Baby Boomer Steve Wozniak is a cult hero to those of us who love Macs. He also is a hero to those of us who love a great practical joke. It will be fun to see how people react to him as a dancer on Dancing with the Stars.
Steve Wozniak – Woz – was the co-founder of Apple along with another super star Baby Boomer Steve Jobs. While Jobs remains active, some say too active, at Apple, Woz has just lead the life of an unreformed juvenile delinquent, while drawing a paycheck from Apple for doing nothing.
- While still in school, Woz had very realistic classroom assignment cards printed up which he substitute for the real classroom assignment cards. It took the entire morning to sort it all out.
- Wozniak made a “zapper” to disrupt TeeVee signals at his command. At one point, he had his college roommate holding the rabbit ears above his head with one hand on the screen to get a “clear” picture. More recently, some prankster bloggers took it further and bought a zapper. They went to a Consumer Electronics Show and screwed up all the signals. They said they were sorry.
- Wozniak even pimped his own partner at Apple – introducing the Zaltair (totally fake) at a major Apple show.
When the first Apple was introduced at the First West Coast Computer Faire, Wozniak decided to unveil something else: the Zaltair, a computer he made up. He printed fake brochures with appalling puns such as “verZatility”, “BAZIC” and “perZonality”, sneaked them into piles of legitimate promotional material, and then blamed somebody else. Years later, Woz confessed. “I went out to dinner with Steve Jobs and told him the whole thing,” Woz said. “He was beside himself. He had never once suspected me.”
- Wozniak convinced a waitress he was Pavarotti.
- He convinced the feds he was the “Laser Safety Officer, Department of Defiance.”
- Called the Pope pretending to be Henry Kissinger. When someone said they would wake the Pontiff, Wozniak quickly hung up.
So what happened to pranks?
- TeeVee. Starting with Chuck Barris, who was in Smallburg, KY last weekend, and The Gong Show, all the way through major motion pictures, Jackass, people realize if they have a great prank it is their shot at 15 minutes of fame.
- Youtube.com. Pranksters do pranks for attention. (Personal experience.) Back in the day, to get the attention one had to hang around while the prank was happening and enjoy the chaos and then fess up. Now, pranksters do their thing, record it, and put it on the web.
My best prank in high school was with my Baby Boomer band-buddy, Brad. I played Baritone – technically Euphonium, he played Tuba – technically Sousaphone, the big one that wrapped around him like an yawning anaconda. During marching season, the band was divided into squads. We were a part of g-squad.
There were rules in band. Brad and I made up our own set of rules. G-Squad Laws. Aside from the title, it was a typewritten page full of gibberish. Double-talk.
Since I had access to the school mimeograph, I took the title of publisher and ran off a hundred or so copies and we passed them out.
The band director and principal were just sure this was subversive material meant to discredit and ridicule the band director. (They got the second part right.)
I’m sure if this happened today, I would have been arrested, psych-evaluated, and medicated.