Start-ups

Steve Wozniak: 2 counterintuitive reasons I was able to build 'A+' products when Apple first started

Steve Wozniak speaking at eMerge in Miami on June 12, 2017.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

In 1976, Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs in a Silicon Valley garage.

The iconic tech company has grown to have a market capitalization of more than $850 billion. In the three months February, March and April, the iPhone and Macintosh computer maker reported quarterly earnings of $58 billion, according to its April 30 financial statement.

Apple's legendary success as a company, however, was not what co-founder and designer Wozniak was hoping to achieve when he was first building the company. Wozniak designed Apple's first products, the Apple I and II computers and he helped design the Macintosh — because he wanted to use them and they didn't exist.

"I did it not for a company, I did it because I wanted it myself," Wozniak told YouTube entrepreneur Patrick Bet-David in 2010.

"If you can convince somebody to want something inside for their own personal reason, they really see something that they want to do and they really feel it in their heart — that's when you get a lot more done," Wozniak said.

"You can't motivate people with a high enough salary to do what you will do when it is for your own self. Or to show off, even!" Wozniak said.

Bill Fernandez, Apple's first employee, knew Steve Jobs (right) and Steve Wozniak (left) since childhood.
Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In addition to his passion, Wozniak says there were really two counterintuitive factors that meaningfully contributed to his innovation at Apple.

"Everything I did at Apple that was an A+ job and that took us places, I had two things in my favor," Wozniak said: In the beginning, he had a tight budget, and he'd never done such things before.

Today, Apple has more than $225 billion in cash, according to its April 30 filing, but it wasn't always so flush.

"I had no money" early on, Wozniak said in the 2010 video. "That meant I had to figure out ways to do things very inexpensively. I had to get a lot out for the least in," Wozniak said. "And I was very good at that."

And when Wozniak and Jobs first built Apple, "every single Apple project — computers, hard disks, everything — I had never designed those things ever in my life," Wozniak said. "I had had no training in them, but I was so good at taking the little parts — like pieces of wood to build a building — that I could architect something that was perfect. And really better than the people that were used to doing it would do."

And while some education and training is important, according to Wozniak, what's more crucial is to be able to think creatively.

"[A] person who knows how to take the little elements and build on them, and write the book of how you actually put them into play, a person who comes up with the ability to write the book, I think is better than someone who knows how to do it from past experience," Wozniak said.

Wozniak says it was because of his relative inexperience that he didn't have "normal" expectations, and that gave him a competitive edge. As a result the disks and computers he designed used a fraction of the chips others did at the time.

"If I had had experience, I would have designed things with 50 chips instead of eight chips," Wozniak said.

See also:

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak: Motivation is more important than knowledge for achieving success

How to raise the next Steve Wozniak, according to Steve Wozniak

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak's formula for happiness doesn't have anything to do with money

VIDEO1:0901:09
Here's how to raise the next Steve Wozniak, according to Steve Wozniak

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