Steve Wozniak: The Mac was a flop

Ben Camm-Jones
6 December, 2011
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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has revealed some interesting opinions about some of Apple’s products that failed in an interview.

Speaking on Sunday MIDDAY, a programme run on India’s NDTV network, Woz conceded that the Apple III had been a failure – something that few would dispute – but also said that the Macintosh had been a failure too.

“The Apple III was a failure, the LISA was a failure and the Macintosh was a failure. It was only by modifying the Macintosh hugely and over time that we made it a good computer,” Wozniak said.

The failure of the Apple III was caused by marketing executives being in charge of the project. “If the guys at Apple had built the machine that they would love, it would have been successful. It came instead from formulas from Apple executives.

“Marketing people were in charge and some very bad decisions got made, in my opinion. There were hardware failures. You put out a product that has failures right away, and even if you fix it a year later, it just doesn’t sell. It’s the same thing with any smartphone today. It comes out and it has something horribly wrong about it. You can fix everything wrong about it, and it still won’t sell. It has missed its window of opportunity.”

In contrast, Wozniak said that the success of the Apple II was in large part due to his fellow Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. “Steve Jobs had a large part to play in it, and he knew where he wanted to go with it. It was an excellent product. Steve Jobs sought the best things in the world. He knew that I was the best designer, and that Apple II was the best computer, and that’s why he wanted both.”

Wozniak claims in the interview not to have read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, though he does actually own the title. “I have been so busy that I never read it. But I have lived a lot of it. So I am sure it is accurate. Steve Jobs was himself after honesty in the book, and he did not want the book to be closed or to hide the truth.”

He describes Jobs’ death as a “shock”. “Steve Jobs was such an important part of my life that sometimes I tear up,” he said.

7 Comments

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  1. Peter says:

    Actually, the biggest problem with the Apple III was that it would overheat because Jobs insisted on not having a fan inside.

    Macintosh sold well below Apple’s estimates when it was first released. The “beige toaster” was a hard sell. It was only after Apple got rid of Steve Jobs and created the Mac Plus, SE, and Macintosh II that things started taking off.

    I think Steve Wozniak just doesn’t want to speak ill of the dead.

  2. Steve says:

    How is any opinion Woz has relevant now?

  3. Chris Oaten says:

    I suppose we’ve all had at least one interview we’ve failed. No need to be so harsh.

  4. smith says:

    NIce trolling, Steve. Just how is YOUR opinion relevant at all, given your own criteria. You weren’t involved with the subject of the article, you only read it. Woz is the reason the article could even be written, then and now.

  5. Leon Dive says:

    I would hardly call the Liza a failure or the first Macintoshes.
    Financially I am sure the Liza was a failure but it pointed the way to a completely new way for the personal computer.
    I have owned a Liza, which cost me a fortune, and it paid for itself in 6 months. Fantastic software.
    I had a great time with the first 128kByte Mac, expanded it to more than the equivalent of the Mac Plus complete with SCSI port and 4 MByte of RAM and it made a great learning experience particularly with the consistency of the software.
    I also had an Apple III, never had a problem.

  6. Chris Oaten says:

    @Leon It’s Lisa, dude. Are you sure you owned one? Or was it one of those Liza computers you get from Acme? The one that comes with a free Loover vacuum cleaner?

  7. Peter Schaper says:

    It’s all water under the bridge now. However for many Apple II users the early Macs were not acceptable because they were not backwards compatible with the Apple II, requiring replacement of all your software on top of the purchase price of the computer, plus loss of access to data, and I think some (many?) Apple II users switched to MS-DOS in protest when a version of the original AppleWorks became available for that OS, though I stayed with the Apple II until 1994 when I bought a Mac PowerBook running OS7.1 and ClarisWorks v2.0. Apple still don’t understand the imporftance of software continuity though, killing off AppleWorks for the Mac and not providing a genuine replacement, or even ongoing access to AppleWorks data files, so I’ve begun considering alternatives in anticipation of soon not even being able to get a Mac that runs AppleWorks.

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