called) had a knack for electronics and would always build workable devices from scratch.
His love for computers as well as his efficiency in handling them developed as he grew. He attended University of Colorado Boulder but was expelled after just one year in 1969 for hacking into the college computer system. Wozniak then attended De Anza College and later the University of California, Berkeley, where he finally graduated with an Engineering degree in 1986.
Before graduating from college, Wozniak had a 10-year stint at Hewlett-Packard where he worked on a mainframe computer. During this period, high school student Steve Jobs landed a summer job with the same company, and it wasn’t long before the two Steves met and became friends through a mutual friend Bill Fernandez who attended the same high school with Jobs.
Steve Wozniak and The Apple Computer
Wozniak and Jobs became closer and began working together. Wozniak built his first working computer prototype in 1975 and in 1976 he single-handedly developed the entire technology for the very first Apple laptop called Apple 1 in Job’s bedroom and garage. Apple 1 was the first laptop to use a keyboard and a normal TV screen for display. Together with Jobs and Ronald Wayne as the administrative supervisor, the trio on April 1, 1976, founded Apple Computer to enable them to sell the computers. Jobs was more skilled in marketing than in tech innovation.
The successful sales of Apple 1 marked the beginning of a new status for the team. They sold each Apple 1 laptop for $666.66 with their first client being Paul Terrell who bought 50 pieces for his new computer shop named Byte Shop in California. The rapid sales of the Apple 1 made available more funds for Wozniak to intensify and develop his inventions. He then built the Apple 11 which became the first personal computer to use the colour display as well as the first mass-produced personal computer which enjoyed massive sale success.
Wozniak was inactive in Apple for two years from 1981 following a fatal jet crash of which he was the pilot. After recovering from injuries which included the inability to create new memories, he returned to Apple in 1983, the same year the stock value of Apple soared to $985 million. However, two years later, Wozniak left Apple stating that the company was the “bane of his existence”. He sold most of his stocks but maintained a few, he also benefits from an annual paycheck of $120,000.
Post-Apple and Wheels of Zeus (WOZ)
It was after Wozniak quit Apple in 1985 that he went back to college to obtain an Engineering degree in 1986. He then taught computer science to children in the 5th – 9th grade and even teachers. In 1987, Wozniak founded a startup called CL 9 which developed and sold the first programmable universal remote control.
With the aim of developing wireless GPS technology, Wozniak in 2001 founded a venture called Wheels of Zeus (WOZ). He closed Wheels of Zeus in 2006 to form a holding company called Acquicor Technology with two other former Apple employees. The company acquired tech companies and startups with the aim of developing them. Wozniak has offered tech advice to a number of companies including Scottevest. In 2009, he became the chief scientist of Utah’s Fusion-io, a data storage and server company.
Wozniak’s Recent Works, Earnings, House
Beginning in 2011, Wozniak began delivering speeches at numerous technology summits and conferences. In 2012 he applied for citizenship in Australia. Sometime in August 2016, Wozniak went on a speaking tour in Australia. As of 2014, he became an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
Wozniak from March 2016 became an Innovator in Residence at High Point University, North Carolina. In addition to his Engineering degree, he has received a number of honorary engineering degrees from schools in the United States and outside the United States.
Talking about his net worth with the knowledge that he co-founded Apple Inc, the world foremost in the iPhone technology would make you want to hear billions of dollars. But forget it, he is estimated to be worth $100 million. Put that side by side with the wealth of his partner Steve Jobs, which was around $10.2 billion before his death in 2011 and you just keep wondering why he left the company in the first instance.
Steve once owned a fine house in Los Gatos, California. He designed and built the impressive home in 1986 and later sold it in 2009 for $3.1 million. Among other features, the house sports six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, a swimming pool and a fireplace.
Spouse and Children
Woz has been married four times. He was first married to Alice Robertson in 1976. They first had contact through his Dial-A-Joke service when Alice called him to hear a joke. They were, however, divorced in 1980 as Wozniak’s dedication to the Apple project meant less time for his family. They had no children in the four years they spent together.
Moving on from Alice, Woz started dating US Olympic Slalom Canoe gold-medalist, Candice Carson Clark. She was a staff of the Apple Corporation at the time. They got married in 1981 and the union produced three children – Jesse John Wozniak, Stephen Gary Wozniak, and Sara Nadine Wozniak. The marriage lasted six years and ended in a divorce in 1987.
It took three years after the divorce for Woz to fall in love again. This time it was with his childhood friend and schoolmate, Suzanne Mulkern. Suzanne was a legal practitioner when they met and married in 1990. She came into the marriage with three children of her own and after fourteen years, the union crashed in 2004 without kids.
Wozniak had an affair with Kathy Griffin in 2007 before getting secretly married to his fourth and current wife, Janet Hill in August 2008 with no relatives or friends in attendance. Janet was with Apple Inc as an education development executive. They are not divorced and they have had no kids together yet.