Steve Wozniak was our keynote speaker this morning at the Iowa Technology Education Connection (ITEC) conference. He may be one of the few people that talks faster than I do!

Here are some highlights from his speech, which basically recounted his life path that led to co-founding Apple:

  • We are born with an innate creativity and a desire to learn and explore.
  • He had numerous opportunities as a child to have authentic learning experiences with electronics and computers. His parents, teachers, and neighbors connected him with electrical parts, local experts, and other resources.
  • In high school he used to sneak into the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to read computer manuals. He then used that knowledge to design logic diagrams for computer chips.
  • He started the first Dial-A-Joke in the Bay Area.
  • His college career was spent pushing the edges of his universities’ computing capacity as he wrote FORTRAN programs at five times the rate of the rest of his class, snuck into unused computer facilities at midnight to run his code, etc. He was so obsessed with computing and coding that he just had to do whatever it took to satisfy his desire to learn and create.
  • He deliberately designed the Apple II so that people could get in “under the hood” and tweak/modify stuff.

It was a pleasure to hear his speech. He’s a great example of a self-directed, playful learner who refused to let anything get in his way and who believes in the empowerment of learners to tinker and explore.