7 Insights from Apple’s Garage Startup

How Jobs and Woz Built the World's Favorite Company

Do you have a garage, basement or spare room? If so, you may own valuable commercial real estate. Apple Computers, Disney and Google all started in garages.

- Apple Computers were invented in a garage. -

– Jobs and Wozniak with the Apple II (Apple I in background). They did a lot of work in the Jobs garage. –

Learn 7 steps to make your garage into the next successful startup space.

1. Identify Your Interests

Steve Wozniak, affectionately known as “Woz” grew up loving electronics. But Woz didn’t just play around with electronics, he took them apart and rebuilt them.

Woz was passionate about the technology that would someday make personal computers possible although they weren’t invented yet. What do you love doing? Believe it or not, there is an awesome product in your area of interest that hasn’t been invented yet.

2. Get Started

In his book, iWoz, Steve Wozniak gives credit to his dad for teaching him to dabble in electronics. When Woz was in his early 20’s, computers were so large that they filled entire rooms. As circuit board technology shrunk, Woz unwittingly entered an emerging market: hobby computing.

After you identify your interests, choose one and get started doing it! Watching a few educational videos about it on YouTube or reading an informative blog can be helpful, but taking action is the best way to learn. In a sense, Woz stumbled upon his billion dollar success. But he never could have stumbled if he hadn’t taken those first steps.

3. Work With Others

Woz joined the “Homebrew Computer Club” in March 1975. Computers were nothing like what he have now – they didn’t even have keyboards or screens. Bringing his friend, Steve Jobs, to many of the garage meetings, Woz enjoyed socializing with others who wanted to make computers more useful to ordinary people.

Without Steve Jobs, Woz would have likely faded into obscurity without an invention to his name. Woz was a behind-the-scenes type guy, and didn’t realize the significance of his latest build: a small computer with a keyboard that hooked up to a TV monitor. As basic as it sounds today, Woz did not realize that his addition of a keyboard and monitor would transform the world, that he was an inventor like Edison or Tesla. But Jobs did.

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4. Invest in Yourself

The guys at Homebrew were impressed by Woz’s work, but his buddy Steve was a man of action. Computers were sold in kits at the time, and few people, even at the computer club, had the expertise or time to put them together. When Jobs suggested that he and Woz invest in enough computer chips to sell 50 pre-made circuit boards, Woz couldn’t see how they would ever make their money back.

Jobs didn’t argue the point because his vision was already much broader than a few sales. “Well,” Jobs countered, “even if we lose our money, we’ll have a company. For once in our lives, we’ll have a company.”

5. Make Sacrifices

Neither Woz nor Jobs had the $1000 they needed to buy the parts for those first circuit boards. They didn’t ask for handouts, instead Woz sold his HP calculator (the technological equivalent of an iPhone 7 at that time), and Jobs sold his VW van. Together they fronted the $1000 that would grow into billions.

- Woz sold his HP calculator and Jobs sold his VW van to buy the first materials for Apple Computers. -

– Woz sold his HP calculator and Jobs sold his VW van to buy the first materials for Apple Computers. –

“Apple Computer,” Jobs said out of the blue on a ride back from the airport with Woz. It was two weeks after they had formed the company and they needed a name. They both loved it. Apple it was.

6. Do What’s Right

As excited as he was about forming a company with Jobs, Woz had made a promise to his current employer that he knew came first. According to his employment contract with HP, everything that Woz designed while employed there was company property. Woz could have quit his job then lied about when he designed his computer. He could have made the excuse that the contract did not seem fair. Instead, he did the right thing.


When Woz told his boss, Pete, about what he had made, Pete set up a meeting with Woz and division manager, Miles Judd. Woz believed HP could manufacture his computer for less cost than the models they were currently working on. But HP didn’t like the monitor idea. Citing quality control concerns, Judd and the others in the meeting complained that the picture would not be consistent with various brands of TVs which would cause customer dissatisfaction. They didn’t think of producing their own monitor. Woz couldn’t sell a few corporate bosses, but his computer was about to sell like crazy across the world.

7. Keep Your Day Job

Yes, I just told you to keep your day job. But don’t take it as an insult. Woz was at work showing off his completed circuit board to his fellow engineers when he received a mind-blowing phone call from Jobs. “Are you sitting down?” Jobs asked. Without giving him a chance to take a seat, Jobs blurted out the news, “I’ve got a $50,000 order!”

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Woz was stunned that, in an instant, their brand new company could net over twice his annual salary. One more time he approached HP, this time their chief legal department. After two weeks of deliberation, they sent Woz a letter stating that they relinquished any right to his design. Woz and Jobs were elated! The Apple Computer Company was theirs!

Eventually, Woz would quit his job at HP to work full time with Apple. But early on their startup business was far from a sure thing, and Woz was smart enough to know he needed a stable income. When the time was right, Steve Wozniak left HP on good terms to be an engineer with his new company, Apple.

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So what are your interests? Take out an old-fashioned pen and paper or maybe your Apple computer and jot down a few ideas. Then get started!

Question: What do you do in your garage? Leave a comment, then click on the Facebook icon to post! You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.