"His name is Steve. He likes to do pranks like you do, and he’s also into building electronics like you."
When mutual friend Bill Fernandez introduced Steve Wozniak to Steve Jobs, he unwittingly changed computing history. The two were friends almost immediately, each impressed with the other's intelligence and abilities, and would go on to form Apple in 1976.
But before they did that, they played some awesome pranks around their hometown, both together and on their own.
1. Bicycle Locks
In elementary school, Jobs somehow, don’t ask me how, got every kid in the school to give him the combination of their bicycle locks. He then proceeded to switch all the locks and put people’s chains on their friends’ bikes.
When school was out, no one was able to open their bikes to go home. People stayed till late that night to get it all sorted out. Steve Jobs never was very concerned about how people would feel about his actions, but this takes that to a new level as these were his friends.
2. Bring Your Pet to School Day
Pretty sure I laughed out loud when I read about this prank. Jobs created signs and hung them up all over school announcing “Bring your pet to school day”. Of course, there was never supposed to be such a day as far as the school was concerned, but that did not stop Jobs.
Well, the students all came to school with their pets and as Jobs describes it ” It was crazy, with dogs chasing cats all over, and the teachers were beside themselves.” I would have liked to be a fly on the wall of that school.
3. TV Noise Generator
Steve Wozniak at his youth gravitated almost exclusively towards high-tech pranks. During his first year in college, he built a pocket-sized circuit that could jam TV signals. He would take it to a dorm room where a group of people were watching TV and secretly activate the device. The TV screen would go fuzzy, and Wozniak would wait for someone to get up and hold the rabbit-ear antenna at a certain angle in an effort to improve reception. Once the person was in sufficiently awkward position, perhaps with his or her hand in front of the screen, Wozniak would deactivate the device and the picture would clear up. As soon as the person sat back down, Wozniak would jam the signal again. He would continue until everyone in the room insisted that the person stand holding the antenna for the remainder of the show.
4. Blue Box
While some of the above pranks were mean and too far, this prank, as Jobs described it, paved the way for the forming of Wozniak and Steve’s working relationship, that would eventually lead to the forming of Apple, and the rest is history. Woz and Jobs created what was known as the Blue Box, which when connected to a telephone would enable you to make calls for free, anywhere in the world. It would become the first thing Jobs and Woz would commercialize, if you can call it that.
In any case, they used the box to make many prank calls with the funniest one to the Vatican asking to speak to the Pope and identifying himself as Henry Kissinger. Of course, they never got through to the pope, but the creation of this box involved breaking into libraries, replicating the tones that routed signals on the AT&T network, and creating the world’s first digital tone generator. It is kind of ironic that the Blue Box story came to an end when one of the units were stolen from Jobs and Wozniak at gun point, which terrified them and made them move on.
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