Woz and Religion

As interesting as Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs is, I liked the parts that featured Steve Wozniak the best. So I picked up Woz’s memoir – iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It – and read it at the same I read Jobs’s biography. As expected, Woz’s perspective contains much more detail about the technical underpinnings behind Apple’s early success, partly to clear up any misconception that Jobs invented everything himself.

The detailed technical narratives by Woz are worth the price alone. But his non-technical reflections could also fill a book.

Here’s his take on religion:

So this was a hard social time for me. I remember that at one point I was taking some night classes at San Jose State and this pretty girl comes up to my table in the cafeteria and says, “Oh, hi.” She just starts talking to me, and I’m so nervous all I can think to ask her is what her major is. She says, “Scientology.”

I’d never heard of this, but she assured me it was actually a major and I believed it. She invited me to a Scientology meeting, and of course I went. I ended up in the audience watching this guy make this incredible presentation about how you can basically be in better control of yourself and that you could get really happy from that.

After the meeting, the girl I met sat with me in some little office for an hour, trying to sell me these courses to become a better person. I was going to have to pay money for them. I said to her, “I’ve already got my happiness. I’ve got my keys to happiness. I don’t need anything. I’m not looking for any of this stuff.” And I meant it. The only thing I might’ve wanted was a girlfriend, that’s for sure, but the rest of the stuff I already had.

I had a sense of humor, and I had this attitude about life that let me choose to be happy. I knew that whether to be happy was always going to be my choice, and only my choice.

Wozniak, Steve (2007-10-17). iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon (pp. 83-84). Norton. Kindle Edition.

Even if Woz played a bigger role in the Apple’s post-Macintosh era, you could forgive Jobs’s biographers for not devoting much more space to him: there’s just not much mystery or drama behind what Woz does. He’s just as astounding a mensch as he is an engineer. As predictable as that is, I still find myself going back and re-skimming his memoir for enjoyment and enlightenment.

I'm a programmer journalist, currently teaching computational journalism at Stanford University. I'm trying to do my new blogging at blog.danwin.com.