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Steve Wozniak

inventor, cofounder, Apple Computer

Stephen Wozniak, cofounder of Apple Computers, is often given credit for starting the PC revolution. Born August 11, 1950, Wozniak built his own amateur radio station when he was 11 years old and got a ham-radio license. Two years later, he built his first computer. In the 1970's he built blue-boxes which he later sold with Steve Jobs. Having dropped out of college in 1975, Wozniak was working with a group called the Homebrew Computer Club, based in Palo Alto, CA. There, he developed a successful computer, but was working as a hobbyist. That is where he met Jobs, and the two decided that a completely assembled and inexpensive computer would be a hot item. They raised some money and built a prototype in Jobs' garage. Named Apple I, it was a fully assembled and functional unit that contained a $25 microprocessor on a single-circuit board with ROM. On April 1, 1976, Jobs and Wozniak formed the Apple Computer Company. Wozniak quit his job at Hewlett-Packard and became the vice president in charge of research and development at Apple. Apple I was priced at $666.66. Jobs and Wozniak sold their first 25 computers to a local dealer. In 1980, the Apple company went public and made Jobs and Wozniak millionaires. In 1981, Wozniak was in a plane crash that caused him short-term memory loss. He withdrew from his work at Apple, and went back to school, earning degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. He went back to work at Apple, in development, but decided to leave the company for good in 1985. That year President Ronald Reagan presented Wozniak with the National Medal of Technology. In 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In May 2004, Woz received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from North Carolina State University for his contributions to the field of personal computing, as well as several other honorary degrees from various institutions.