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Woz Talks About His Gaming Past

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the world-of-wozcraft dept.

Apple 64

Gamasutra has up a rare article with founding Apple visionary Steve Wozniak about his love of games, and his history with the medium. The article discusses Woz's prototype for the title Breakout prior to his involvement with Apple, the gaming habits of Steve Jobs, and the influence that videogames have had on the personal computing industry. " The reason Atari wanted me to design [Breakout] is they were tired of their games taking 150, 200 chips, and they knew I designed things with very few chips, so we had incentives for getting it under 50 or under 40 chips. That was my forte. Now I designed it, but it was... To save parts, I'll make no part go to waste and have tricky little designs that are hard for just a simple engineer to follow. Once you understand it, it's very easy because there's so few parts, it's easier to understand. But they had trouble understanding it."

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For someone with such a reputation... (1, Insightful)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992011)

For someone with such a reputation you would expect him to be more interesting.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18992077)

Woz is interesting. It's the interviewer who is boring.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992189)

That's what I'd expect... but every time I see or read about the guy it's a snooze.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992419)

Not everyone can be like totally k-rad 31337 or whatever.

I attended a talk he gave a talk at HOPE a couple of years ago. It was very interesting, and you could have heard the proverbial pin drop in the packed hall, so I'm not the only one who thought so.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992219)

I thought neither was horribly exciting, but what irked me was on the first page of TFA.

I guess they were a pretty small company at the time.

SW: Yeah. They seemed huge to me, this was the center of arcade games, you know, video arcade games for the world. That was "the company." So it seemed large. I don't know how you judge what's large and what isn't.

Well I was mostly talking about the number of employees, I guess.

SW: Yeah. You've got the factory floor and you'd see one new game just lined up, cabinet after cabinet after cabinet, long lines of the same game. It was interesting to see.


In the second reply, after the guy mentioned that the people were his real interest, the the inanimate physical assets of the company, Woz just starts talking about the inanimate assets some more, as if the people weren't even important.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992435)

He was saying "yeah, maybe that is how you judge the size of a company, but one of the reasons it seemed huge to me was..."

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

osgeek (239988) | more than 7 years ago | (#18994701)

Maybe seeing lots of people grouped together wasn't particularly unique in his experience at the time, but seeing rows upon rows of videogame cabinets was?

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992507)

It looks to me more like TFA just wasn't an interview done for print media. It was a back and forth converstion, so the answers were short. I think the portion we get to read probably only took a few minutes, unless the reporter was awestruck or woefully unprepared. But it does portray Woz as a guy who's easy to talk to.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992183)

If you ever get the chance, talk to the guy. He'll frighten you with his interestingness.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (4, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992271)

He'll frighten you with his interestingness
and giant centipedes

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19006499)

They're not THAT big.

Sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18992497)

but he is interesting.

He is an example of what folks can do when they focus. And I mean focus because of passion not because it's the thing to do.

Unfortunately, we're taught in school that we need to be "well rounded", i.e. dabblers. Unfortunately, dabblers are destined to mediocrity - suburban America, corporate job, 1.8 kids, Suburban assault vehicle, soccer sticker on back, etc....

Those who didn't buy into the lie of "well rounded", "get good grades and excel", blah blah blah, are the current captains of industry, real artists, and I can't think of any statesmen these days.

Quitting now because I'm starting to sound like a late night infomercial....

Re:Sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18992715)

Yeah. Francis Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle—bunch of mediocre dabblers, all of them. It's sad that they didn't have enough focus to accomplish something! Personally, I'm proud of my complete ignorance of all fields except my own.

Re:Sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18993439)

Francis Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle--bunch of mediocre dabblers, all of them

Back then there human knowledge was less then 1% of what it is now.

Leonardo just drew. Nothing else. The others, well, human knowledge was so limited back then ...good god, a physicist, mathametician, chemist were all the same thing back then!

Even then...they were GENIUSES! Once in a century type of guys.

So, my fellow AC, are you a genius - at the above's level?

Noooooooooooooooo! You're not! You're just an average shit like me!

Re:Sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18995809)

(Long post, sorry. Summary: Yes, NO!, not really, perhaps, probably not, maybe—but I still disagree with your conclusion in the original post.)

Back then there human knowledge was less then 1% of what it is now.

