tuesday

Anyone who spent any length of time in a suburban elementary-school classroom in the 1980s can testify to the greatness of the Apple II. By day, you could engage in certain quasi-educational activities such as navigating your way through Oregon Trail or printing out huge PrintShop banners on an overtaxed dot-matrix printer. Then, after class, there was the geeky friend with Ghostbusters or Montezuma’s Revenge on a floppy disk that took 15 minutes to load. Good times—all of which we owe to Steve Wozniak. His masterstroke, in 1975, was to be the first person to combine a computer with a keyboard and monitor—the Apple I—thus creating the personal-computer format dominant to this day. Though the Apple I changed history, it was the Apple II that changed lives: Introduced in 1977, the Apple II (designed almost solely by Wozniak) was so finely engineered that some 2 million were sold before it was discontinued in 1993—an unheard-of lifetime for a computer system. In his latest memoir, iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon, Wozniak recounts his beginnings as the son of a defense engineer in the Santa Clara Valley (before it became Silicon Valley) on to his post-Apple life as promoter of the legendarily money-losing US Festivals. And Wozniak makes it pretty clear: While that other Steve from Apple might get all the headlines these days, it was the Apple II that kept the company afloat during a few disasters in the ’80s—including the ill-fated Apple III—making the Macintosh, the Newton, and the iBook possible. Wozniak discusses and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Mike DeBonis)

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