Friday, Jul 09, 2021, 14:09 Hardware

Wozniak On Apple's Repair Policy: Without Open Technology – There Would Have Been No Apple

Although Steve Wozniak hasn't been active at Apple for decades, he's still a source cited frequently in the media. Although this isn't without controversy – his statements have been known to lead to quite the discussion in the past. Wozniak often argues from the perspective of a computer engineer from the 70s and sometimes his statements seem a bit past their due date. He's now added his voice to the "Right to Repair" debate as an advocate of open technology. In his view, without the freedom that Apple enjoyed at the time of its founding, the company wouldn't have existed at all – which is why Wozniak is a firm supporter of open tech.

The Golden Age Of Repairs Is Over
In earlier, perhaps happier times, one could easily repair TVs and radios – circuits and replacement parts were available in almost every electronics market. It was even possible (and without any serious expertise necessary) to remove transistor tubes from those old tube TVs and to test and exchange them as a result of defects. Back in the days when Wozniak designed the Apple I, open blueprints were an important tool. In order to figure out how to use a normal TV as a monitor, he was able to rely on such exact blueprints so that he could appropriately modify the corresponding components to his preference.

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Apple I & II Were Very Open
As another example of open architecture, Wozniak points to the Apple II – introduced during the company's first ten years and the company's main source of sales. Even for this device, all blueprints were available. In recent years, the world of technology has changed so considerably that the question has become "is that your computer, or a company's computer?" According to Wozniak, we should return to the times when repairs could easily be done at home or taken to a shop to perform.

Wozniak also doesn't leave the argument that modern electronics have gotten to be much too complicated unchallenged. This argument is often used in defence of companies – since electronics have become too complicated, simple repairmen couldn't possibly grasp how to fix the issues, and so companies have a moral obligation to protect customers. Although this may of course the case in some rare instances – as soon as someone finds a working solution, third party parts can't be stopped. However, due to Apple's unwillingness to license third party parts manufacturers – it's nearly impossible for them to sell such parts at the moment. Wozniak compares the current dilemma to that of the "Ma Bell" monopoly (Mother Bell – Bell Telephone Company) of the past – the company's power over the market was reigned in by lawmakers due to anti-trust positions.

Response
YouTuber and business owner, and Mac motherboard repairer Louis Rossman, recently released a video about Steve Wozniak's recent statement. The reaction is quite interesting and Rossman also delves deeper into the Right to Repair debate from the perspective of a tech junkie repairman.


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