Concordia University

Honorary degree citation - Steve Wozniak

By: Brian Edwards, June 2011

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Steven Gary Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc, engineer, inventor, innovator, and philanthropist.

A self-professed computer geek and Silicon Valley icon, Steve Wozniak is first and foremost an engineer. His curiosity about how things work and electronics in particular was nurtured early, by his father, also an engineer. Wozniak’s recount of his childhood experiences invariably includes stories about inventing and learning about electronics: he was among the youngest amateur radio or “HAM” operators; then at age 13 he invented an Adder/Subtractor, and with his childhood friends built themselves an improvised house-to-house intercom system. Like his boyhood hero, Tom Swift, young Steve Wozniak believed his aim was to do good for others, and later found his vocation in electronics and engineering. Describing his experience of creating the “Adder/ Subtractor” at age 13, Wozniak has remarked on how “…so many levels of electronics, logic, binary number theory, soldering and all of the experiences of my life…just added up…”.

His innovations, each of them important firsts, have quite simply shaped the computing industry. In 1976, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced his Apple II personal computer, featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a floppy disk drive. Wozniak remembers the day in 1975 in which he was first able to see on a screen something typed on a keyboard – technologies we take for granted now, developed by Wozniak.

From his first job at HP designing calculators (remember this was when slide rules were the norm ….) to his inventions that formed Apple, and his later work on the creation of the universal remote, Wozniak has demonstrated a passion for electronics and making technology accessible to a broader audience.

In 1981, Wozniak returned to his studies at the University of California at Berkeley and completed his degree in electrical engineering/computer science. For his achievements at Apple Inc., Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1985, the highest honour bestowed on leading innovators in the United States. In 2000, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award (for Technology, the Economy and Employment), recognizing his innovation in personal computing and commitment to education.

His fierce work ethic is an important part of Wozniak’s story. Wozniak believes that persistence and patience in learning, particularly for engineers, is key to success.

Au fil des ans, M. Wozniak s’est investi dans diverses entreprises commerciales et philanthropiques, s’intéressant principalement aux capacités informatiques des écoles et encourageant tant l’apprentissage pratique que la créativité des élèves. Consacrant une très grande partie de son temps et de ses ressources à l’éducation, il a notamment « adopté » le district scolaire de Los Gatos, en Californie, où il a fait don d’outils technologiques de pointe pour favoriser un enseignement axé sur la pratique.

He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. He serves as Chief Scientist for Fusion-IO and is a published author with the release of his New York Times best-selling autobiography, iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon. And some of you will remember his television appearances, including Dancing with the Stars.

In Wozniak’s words, “this much I know for sure: I was meant to be an engineer who designs computers, an engineer who writes software, an engineer who tells jokes, and an engineer who teaches other people things.” He does all of these things very well, and has a gift for conveying complex, technical concepts in a way that’s not only simple and accessible to non-engineers, but exciting and inspiring as well. The Woz (as he is known) has broken the rules with flair and creativity, creating the foundation of an industry that we take for granted as fundamental to our daily lives. Integrity and dynamic creativity are his hallmarks.  Down-to-earth, full of humour, and curiosity, he continues to inspire others with an infectious passion for electronics, computing, and learning. Even his dancing can be said to be an inspiration

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Steven Gary Wozniak so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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