For our latest exclusive Gamasutra interview, noted computer engineer and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak offers a rare interview
as he reflects back on experiences spent developing Breakout
for Atari, as well as Steve Jobs' gaming habits, and the influences of video games on the personal computer industry.
In this excerpt, Wozniak says gaming had an 'extremely' influential part in inspiring his career as both an engineer and computer designer:
“Extremely. Totally, for the Apple II. As a matter of fact, it was those four days that I did at Atari doing Breakout that really influenced the Apple II, to make it as special as it was. I saw hints of color. It was fake color with Mylar color overlays on a screen. I saw hints of color on a screen at Atari those nights, and I thought, "How gorgeous that looks."
That was when I was very sleepy, and an idea popped in my head for generating color on American TVs with a $1 part. And God knows it was an unusual scheme -- so unusual it might not even work. It was weird, but boy, that was important. I was pressed to try to find..."Is there an idea? A way to generate color easy on these digital games?" And that was totally spurred by seeing whatever game it was that had Mylar overlays at Atari.
Also, I heard that they were going to use microprocessors eventually. So when I got into microprocessors in a later year -- microprocessors to build a computer -- I was constantly thinking, "for games." And the computer by itself meant nothing to me. It had to have a programming language. So I wrote a programming language, BASIC, and I called it "Game BASIC." Every single note, every single folder I ever have, called it "Game BASIC." It had two purposes: a language that you could program games, and my work at HP. I mean, It was totally designed to be a language that was good for games.”
You can read the complete interview here
, with more insights from Wozniak on the industry he helped create, including more on the creation of the Apple II, and Atari's successes when video games were in their infancy (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).