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Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Speaks At USF Sun Dome

Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Steve Wozniak, right, appears on stage with Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem

Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak spoke Tuesday at the Sun Dome on the University of South Florida Tampa campus. While he isn't as famous as Apple's other co-founder, Steve Jobs, Wozniak  did attract an audience of nearly 5,000 people.

Wozniak sees himself first and foremost as an engineer. He built the first personal computer and gave away the design for free. Steve Jobs helped turn his idea into money by starting a company together.

The communal feel of those early days in the 1970's has worn off, he said.

"My entire life, I watched technology versus human. The human should always be more important," he said. "We should put all the work into our technology to make it work in natural human ways the way humans are used to working. We shouldn't force them to change their modes of behavior very much. And I see to much of that happening from all the companies - even Apple."

But Wozniak told the students in the audience they have the power to be a positive change in society.

"It was like a revolution," he said of his early days designing computers. "Every young person wants to somehow change things that are so wrong in the world - the government, whatever - they want to be part of a revolution - and that ways mine. It was technical. So I built this computer."

Credit Ryan Noon/University of South Florida

Wozniak says he isn't political - it creates too many "frowns," he told the audience. But felt strongly enough about the concept of "net neutrality" - telling Internet service providers they should not favor or block any particular products or websites - that the only two trips he took to Washington, D.C. was for public hearings. There, he protested moves by the Trump administration to overturn net neutrality.

"This idea of net neutrality - it's a fairness thing. Anybody can kind of publish anything equally. When the internet first came, that's how we viewed it. That what it was intended to be," he said.

Wozniak is currently chief scientist at Primary Data.He was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Reagan in 1985. That's the highest honor that can be bestowed on the nation's leading innovators. In 2000, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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