And people like them wouldn't have anything to do with that having changed? Do you think the advancement of human knowledge has been brought forth solely by people focusing exclusively on one field? (Note that while most people who excel at something(that word, of course, can be used at many different levels) may only excel in one field, many of those people will have tried their best to understand more than one.)

I referred to "geniuses" because the original AC(you?) was already referring to some sort of elite: the "captains of the industry", the "real artists", and the lamentably absent great statesmen.

Now, many people who are widely regarded as being successful in their fields have been and are interested in other fields as well. The three I mentioned are widely accepted as being very good at more than one of the things they did(which was admittedly easier a couple of centuries ago if you define "very good" as "among the best in the world"), but that isn't a requirement. Einstein had a political side to him(I'd say some sort of interest for political matters among people who aren't professional politicians is a requirement for a healthy society, so this is a common field to "dabble" in for a good reason)—the most well-known expression of this is his thoughts on the atomic bomb. (Likely not his alleged thoughts on bees, no matter what recent news reports would have one believe.) Richard Feynman is pretty clearly interested in voicing his opinions on a lot of different matters that don't directly relate to his field. Stephen Hawking clearly enjoys the philosophical side of physics.

And if you cross the line from science into people that "just draw" and such, you'll soon notice that poets sing, singers write, writers make films, filmmakers act, and actors sing all over the place. (If you really need me to give examples of this, please state that if you reply.)

(Also, if you actually, seriously believe that Leonardo da Vinci "just drew", please state that if you reply, perhaps after having done some reading up on the guy, or alternatively, enlighten me as to your line of thought, if you already have. The man's status as a polymath is pretty firmly acknowledged, are you actually classifying all his work in other fields as worthless with those two sentences?)

Thoughts and actions from different fields aren't always completely unrelated to each other. Descartes being both a brilliant mathematician and a groundbreaking philosopher wasn't caused solely either by random devotion to both subjects, or by some sort of near-superhuman intelligence—his explorations of mathematics subject enriched his philosophy, and his philosophical discoveries enlightened him about how to best conduct his scientific and mathematical studies.

We may not be geniuses(though I might add that you know nothing about me and I know nothing about you, so any further discussion of this is not really productive), but why is the goal of being exceedingly skilled in one field so much more noble than, say, that of exceeding in several, or even of being good at what one does while still being capable of intelligent, critical thought when faced with unfamiliar ideas from unfamiliar fields? One might want to know that Leonardo da Vinci didn't "just draw". One might want to be able to spell "mathematician"(okay, that was low, and I sincerely apologize—your spelling says nothing about your intelligence and extremely little about your skills, even those specific to mastery of the written English language).

By the way, I'm not asserting that people who focus on one field are doing anything wrong, that they aren't often productive members of society, or that they don't sometimes turn out to be geniuses. (I'd give examples, but you clearly already admire some people in this camp. (Addendum: whether it's needed or not: Paul Erdös is the best example I can think of—the man was clearly brilliant, and it'd seem that he lived and breathed numbers.) ) I'm just saying that there's no real reason to feel contempt for "well-rounded" people: they're also often productive members of society, and they also sometimes turn out to be geniuses.

In general, I believe that one should put one's mind(and body, for that matter) towards those tasks oneself finds most worthy. If that, for you, means studying one single field, then sure, go for it. But looking down on people who study multiple fields seems pointless. Should we all aspire to learn only one single language, in order to be able to master that one better? Shouldn't people who, for example, write, know enough to be able to have something to write meaningfully about? Aren't people's lives in general enriched by knowledge?

If American schools really do put such an emphasis on general education, my opinion is that the USA is all the better off for it. The general negative stereotype, which of course is unlikely to be any more specifically applicable to residents of the United States than to those of any similar country(I'd say I live in one in this respect, so this isn't intended as a sneering comment), seems to imply the exact opposite.

Re:Sorry... (1)

dsquid (889871) | more than 7 years ago | (#19024863)

Leonardo "just [drew]"? Excuse me? Not only are you wrong, you're lazy. The first line of his Wikipedia entry: "...scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer." Just dew. LOL.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

Zhe Mappel (607548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18998699)

For someone with such a reputation you would expect him to be more interesting.



