Steve Jobs Nearly Blew Up His Third Grade Teacher

Steve Jobs Nearly Blew Up His Third Grade Teacher

DYLAN LOVE TECH  JUN. 22, 2014, 12:35 AM

“His name is Steve. He likes to do pranks like you do, and he’s also into building electronics like you.”

When mutual friend Bill Fernandez introduced Steve Wozniak to Steve Jobs, he unwittingly changed computing history. The two were friends almost immediately, each impressed with the other’s intelligence and abilities, and would go on to form Apple in 1976.

But before they did that, they played some awesome pranks around their hometown, together and on their own.

In the early chapters of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, we get multiple looks at the devilish sides of the two Steves.

Jobs threw an unsanctioned “Bring Your Pet To School” day.

“I had a good friend named Rick Ferrentino, and we’d get into all sorts of trouble. Like we made little posters announcing ‘Bring Your Pet to School Day.’ It was crazy, with dogs chasing cats all over, and the teachers were beside themselves.”

If you rode a bike to school, Jobs caused you some trouble.

From Isaacson’s book:

[T]hey convinced some kids to tell them the combination numbers for their bike locks. “Then we went outside and switched all of the locks, and nobody could get their bikes. It took them until late that night to straighten things out.”

He had some fun with firecrackers in third grade, too.

“One time we set off an explosive under the chair of our teacher, Mrs. Thurman. We gave her a nervous twitch.”

Jobs’ pranks started involving electronics as he got older.

From the book:

At one point he wired his house with speakers. But since speakers can also be used as microphones, he built a control room in his closet, where he could listen in on what was happening in other rooms. One night, when he had his headphones on and was listening in on his parents’ bedroom, his father caught him and angrily demanded that he dismantle the system.

Wozniak used electronics with his pranks from the start.

“In twelfth grade he built an electronic metronome—one of those tick-tick-tick devices that keep time in music class—and realized it sounded like a bomb. So he took the labels off some big batteries, taped them together, and put it in a school locker; he rigged it to start ticking faster when the locker opened. Later that day he got called to the principal’s office. He thought it was because he had won, yet again, the school’s top math prize. Instead he was confronted by the police. The principal had been summoned when the device was found, [and he] bravely ran onto the football field clutching it to his chest, and pulled the wires off.”

Wozniak wasn’t afraid to get political.

“After arriving at [the University of] Colorado in the fall of 1969, [Wozniak] spent so much time playing pranks, such as producing reams of printouts saying ‘F— Nixon,’ that he failed a couple of his courses and was put on probation.”

The two teamed up for some potty humor in high school.

Jobs and Wozniak once glued a gold-painted toilet seat onto a flower planter belonging to their high school.

The infamous “Swab Job” prank sealed the friendship between Jobs and Wozniak.

“On a big bed sheet [mutual friend Allen] Baum had tie-dyed with the school’s green and white colors, they painted a huge hand flipping the middle-finger salute … They devised a system of ropes and pulleys so that it could be dramatically lowered as the graduating class marched past the balcony, and they signed it ‘SWAB JOB,’ the initials of Wozniak and Baum combined with part of Jobs’s name.”

Jobs said that the banner prank was the thing that sealed his friendship with Wozniak.

Wozniak loved confusing people by messing with their televisions.

“Wozniak built [a pocket device] that could emit TV signals. He would take it to a room where a group of people were watching TV, such as in a dorm, and secretly press the button so that the screen would get fuzzy with static. When someone got up and whacked the set, Wozniak would let go of the button and the picture would clear up … Eventually he would make people think they had to hold the antenna while standing on one foot or touching the top of the set.”

They called the Vatican and nearly talked to the Pope by impersonating Henry Kissinger.

While they were building “blue boxes,” electronic devices that enabled you to make long distance phone calls for free and otherwise stunt the telephone system, Wozniak called the Vatican and pretended to be Henry Kissinger.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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