HOUSTON -- Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple and designer of the original Apple I and Apple II, spoke at a "fireside chat" with Smith & Associates co-founders, Bob and Lee Ackerley, and Chief Trading Officer, Marc Barnhill, at a private luncheon for Smith employees. This week, Smith & Associates, the largest independent distributor of electronic components, is hosting a week-long series of events to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. One of the highlights was Wozniak’s appearance and the opportunity to discuss the past 30 years of growth in personal computing, as shared by both the leading company he co-founded and by Smith & Associates, which took part in those early days for the PC sector.
Wozniak surprised the audience with not only his wit and approachability, but, importantly, with the insights and recounting of real experiences he shared in the very early days of personal computing and of Apple’s early start through its global success story. In considering the business strategies and lessons learned from his tenure with Apple, Wozniak shared important insight on the inspiration behind his innovations that altered how we all play and work and socially interact today. Wozniak also discussed the importance of quality – quality in designs and in products as the key differentiators that led to the success of the Apple I and II.
"I wanted that kind of computer. […] I loved computers and I worked on calculators. […] I just wanted to be working on the cool jobs," Wozniak underscored.
Asked about his thoughts on wearable devices and what leading trends today might suddenly be as much of a breakthrough device as Apple I and II or Apple's iPod, Wozniak focused on the importance of intuitive software and devices. While wearables are interesting right now, he offered that we need "[…] radically different technology. We need someone to do something unexpected." In conclusion, he said, "Tech is good when it makes you think less and work less."
"Having the opportunity to hear from Steve [Wozniak], a founding-father in computing, is a privilege," said Bob Ackerley, co-founder/owner of Smith & Associates. "At Smith, we have directly benefited from his innovation by supporting the global electronic manufacturers as they’ve grown and changed over the years. It is important to recognize that his innovations, as well as the innovations of those like him, have moved computing beyond a business and industry tool and made the personal computer ubiquitous."
When asked about the role that education has always played, Wozniak talked about his goals for early personal computers and the social implications of bringing computers into the classroom and into the home. During the early days, Wozniak told the group, access to personal computing was as much a technological revolution as a social revolution.
The opportunity to exchange thoughts and interact with Wozniak underscored some of Smith’s shared experiences in the highly charged and ever-changing electronics industry. "Steve is a true pioneer who continues to inspire so many of us in the industry," added Lee Ackerley, co-founder/owner of Smith & Associates. "Listening to him reflect on his experiences and lessons-learned around designs and design teams was fascinating. The cycle of innovation will, of course, never end, but hearing from Steve how he sees new trends of wearable computing and continuing the reach of personal computing to people reminds me of the excitement that is still at the heart of this industry – the excitement and the promise that we felt 30 years ago, and that we still all feel."
"Looking back at technology with Steve today was fascinating, but it was also highly motivating to me and the Smith team to continue to find new ways to support our customers as they meet future computing challenges," concluded Marc Barnhill, Chief Trading Officer for Smith & Associates.
About Smith & Associates
Founded in Houston in 1984, Smith & Associates is a leader in the independent distribution of semiconductors and electronic components to electronics and high-tech manufacturers. Smith offers shortage sourcing for commodity and obsolete parts, innovative purchasing and inventory management solutions, redistribution of excess inventory, and component stocking for warranty and repair programs.
A privately-held company, Smith & Associates employs more than 300 people worldwide, with annual revenue in excess of US $586 million. Smith's regional hubs in Houston, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam are ISO certified. In addition, sales and purchasing offices are located in Austin, Silicon Valley, Guadalajara, New York, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, and Penang. For more information, see
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