That Woz that: Steve Wozniak at Business Rocks

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Apple co-founder Steve ‘Woz Wozniak was on entertainingly candid form at last week’s inaugural Business Rocks convention. Speaking on day one of the two-day event at Manchester Central, Wozniak cut a dash in a crisp blue shirt, smart grey business suit and bright yellow and navy Nikes.

Interviewed by Sunday Times journalist Bryan Appleyard in front of a packed and expectant audience, the famously talkative computing pioneer – who single-handedly built the Apple II computer – didn’t hold back during his hour-long appearance.

Talking with trademark speed and enthusiasm, he ranged from the early days of Apple – which he co-founded with Steve Jobs in 1976 – to the 2015 movie about Jobs directed by Danny Boyle. (Seth Rogan, who plays Wozniak in the film, has “become a family friend” he said.)

He also explained that “I’m technically an employee of Apple”, adding that “I get a small pay cheque, because I’’ve always wanted to be that person that was on the payroll computer every single week since we started the company… I just like to do it, it’s a token. But they won’t fire me.”

To the amusement of the crowd, he also came up with a reason why that might be the case. “A year after Steve Jobs died, my wife – who worked in Apple Education – checked on the internal computer system and I was still reporting to Steve Jobs, and I said, ‘Good, I can’t be fired’.”

Not about money

Elsewhere, Wozniak reiterated that starting Apple was never about the money, that he loves and uses the Apple Watch but finds the fact that you can be “paying $500 for the band” to be “a joke”, and that all businesses need to adopt digital technology if they want to be “disruptive”.

Wozniak also found time to praise Manchester’s role in the development of computing, saying he was “inspired” by the city’s history and that he “almost got chills this morning thinking about… its important role in the revolution of computer technology”.

Founded by Jonathon Cadden, the Business Rocks conference featured over 65 speakers in a variety of talks, interviews and discussions. Tweeting at the close of the convention, Cadden said: “Mission Accomplished… Bring on #BR2017”.