Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and well-known philanthropist, spoke to a crowd of roughly 3,000 people at the University of North Texas Coliseum on Monday night.
The 50-minute question-and-answer session was moderated by UNT senior Adam Hasley, who asked a combination of his own questions as well as others that were posted on Twitter by audience members throughout the evening.
Wozniak, wearing a black polo shirt and bright-colored sneakers, talked about how he and Steve Jobs launched Apple and said that to this day, the creation of the Apple II computer was his biggest achievement.
“It was the computer that started everything — it was such a great product,” he said before he was interrupted by applause. “This product was going to be Apple’s only successful product for 10 years. It was that good of a product.”
The topics of the night jumped from cyber security to Wozniak’s top Tetris scores and favorite pranks, but some were more specific to the Denton community.
Hasley had Wozniak focused on talking about start-up companies, noting that a lot of tech companies are growing roots in Denton and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Wozniak suggested that students graduate college, get a job to pay the rent and then work on their next big idea on the side so they can finance their dream.
More than students were involved in the lecture, with local business owners tweeting along with students and UNT officials. Cindy Tysinger, CEO and founder of GSATi, a business and technology company based in Denton, was able to ask Wozniak about how to get young girls involved in science and technology.
Wozniak said that when he was teaching students in fifth through ninth grade, he noticed something odd. In fifth grade, boys and girls were at the same ability level and performing equally. But by the time they hit seventh grade, girls were reluctant to answer simple questions, even if they knew the correct answer.
“Something happened on a bigger scale in society to convince them it probably wasn’t their role in society, and I always felt bad about it,” he said. “We need to let girls discover they are as good as the boys at something at an early age.”
Wozniak, who goes by Woz, was the first speaker in this year’s Distinguished Lecture Series, the day after thousands of students moved into their dormitories.
A committee of faculty, staff and students decided to bring Wozniak to UNT after polling students last year. Previous speakers include actor Rainn Wilson and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.