Yeah, but it's a casual, nostalgic discussion by a geezer looking back on how many chips went into his only two arcade video games, both as it happens involving colorless bouncing 2d blocks. That's never going to be a chat with Stephen Hawking, I'm afraid.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 7 years ago | (#19006837)

After reading this interview I think he's underrated.

Good reductionists make the best engineers. Likewise, his obsession with games is revealed as wholly intuitive.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (1)

bobo mahoney (1098593) | more than 7 years ago | (#19016591)

Woz has always been the quiet workhorse. The other Steve is the one to look to for "interesting". Give the guy a break, he was a much bigger reason for Apples earlier success the the more famous Steve.

Re:For someone with such a reputation... (2, Insightful)

iroll (717924) | more than 7 years ago | (#19016955)

Yeah, because having designed the Apple he would have done exactly what with it?

Apple suceeded because more than one person was in the right place at the right time. The story about how Jobs schmoozed investors and suppliers is just as interesting as the elegant design of the early Apples. To say that one is more important is like saying "yeah, my heart is cool, but my brain is the really important part--can't do without my brain."

SnghxxxzzZZZzzz (3, Informative)

keenada (1018094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992197)

To summarize the interviewer: "That was cool, back in the day, and stuff like that..."

Snood! (4, Interesting)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992243)

Woz gave a talk to my class a few years back. Just like the references to Breakout in the article, you could always tell that his driving force was making the impossible possible. Using as few chips as possible (I distinctly remember him mentioning this multiple times), making a personal computer that could do $foo and $bar, etc. For him it was all about the challenge.

And as if Woz wasn't already the idol of longtime Mac users everywhere, he further cemented his status by professing his love for Snood! All hail Woz, we bow down before your puzzle level skills.

Re:Snood! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008091)

Q: Who cares if the Woz adores the same timer-less Puzzle Bobble clone that you do?
A: Only you.

Current software development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18992455)

I personally have designed and created many projects. I do see where he is coming when comparing to the current software available. When I design a website, I use webware for python instead of wicket and tomcat. I was using wicket for the longest time, and a couple other frameworks, but the memory consumption and hardware requirements were eating my customers alive when they wanted to expand. The problem was not my design, but the underlying java runtime. Basically, the "using 40 chips" would be the premade java runtime, so I switched to webware for python. All my apps memory cost was cut at a minimum of 1/3 using a clone of the design from the java project. I'm very happy to use frameworks and write code which has minimum requirements.

Have some coffee or something (3, Insightful)

us7892 (655683) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992567)

I read page 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, waiting for the interview to pick up some steam...never really happened.

Maybe it was the interviewer? Woz needs someone to probe his mind for comments and insight. A good autobiographer could ask the questions that get more interesting responses. It might take 10 months of questions to get enough good material to sift through...

Re:Have some coffee or something (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992749)

Actually, he did a fairly good interview with Charlie Rose a few months back. Charlie's become about 200% better after he had his heart surgery... he no longer interrupts everybody every 3 seconds. I can't tell you specifically what Woz said, but it was all pretty inspiring and interesting.

Links: (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999453)

Re:Links: (2, Interesting)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 7 years ago | (#19007285)

Woz said that he never wanted to be famous or super rich; he wanted to be an "average guy" career-wise who was the best in his field (maybe a bit naivete there :)

He said he and Steve Jobs were great friends once who talked about music and philosophy; but Jobs regarded himself more as a Shakespeare/Einstein hero type.

He said Jobs was essential to the success of Apple because Steve Jobs had a better grip on simplifying technology for the masses (whereas Woz simplified technology for its own sake).

He said that his own involvement was more important to Steve Jobs than the other way around because Jobs needed talent and Woz was giving it away for free (open source style, I guess).

He said he's happy because by age 20 he realized he would never be poor.

And in undertones you can see that he went out of his way to be "normal" such as pursuing an 8-year teaching career.

Overall it's a great (and long) interview; you can see Charlie Rose working his hardest and enjoying it when he's not frustrated with Woz's fast talking style.

Re:Links: (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19007343)

I think it's good for Charlie. Charlie's one of the better interviewers out there (he's no Bill Moyer, but still), he asks not only the tough questions (who doesn't, everyone does), but the thought-provoking ones as well, and usually is able to get people saying interesting things for long periods of time. The only problem is, he LOVES to interrupt them, it's one of his very favorite things to do. You can tell that it's not because he isn't listening, but because he's incredibly into the conversation... still, it can be annoying as hell. He's improved about 400% since his heart surgery, however. I guess almost dieing puts some perspective into keeping your ears open and keeping your mouth shut... ...maybe I need to have heart surgery one of these days.

