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Steve Jobs' death could clear way for more open Apple - Woz

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Apple could be more open and just as successful - but don’t take it from us. That’s from company co-founder and computing idealist Steve Wozniak.

While on a tour of Australia, Woz rekindled memories of the mid-1970s and his dream behind the first Apple computers he built with Steve Jobs. Woz was inspired to speak out after witnessing the, er, “openness” of Facebook and Google.

Woz is reported to have said:

I like a lot of the openness I see in Facebook or Google, and how things can interplay on the Internet. I think that Apple could be just as strong and good and be open, but how can you challenge it when a company is making that much money?

The renowned hardware engineer, who used openly documented components such as the MOS Technology 6502 processor to build those first machines, suggested it was his co-founder and friend Steve Jobs who took Apple down a closed, proprietary and secretive route before his death last year.

Woz is a life-long believer in the power of computers to change people’s lives for the better: his vision behind the Apple I and Apple II was to put computing in the hands of ordinary people at a time when systems were big, bulky and affordable only to big businesses and small governments.

He built the Apple II using off-the-shelf components - the 8-bit 1MHz 6502 CPU with 4K of DRAM and eight internal expansion slots.

Despite his rumination on openness, however, Woz continued it would be a bad thing for Apple and fanbois if it led to inferior products.

“There's a lot of things about the closedness of Apple I don't like and wouldn't have done myself, but obviously I'm very overjoyed with the quality of the products. So is that a result or not? I'm not expert enough to say," he said.

"If making it open would give us not the quality of Apple products all working together like they do, I would say keep it closed."

He thinks that having one person at the top exercising total control helped Apple to succeed, and that this wouldn’t have been the case had Apple used team management or left engineers in charge. He contrasted Apple with working at Hewlett-Packard, where he toiled away before he and Jobs created their fruity tech company.

Quoted here Woz said: "The Macintosh engineering group snuck a secret test board that could actually expand it but Steve Jobs got wind of that and cut it off."

On ZDNet he continued: "Apple products, if you look at them, are very much different, and that is thanks to basically having one mind at the top that would not let them get overly complicated; have good, friendly things for normal human beings and have very few functions that get in the way, but still let you do what you want to do, but not a lot of gizmos." ®

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