Another prank involved a pocket device Wozniak built that could emit TV signals. He would take it to a room where a group of people were watching TV, such as in a dorm, and secretly press the button so that the screen   would get fuzzy with static. When someone got up and whacked the set, Wozniak would let go of the button and the picture would clear up. Once he had the unsuspecting viewers hopping up and down at his will, he would make   things harder. He would keep the picture fuzzy until someone touched the antenna. Eventually he would make people thinkRead More →

No one had ever created a digital version of a Blue Box, but Woz was made for the challenge. Using diodes and transistors from Radio Shack, and with the help of a music student in his dorm who had perfect pitch, he got it built before Thanksgiving. “I have never designed a circuit I was prouder of,” he said. “I still think it was incredible.” One night Wozniak drove down from Berkeley to Jobs’s house to try it. They attempted to call Wozniak’s uncle in Los Angeles,   but they got a wrong number. It didn’t matter; their device had worked. “Hi! We’re calling youRead More →

A hero of the piece was John Draper, a hacker known as Captain Crunch because he had discovered that the sound emitted by the toy whistle that came with the breakfast cereal was the same 2600 Hertz tone used by the phone network’s call-routing switches. It could fool the system into allowing a long-distance call to go through without extra charges. The article revealed that other tones that   served to route calls could be found in an issue of the Bell System Technical Journal, which AT&T immediately began asking libraries to pull from their shelves. As soon as Jobs got the call from WozniakRead More →

In February 1974, after eighteen months of hanging around Reed, Jobs decided to move back to his parents’ home in Los Altos and look for a job. It was not a difficult search. At peak times during the 1970s,   the classified section of the San Jose Mercury carried up to sixty pages of technology help-wanted ads. One of those caught Jobs’s eye. “Have fun, make money,” it said. That day Jobs walked into the lobby   of the video game manufacturer Atari and told the personnel director, who was startled by his unkempt hair and attire, that he wouldn’t leave until they gave himRead More →

Following the lead of other phone phreaks such as Captain Crunch, they gave themselves handles. Wozniak became “Berkeley Blue,” Jobs was “Oaf Tobark.” They took the device to college dorms and gave demonstrations by attaching it to a phone and speaker. While the   potential customers watched, they would call the Ritz in London or a dial-a-joke service in Australia. “We made a hundred or so Blue Boxes and sold almost all of them,” Jobs recalled.   The fun and profits came to an end at a Sunnyvale pizza parlor. Jobs and Wozniak were about to drive to Berkeley with a Blue Box they hadRead More →

Jobs thus became one of the first fifty employees at Atari, working as a technician for $5 an hour. “In retrospect, it was weird to hire a dropout from Reed,” Alcorn recalled.   “But I saw something in him. He was very intelligent, enthusiastic, excited about tech.” Alcorn assigned him to work with a straitlaced engineer named Don Lang. The next day Lang complained,   “This guy’s a goddamn hippie with b.o. Why did you do this to me? And he’s impossible to deal with.” Jobs clung to the belief that his fruit-heavy vegetarian diet would prevent not just mucus but also body odor, evenRead More →

When he got off the plane in New Delhi, he felt waves of heat rising from the tarmac, even though it was only April. He had been given the name of a hotel, but it was full, so he went to one his taxi driver insisted was good. “I’m sure he   was getting some baksheesh, because he took me to this complete dive.” Jobs asked the owner whether the water was filtered and foolishly believed the answer. “I got dysentery pretty fast. I was sick, really   sick, a really high fever. I dropped from 160 pounds to 120 in about a week.” OnceRead More →

When Jobs told the folks at Atari that he was quitting to go search for a guru in India, the jovial Alcorn was amused. “He comes in and stares at me and declares, ‘I’m going to find my guru,’   and I say, ‘No shit, that’s super. Write me!’ And he says he wants me to help pay, and I tell him, ‘Bullshit!’” Then Alcorn had an idea. Atari was   making kits and shipping them to Munich, where they were built into finished machines and distributed by a wholesaler in Turin. But there was a problem: Because the games were designed for the AmericanRead More →

Not all of his coworkers shunned Jobs. He became friends with Ron Wayne, a draftsman at Atari, who had earlier started a company that built slot machines.   It subsequently failed, but Jobs became fascinated with the idea that it was possible to start your own company.   “Ron was an amazing guy,” said Jobs. “He started companies. I had never met anybody like that.” He proposed to Wayne that they go into business together; Jobs said he could borrow $50,000, and they could design and market a slot machine. But Wayne had already been burned in business, so he declined. “I said that wasRead More →

At one point Jobs was told of a young Hindu holy man who was holding a gathering of his followers at the Himalayan estate of a wealthy businessman. “It was a chance to meet a spiritual being and hang out with his followers, but it was also a chance to have a good meal. I could smell the food as we got near,   and I was very hungry.” As Jobs was eating, the holy man—who was not much older than Jobs—picked him out of the crowd, pointed at him, and began laughing maniacally. “He came running over and grabbed me and made a tootingRead More →