Re:Links: (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19007853)

Interesting that Jobs wouldn't write the foreword for the book, not even for old times' sake.

Re:Have some coffee or something (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993583)

A good autobiographer could ask the questions that get more interesting responses.

So you are suggesting that Woz should interview himself?

Re:Have some coffee or something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18999907)

Not unless we all really need more 2 dollar bill stories.

Woz should design a new computer (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992677)

And I don't mean a PC inside an updated Apple II enclosure. I think he would be the perfect person to design and sell a new computer targeting the home electronics hobbyist. Something very slow, like ~25Mhz, that could allow one to wire-wrap a daughterboard and just plug it in. Like people used to do in the '70s.

Strictly for fun.

Woz would be the schinazz on the OLPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18992829)

And it'd come under $100 this time too.

EOM

Re:Woz should design a new computer (2, Informative)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 7 years ago | (#18997721)

And I don't mean a PC inside an updated Apple II enclosure. I think he would be the perfect person to design and sell a new computer targeting the home electronics hobbyist. Something very slow, like ~25Mhz, that could allow one to wire-wrap a daughterboard and just plug it in. Like people used to do in the '70s.

These pretty much already exist. Google "Chumby" (designed by Bunnie Huang of Xbox 1-hacking fame).

Also, the amount of fun you can have with a $20 ATmega128 board and a free copy of AVR-GCC is pretty impressive.

ATmega128 (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18997995)

Well, the dev tools seem to all run under MSWindows. that lets me out of that one, since I don't own any Microsoft software.

The Chumby looks kind of interesting, though.

Re:ATmega128 (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 7 years ago | (#18998155)

Well, no, AVR-GCC is a port of GCC. It runs under Windows (via the WinAVR distribution) but was born and bred in GNU-land.

runs under MSWindows (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19007839)

Didn't I say that? (I don't recall saying anything to indicate I thought that Microsoft was involved in making the dev tools, now did I?)

Re:runs under MSWindows (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009321)

It also runs under Linux, of course, being GCC. Do some homework before whining, ferPetesake.

Whining? (0, Flamebait)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19092183)

You talk about whining, I just had to try to help my daughter try to figure out why she didn't want to take the trash out.

You didn't provide links. That's no sin, but the searches I did that day didn't seem to produce the tools that run under Linux. I can't say why, because when I search now I see lots of stuff that appears to run under Linux.

But that day, I ended up at atmel's site, and the only thing I saw in about fifteen minutes of searching that site was stuff like

        http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/tools_card.asp?t ool_id=2725 [atmel.com]

I didn't even see a nod to free-as-in-freedom software. Sure, I could tell from other pages that they use GCC, but that doesn't mean anything. Lots of companies use GCC under MSWindows in ways that are compatible with the letter of the GPL but don't really give back to the community. Some even deliberately make it hard to move their stuff to Linux. I've been down those roads before, I don't have time to waste doing that any more.

Sometimes, being obscure is cool. Sometimes it gets in the way.

Tradeoffs (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992705)

I give Woz mad props, no doubt about it. Looking back on things like the IWM... If they had not been able to make the ]['s floppy system so cheap it's doubtful it would have been as successful as it was.

Still, Woz's love of tricky, simplified hardware simply moved the complexity into the soft/firmware. Operating the floppy drive (at the lowest levels) was an exercise in bit-banging and tight timing loops. In some cases, you had to make sure your code was page aligned (we're talking about 256 byte pages here) to insure that incrementing the high order byte of the address pointer didn't screw up the timing.

And that is a double-edged sword. Simplifying the hardware saves you real dollars per device. But tricky, touchy drivers and firmware costs you in support, debugging and developer training.

Re:Tradeoffs (3, Informative)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993787)

Simplifying the hardware saves you real dollars per device. But tricky, touchy drivers and firmware costs you in support, debugging and developer training.

It's really not fair to evaluate the design using modern standards like that. Back in the era where individual chips cost real money, being able to pull down the hardware costs by cutting them made the difference between a computer that people could afford and fit in their home and one that was priced or sized out of reach.

