Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was the keynote speaker at the New South Wales government’s “Future Transport” summit in Sydney today.
After a brief discussion about wearing trainers with a suit – an idea he picked up from Twitter’s Biz Stone – “Woz” got down to discussing what innovation is.
“Innovation crosses over to invention,” he said.
One part is engineering, the other, inventors who “get a weird idea… it’s not the way things are done, it’s not the way things are described in books”.
“You need both,” he said going on to say they’re the sorts of ideas where “nobody thinks it’s worth a lot of money”, but could become the next Facebook or Apple.
“Sometimes when you invent something, you know it’s great, you know it’s the basis of a new future and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you invent a great thing and you’re still wrong,” he said.
Wozniak recounted how, when Atari’s Pong came out as an arcade game, he decided to build his own version for home.
“It was 28 little $1 chips because I had trained myself to be the ultimate in the world of minimising the cost and the parts,” he said.
It was about that time that he made the connection with Steve Jobs, who took Wozniak’s home-made version to Atari. The company was impressed.
“They hired him. I think they thought he designed it,” Woz recounted.
Atari then took the innovation to the next level. Rather than mass-producing the $28 Wozniak version, they “made a smart decision” and spent an extra year until they had developed a single $1 chip for the home game.
“I get attracted to the things that are changing in life that haven’t been here before,” Wozniak said.
Here’s the start of his talk on innovation at the Future Transport Summit, which continues on Tuesday, courtesy of the NSW government.