Innovation Blog

Steve Wozniak’s EUREKA moment:  How Color Came to Apple Computers:

* with thanks to Blog reader Yoav Medan,  Insightec, for drawing my attention to this Eureka moment: 

Steve Wozniak:

     ” Nobody expected color to come into computers, at the time it  cost $1,000 and it took  tons of chips. I figured out how to do it with one little $1 chip. I was  without sleep for four days and nights, because [Steve]  Jobs and I got a project to design a game for Atari, it was called BREAKOUT and we needed the money.  I worked  four days and nights without sleep.  Games  in those days  were hardware — chips and voltage.  I  didn’t think it was possible to do it in four days, but we did, we  designed the whole thing in four days.  When you go without sleep, and then when you’re going to fall asleep, your head goes into a state of creativity, you are not restricted to normal thoughts.  That day, my head was in this floating state.  Now on the Atari floor, Atari was  only B&W, but they had this thing going across the TV screen changing colors, and they used little strips of Mylar (thin plastic)  on the TV screen to do it,  I thought it was so beautiful,  Steve was wiring up the board for Atari, and I started drifting, you know , thinking that signals from color TVs go up and down, so I thought, what if you made a signal that went up and down at different rates, would it look like color?     Then, oh my gosh, Eureka!  I figured out how 0,1 bits circling around, up and down, and red would become blue,  different patterns,  I had 16 patterns  (2 to the fourth power),  lighter, darker, color!  Finally I wired it up a year later, and brought Steve [Jobs] over, that was Eureka! It worked!   We knew this was a big change in the world.

    Sometimes you are not sure if something will work, and we did not follow all the methodology, all the science in the book, but the idea was similar enough so that it might work..and it did..”