Jobs began to accompany Wozniak to Homebrew meetings, carrying the TV monitor and helping to set things up. The meetings now attracted more than one hundred enthusiasts and had been moved to the auditorium of the Stanford Linear
Accelerator Center. Presiding with a pointer and a free-form manner was Lee Felsenstein, another embodiment of the merger between the world of computing and the counterculture. He was an engineering school dropout, a participant in the Free
Speech Movement, and an antiwar activist. He had written for the alternative newspaper Berkeley Barb and then gone back to being a computer engineer.
Woz was usually too shy to talk in the meetings, but people would gather around his machine afterward, and he would proudly show off his progress. Moore had tried to instill in the Homebrew an ethos of swapping and sharing rather than commerce.
“The theme of the club,” Woz said, “was ‘Give to help others.’” It was an expression of the hacker ethic that information should be free and all authority mistrusted. “I designed the Apple I because I wanted to give it away for free to other people,” said Wozniak.
This was not an outlook that Bill Gates embraced. After he and Paul Allen had completed their BASIC interpreter for the Altair, Gates was appalled that members of the Homebrew were making copies of it and sharing it without paying him. So he
wrote what would become a famous letter to the club: “As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Is this fair? . . . One thing you do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional
Steve Jobs, similarly, did not embrace the notion that Wozniak’s creations, be it a Blue Box or a computer, wanted to be free. So he convinced Wozniak to stop giving away copies of his schematics. Most people didn’t have time to build it themselves
anyway, Jobs argued. “Why don’t we build and sell printed circuit boards to them?” It was an example of their symbiosis. “Every time I’d design something great, Steve
would find a way to make money for us,” said Wozniak. Wozniak admitted that he would have never thought of doing that on his own. “It never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said, ‘Let’s hold them in the air and sell a few.’”
work for nothing? . . .
I would appreciate
letters from anyone
who wants to pay up.”