By Alex Forghani
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak discussed his lifelong passion for communications technology and hailed wireless technology’s potential at a tech networking event at the Bren Events Center last Thursday, Feb. 8.
The event was sponsored by SOLiD Americas, a purveyor of distributed antenna systems (DAS) critical to the function of wireless technology. The company’s president Ken Sandfeld was present, asking Wozniak questions about his experience working alongside Steve Jobs, his pioneering work in the transition from analog to digital computation technology and his opinion on the future of wireless technology.
“We felt we were going to have great impact on the world, but we couldn’t really see in what ways at all,” said Wozniak, reflecting on his work in the 1970s. Because the amount of memory required to store a single song cost “a million dollars,” he thought predicting the consumer’s ability to store thousands of songs on a device as small as their hand for a few hundred dollars was virtually impossible.
Showcasing how far computer technology has come, Wozniak began the event by jokingly silencing a dozen personal cell phones: all of them connected to a mobile plan and all capable of accessing the entirety of human knowledge with a few keystrokes.
“I love to play with different carriers. I have AT&T, I have Verizon, I have Sprint, I have T-Mobile,” said Wozniak, pulling out a few iPhones, a Samsung Galaxy Note and a Google Pixel, among others.
He described testing each wireless carrier tirelessly, even trying out the experimental Google Project Fi. Wozniak maintained his dedication to occupying the vanguard of wireless technology, a trait he said he acquired early on.
“I hastily wanted to provide a tool for other people to start a social revolution,” said Wozniak about the Apple I personal computer he created. “Back then there were only six computers, networked long-distance, called the ARPANET.”
According to Wozniak, he was one of the few with expert knowledge of the simplistic networking system, and one of even fewer to improve on that technology.
On his work with Steve Jobs, Wozniak said, “I designed the Apple I and Apple II myself…but Steve Jobs turned them into products.” Wozniak also argued for the necessity of synergy among engineers, programmers and business experts in entrepreneurial forays into the tech industry.
Looking into the future, Wozniak declared that wireless technology had great potential for further growth, but some things needed to improve.
“I’m hoping that someday there’s a network, maybe a network based on blockchain, where I can put a price on any of my data,” said Wozniak, about the pervasive use of user data collection among tech companies.
His opinion is informed by his role as a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting consumers from violations to personal freedoms and civil liberties from emergent technologies.
He cited wireless charging, voice recognition technology, and streamlined User Interfaces as the greatest boons to the wireless tech sector. Wozniak said he wants to live in a world free of the shackles of complex methods of using technology.
“I want to from now on have a thought, and be able to speak it and get answers and get things done, I don’t want to memorize procedures…I still believe in those kind of dreams, I just want to speak things.”