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
KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (, a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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