After a pleasant year at De Anza, Wozniak took time off to make some money.
He found work at a company that made computers for the California Motor Vehicle Department, and a coworker made him a wonderful offer: He would provide some spare chips so Wozniak could make one of the computers he had been sketching on paper. Wozniak decided to use as few chips as possible, both as a personal challenge and because he did not want to take advantage of his colleague’s largesse.
Much of the work was done in the garage of a friend just around the corner,
Bill Fernandez, who was still at Homestead High. To lubricate their efforts, they drank large amounts of Cragmont cream
soda, riding their bikes to the Sunnyvale Safeway to return the bottles, collect the deposits, and buy more. “That’s how we started referring to it as the Cream Soda Computer,” Wozniak recalled.
It was basically a calculator capable of multiplying numbers entered by a set of switches and displaying the results in binary code with little lights.
When it was finished, Fernandez told Wozniak there was someone at Homestead High he should meet. “His name is Steve. He likes to do pranks like you do, and he’s also into building electronics like you are.” It may have been the most significant meeting in a Silicon Valley garage since Hewlett went into
Packard’s thirty-two years earlier. “Steve and I just sat on the sidewalk in front of Bill’s house for the longest time, just sharing stories—mostly about pranks we’d pulled, and also what kind of electronic designs we’d done,” Wozniak recalled. “We had so much in common. Typically, it was really hard for me to
explain to people what kind of design stuff I worked on, but Steve got it right away. And I liked him. He was kind of skinny and wiry and full of energy.” Jobs was also impressed. “Woz was the first
person I’d met who knew more electronics than I did,” he once said, stretching his own expertise. “I liked him right away. I was a little more mature than my years, and he was a little less
mature than his, so it
evened out. Woz was
very bright, but
emotionally he was my age.”