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Steve Wozniak tells us why he left Apple Computer, the company he founded, in his new book, iWoz.

AFTER the US festivals and graduating from Berkeley * I went back to Apple as an engineer. I didn't want to be an executive. I wanted just to design circuits and apply clever ideas.

But it was weird because I was in the media mainstream and had so much other stuff to do.

I was called by the press and computer groups, and I was working on philanthropic projects like the San Jose Ballet and The Tech, a San Jose computer museum.

I could come up with an architecture idea - such as speeding up the processor five times - but other engineers designed the chips.

I felt it wasn't critical for me to be there, even though I loved Apple.

I was working in the Apple II division after the Apple III project was closed, so the engineers from that department just gravitated around me.

It was fun.

And there were cool people with cool projects starting in my building. On the next floor down from me they were finishing up the Apple IIc. This was as small as today's laptops except it plugged it into a wall. I thought it was a beautiful computer, my favourite one to this day.

One of the engineers was Joe Ennis, the kind of guy I love who's so enthusiastic and passionate about the products he's working on and where they can go and what he could do with them. He had great ideas about extending the Apple II into areas far beyond anything even the Macintosh people talked about.

He thought you could have an Apple II programmed to be a complete telephone switchboard. Today, switchboards are cards you plug into a computer. He imagined storing voices digitally and you could route them to other channels.

I HAD this nice home up in the Santa Cruz Mountains with high-end audio and video equipment. By that time TV sets and VCRs had remote controls. I had laser discs, so I had a remote control for that too. I had an expensive hi-fi system from Bang & Olufsen with a remote. That was rare.

I got a satellite TV through a friend, Chuck Colby, who was building custom dishes for people. But man, there it was. Another remote control.

So I would turn on the TV with one remote and maybe I'd turn on the hi-fi with another, and then I would press buttons for the satellite channel and I turned on my VCR to pass a signal through it.

I am sitting in bed operating all of this equipment with different remotes. It was crazy. I wanted one remote with one button programmed for all my devices.

A single button to sequentially emit many infra-red codes corresponding to buttons on other remotes. That meant that the buttons on my control were like macros; exactly like a program.

I realised that soon people would need more remote controls and it would become a problem, like it was for me.

I talked to a few people about this idea and I got excited because I realised how easy it was to build. A little microprocessor looks at the codes coming in, stores the data, and outputs the same codes when you press the buttons.

And I thought, I'm the one to do it. And I really did become the first person in the world to do what is now known as a universal remote control.

I built a programming language into the remote, a beautiful language I was proud of.

I was still at Apple when I got this idea. And I started telling people like Joe Ennis about it. I pitched real heavily to Joe the whole idea of "Let's leave Apple and start this company".

I never felt like I was turning my back on my own company.

Apple was a large company, and it wasn't and still isn't the love in my life. The love in my life is starting small companies with small groups of friends. Bringing new ideas out and trying to build them.

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