By Stephen Levy
On November 2nd, The Palladium at St. Petersburg College held one of it’s first inspirational speaker events, featuring well-known Silicon Valley philanthropist and envied mastermind of the computer science community, Steve Wozniak. From beginning to end, the evening at the Palladium was eventful with not a single dull moment.
Musical talent was provided by Austin Vickrey on the saxophone and Jeremy Douglass on the piano, which set the tone for the evening that was yet to come. First to speak was SPC Baccalaureate Amy Bhatt, who promptly welcomed everybody and introduced SPC president Bill Law, who discussed exactly what St. Petersburg College is and the merit that is carried by an SPC student, faculty member, as well as staff. Erica Wells, recipient of SPC’s Presidential Scholarship, spoke of her experience and success at SPC, providing a heartfelt speech that outlined her goals and the inspiration behind them. Last, but most certainly not least, Bill McCloud, SPC foundation chairman spoke on the importance of scholarships and the impact they have on the community, be it the community at SPC, as well as beyond that scope.
Interviewed by Geoff Simon, Wozniak (Casually referred to as Woz) reminisced on his early days as an engineer, before meeting Steve Jobs. From an early point in his life, Woz knew he wanted to be an engineer, like his father, but also had a dream to be a teacher, which he expanded on towards the end of the show. Subject matter included the blue box, which essentially tricked telephones in the 1970’s to place long distance phone calls at no charge by playing a specific sound at the frequency of 2600 hertz. Steve Jobs, in partnership with Wozniak sold and produced these at the university they were attending at the time. He revealed how he first came into contact with Steve Jobs, which was by sharing a mutual appreciation for pulling pranks, combined with Jobs’ fascination with electronics. Though Jobs was an enthusiast for electronics, he really didn’t have much of an idea about how they worked under the hood, so to speak. Keeping it short, Woz was the technical genius behind Apple and Apple II. Fun fact learned at the show: The original Atari video game system was designed to play video games in only black and white. Being the genius he is, Steve Wozniak found a way to program video game cartridges to output the content in color by knowing how signals in modern day color TV’s worked. Ever play Breakout on Atari? Yup, Steve Wozniak produced it in all of it’s colorful glory aided by Steve Jobs.
Those who were unfamiliar with Wozniak before the event hopefully walked away with a better understanding of who was REALLY responsible for Apple being the way we know it today. Those who walked in knowing the details behind Woz’s contributions left the Palladium with a better understanding of the man adored by a majority of the tech community worldwide. Regardless of prior knowledge, the evening with Woz truly what he is. A warmhearted, genuine philanthropist who believes that relationships between people is what really makes the world go round.
Stay tuned to the SPC sandbox for details on future events from the Palladium, as well as around campus!
Header photo from technobubble.com.