As far as the complexity introduced, there was a point in my life where I had a good working knowledge of the entire ROM of the Apple II at the source code level. When it's possible to fit the whole software design of the machine in your head, whether the approach used makes for tricky drivers isn't so relevant.

By the way: if you think needing to page align data such that there's no byte rollover makes for difficult to write code, you should take a look at Atari 2600 programming. What you have to do in software to work around the hardware constraints of that clever-so-it-can-be-cheap 6502 design make Woz's Apple design look downright elegant and user-friendly.

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18994919)

You make the mistake of thjinking in modern terms.
This was prttey much 1st Gen stuff they were doing.

"support, debugging and developer training."
not really an issue at the time.

Bear in mand that his designs made it possibe to have a home computer. Otherwise the system would cost 10K a piece.

The only trade off was between being able to sell one, or not.

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008557)

More hardware: Costs for every PC sold.
Harder software: Costs once to write it.

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19012201)

Harder software: Costs once to write it.

And almost always has tons more bugs, which cost a LOT more to fix.

Re:Tradeoffs (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#19012783)

It only has more bugs because bugs can't be fixed and thus more testing is needed, which also costs more, but during another time in the lifecycle.

Is the Woz really that great? (3, Insightful)

the_arrow (171557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993023)

According to Chuck Peddle (in the book "On the edge"), Woz didn't really understand how the 6502 or its chipset worked when creating the Apple II, so Apple had to hire an engineer to rework it so it worked properly. They also couldn't handle radio emission according to FCC standards for home use either.
And talking about BASIC, the BASIC language they first created for the Apple II wasn't good either, so they had to buy it from MicroSoft, but at double the price of Commodore.

But then, I know I could never create a computer almost from scratch (apparantly Woz had one of the early 6502 boards from MOS), so he is good deal better than me! But I think I would be able to write a descent BASIC though... ;)

Re:Is the Woz really that great? (4, Interesting)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993589)

They also couldn't handle radio emission according to FCC standards for home use either.

According to the Apple II History [apple2history.org] page the FCC issues were related to the RF modulator design used. I don't think anyone has ever claimed Woz was an RF engineer.

And talking about BASIC, the BASIC language they first created for the Apple II wasn't good either, so they had to buy it from MicroSoft, but at double the price of Commodore.

Then hit that page again and read the part starting with "An interesting bit of trivia about Wozniak's Integer BASIC was that he never had an assembly language source file for it. He wrote it in machine language, assembling it by hand on paper". One of the things Microsoft had going for them when they were working on their BASIC was that they access to much better development tools running on a larger system, and were essentially cross-compiling from there to generate the code for the home PC. Anybody can write a BASIC interpreter, fitting one into a tiny space in the era before there were even good assemblers available was a different thing altogether.

Re:Is the Woz really that great? (1)

bjb (3050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19019553)

Then hit that page again and read the part starting with "An interesting bit of trivia about Wozniak's Integer BASIC was that he never had an assembly language source file for it. He wrote it in machine language, assembling it by hand on paper".

Don't get me wrong, I've been a fan of Woz for the last 25+ years. However, the "by hand" part that Woz did with Integer BASIC (or "Game BASIC" as the article said) was a fairly common activity back in the early hobby days. Ever hear of punch cards or the term "computer time" when referring to someone who only has 30 minutes a week to use a computer? You did quite a bit of "by hand" compilation because access to a real physical computer to run your deck was scarce, and you maybe had one shot to see if your program worked.

In Woz's case, it was probably more driven by the fact that the Apple II essentially hadn't been released yet when he was writing Integer BASIC, so it was pretty much him and a few other programmers making software to sell the machine and that was it. I'd gather his line of thinking could have been A) create development tools B) write BASIC so he can create BRICKOUT. Probably chose 'B', but did 'A' long enough (SWEET16) to support 'B'.

I'd say the more impressive fact about Integer BASIC is that Woz, from what my memory recalls, had never written a programming language interpreter before. In comparison, Microsoft had a few go's at it before AppleSoft BASIC.

