“His name is Steve. He likes to do pranks like you do, and he’s also into building electronics like you.”
When mutual friend Bill Fernandez introduced Steve Wozniak to Steve Jobs, he unwittingly changed computing history. The two were friends almost immediately, each impressed with the other’s intelligence and abilities, and would go on to form Apple in 1976.
But before they did that, they played some awesome pranks around their hometown, together and on their own.
In the early chapters of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, we get multiple looks at the devilish sides of the two Steves.
'I had a good friend named Rick Ferrentino, and we'd get into all sorts of trouble. Like we made little posters announcing 'Bring Your Pet to School Day.' It was crazy, with dogs chasing cats all over, and the teachers were beside themselves.'
From Isaacson's book:
(T)hey convinced some kids to tell them the combination numbers for their bike locks. 'Then we went outside and switched all of the locks, and nobody could get their bikes. It took them until late that night to straighten things out.'
'One time we set off an explosive under the chair of our teacher, Mrs. Thurman. We gave her a nervous twitch.'
'In twelfth grade he built an electronic metronome -- one of those tick-tick-tick devices that keep time in music class -- and realised it sounded like a bomb. So he took the labels off some big batteries, taped them together, and put it in a school locker; he rigged it to start ticking faster when the locker opened. Later that day he got called to the principal's office. He thought it was because he had won, yet again, the school's top maths prize. Instead he was confronted by the police. The principal had been summoned when the device was found, (and he) bravely ran onto the football field clutching it to his chest, and pulled the wires off.'
'On a big bed sheet (mutual friend Allen) Baum had tie-dyed with the school's green and white colours, they painted a huge hand flipping the middle-finger salute ... They devised a system of ropes and pulleys so that it could be dramatically lowered as the graduating class marched past the balcony, and they signed it 'SWAB JOB,' the initials of Wozniak and Baum combined with part of Jobs's name.'
Jobs said that the banner prank was the thing that sealed his friendship with Wozniak.
'Wozniak built (a pocket device) 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 ... Eventually he would make people think they had to hold the antenna while standing on one foot or touching the top of the set.'
While they were building 'blue boxes,' electronic devices that enabled you to make long distance phone calls for free and otherwise stunt the telephone system, Wozniak called the Vatican and pretended to be Henry Kissinger.