“A game like this might take most engineers a few months,” Wozniak recalled.
“I thought that there was no way I could do it, but Steve made me sure that I
could.” So he stayed up four nights in a row and did it. During the day at
HP, Wozniak would sketch out his design on paper. Then, after a fast-food meal,
he would go right to Atari and stay all night. As Wozniak churned out the design,
Jobs sat on a bench to his left implementing it by wire-wrapping the chips onto
a breadboard. “While Steve was breadboarding, I spent time playing my
favorite game ever, which was the auto racing game Gran Trak 10,” Wozniak said.
Astonishingly, they were able to get the job done in four days, and
Wozniak used only forty-five chips. Recollections differ, but by most
accounts Jobs simply gave Wozniak half of the base fee and not the bonus
Bushnell paid for saving five chips. It would be another ten years before
Wozniak discovered (by being shown the tale in a book on the history of
Atari titled Zap) that Jobs had been paid this bonus. “I think that Steve needed
the money, and he just didn’t tell me the truth,” Wozniak later said.
When he talks about it now, there are long pauses, and he admits that it
causes him pain. “I wish he had just been honest. If he had told me he
needed the money, he should have known I would have just given it to
him. He was a friend. You help your friends.” To Wozniak, it showed
a fundamental difference in their characters. “Ethics always mattered to me,
and I still don’t understand why he would’ve gotten paid one thing and told
me he’d gotten paid another,” he said. “But, you know, people are different.”
When Jobs learned this story was published, he called Wozniak to deny it.
“He told me that he didn’t remember doing it, and that if he did something
like that he would remember it, so he probably didn’t do it,” Wozniak recalled.
When I asked Jobs directly, he became unusually quiet and hesitant.
“I don’t know where that allegation comes from,” he said. “I gave him
half the money I ever got. That’s how I’ve always been with Woz. I mean,
Woz stopped working in 1978. He never did one ounce
of work after 1978.
And yet he got exactly
the same shares of
Apple stock that I did.”