Huh? (1)

green pizza (159161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18995103)

From what I understand, and I may be very wrong, the MOS 6502 CPU was very similar to the Motorla 6800 (the 6800, NOT the 68000), it was also 1/6 the price of 6800 or the Intel 8080. I think I also read that MOS was selling these CPUs out of a punch bowl at some electronics conference. Woz was estatic, bought one or two, and started to develop a very simple computer around it (the original Apple I). There was no evaulation board from MOS, there was no "chipset", it was just a simple CPU that was easy to understand and easy to implement.

As far as outside help, I know Woz had a friend design the switching power supply (a first for a home/hobbyist computer... most used linear power supplies). I hadn't heard the story about the RF adapter though.

As for BASIC, Woz created an integer basic for the Apple II and put it in ROM. Apple later had Microsoft create an enhanced BASIC for the Apple II. Back in those days, most of MS's business came from porting to BASIC to various platforms.

6502 and other nostalgia (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18995535)

I no longer have any good references, but the 6502 was similar to the 6800. It was also used in the Commodore Pet, but the Radio Shack TRS-80 used the Z80. (Those were the three main "consumer" systems of the day, with built-in keyboards.) At the time, some people considered it a pretty hot chip (yes, we are talking 1 Mhz 8-bit), but MOS missed out on the transition to the later chips. Some later Apple //s used the 65816, IIRC, but that's as far as it went.

Re:Huh? (1)

the_arrow (171557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999755)

There was no evaulation board from MOS, there was no "chipset", it was just a simple CPU that was easy to understand and easy to implement.

Chuck Peddle also designed a periphial chipset for the 6502, and a kit-computers using all chips called KIM-1 [wikipedia.org] . Some other companies also made kit-computers.

Re:Is the Woz really that great? (1)

Sketch (2817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18995123)

Woz is Insanely Great.

Re:Is the Woz really that great? (2, Interesting)

spiderbitendeath (577712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18998145)

According to his book, iWoz, Woz created the BASIC for the Apple II based off of the BASIC for HP's computers. Most everyone else was using one based off of Microsoft's, which was based off of DEC's version of BASIC. So there were some incompatibility issues.

He also says in there that most of what they talk about in those other books about what went on is wrong. And that he's very unhappy with them.

It's a very interesting book to read, should check it out.

What? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993369)

" The reason Atari wanted me to design [Breakout] is they were tired of their games taking 150, 200 chips, and they knew I designed things with very few chips, so we had incentives for getting it under 50 or under 40 chips. That was my forte. Now I designed it, but it was... To save parts, I'll make no part go to waste and have tricky little designs that are hard for just a simple engineer to follow. Once you understand it, it's very easy because there's so few parts, it's easier to understand. But they had trouble understanding it."
I know Woz is a super geek and everyone adores him. I do. I think he's a cool guy. But dammit he's hard to follow and generally rambles about things that don't matter. It's no wonder they had trouble understanding you, man! He's so full of thought, and has so much to say, that he can't get it out fast enough and he's on to something else.

Re:What? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993667)

That's why for pieces like this it's the interviewer's job to provide some direction for the piece, some gentle nudges in the right direction if necessary, encouraging the subject, and giving the whole thing a bit of structure. This particular interviewer didn't do the best job of that in the world.

Woz can be a great interview, but you have to be a good interviewer.

Re:What? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993877)

Well that for sure. And maybe some editing? (:

Re:What? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993991)

Yeah. Yeah, that's cool. Yeah, maybe, do you think some editing would maybe, help the whole article out or not? Do you think, that sort of thing would make the whole, article or piece, a bit more readable, in any way? Exactly that sort of thing? Yeah. Interesting.

Re:What? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18994863)

I think that's ebcause he's bored with the interview.
I mean, come on, breakout?
oh and it was called 'Simon'.

That interviewer was really amaturish.

Re:What? (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19017395)

Atari's version was caled Touch Me. And it came out before Simon, which was made by Ralph Bear -- who made a pong-like game before Pong. Simon was Ralph's poetic justice success for having Nolan rip him off for Pong.

Is the interviewer 12 years old? (3, Informative)

dannycim (442761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18993451)

That's cool.

That's cool. [...] like conferences and stuff like that?

Did they have like a sketch of the way it would look on the screen or did you just interpret it yourself?

That's where I stopped reading.

understanding (0, Flamebait)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18998869)

"That's where I stopped reading."

Yeah, and that's why you fail to understand yourself.

The easiest anser... (1)

poormanjoe (889634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18999471)

is usually the correct one.
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