Besides that he co-founded Apple and had a funny nickname, I really didn't know the big deal about Woz until last year.
I was writing for Upstart Business Journal at the time when I had several theatrical encounters with the man. First, I saw the premiere of the musical Nerds at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh. A few months later, I was assigned to watch Jobs: The Film (which Woz has publicly denounced) on its opening night and then follow it up with a screening of the 1999 biopic Pirates of Silicon Valley, comparing and contrasting the two movies. In all three shows, it was very clear.
Woz was a genius who created world-changing technology, but who also cared deeply for people.
Like, when three of Apple's earliest employees were left without shares when the company went public, he gave up some of his own. And he clearly tolerated Jobs at times when the man seemed insufferable.
In further (non-theatrical) research, I learned that he left the technology world in 1986 to complete his degree at the University of California at Berkeley (he dropped out to start Apple) and then spent eight years as an elementary school teacher. Hard to imagine any of today's popular techies doing that.
I'm intrigued that among his titles listed on LinkedIn is "World's #1 Tetris Champion." He's also a very public enthusiast of Teslas and Segways - he founded the Woz Challenge Cup, the world's first Segway Polo competition.
For the November talk, I hope he'll share about his most recent adventure as chief scientist at the struggling flash drive manufacturer Fusion-io. He's stayed put there despite 2013 resignations of most of its top executives and last month's emergency sale to SanDisk. (Perhaps his speaking engagements and frequent Foursquare-documented travel keep him preoccupied.)
The talk is happening sometime during the November 11-13 event at the Raleigh Convention Center. And today's email from organizers gives those who register before August 8 a chance to meet the man.
The full lineup of speakers will be revealed over the next few months. Check out those details on the event page.
And to get you prepped for Woz, here is a short video with excerpts of a commencement speech he gave to Cal Berkeley students last year.