When Josh McSavaney stepped onto his floor in Computer Science House after a long day of classes, he had to stop and do a double take.
“I thought, ‘Oh, hey look—Steve Wozniak is in my dorm,’” says McSavaney, a fourth-year computer security student from Columbus, Ohio. “I never thought that would happen.”
The inventor, computer engineer, programmer and co-founder of Apple Computer, also known as “Woz,” stopped by RIT’s Computer Science House for an impromptu tour Oct. 7. Drew Gottlieb, a first-year computer science student from Tampa, Fla., had invited Wozniak to visit the special interest dormitory after hearing he had visited a friend at RIT on Saturday and was still in the Buffalo area keynoting a HighEdWeb Association conference.
“Woz is very responsive to his fans on his public email and he is always checking in on Foursquare, so I knew he might be around,” says Gottlieb. “Although he is an insanely busy guy, he said he’d love to come up and see our dorm.”
Wozniak wandered the hallway as students showed off the on-floor server room and several of their projects, including a networked vending machine that allows students to order items online using a credit system and a homemade classic arcade cabinet. Students got to ask him what movie he wants to see (His answer was Gravity, which he saw that evening at Regal Henrietta, according to Twitter) and if it was true that he used to stay up four days straight to work on projects. His answer was yes.
“He is a natural storyteller and he loves teaching people,” says Gottlieb. “As he told about building the Apple I and Apple II computers in the late 1970s, he said, ‘Don’t be afraid of failure, because I’ve been able to learn from failure many times before.’”
“He started the personal computer revolution and most of us will be working in the world of personal computers, so we have a lot of respect for the guy,” says McSavaney, the chairman of Computer Science House. “It’s definitely an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Computer Science House, founded in 1976, is located on the third floor of Nathaniel Rochester Hall. The dorm, which features specialized computing resources and participates in hands-on learning, has more than 50 on-floor and off-floor members.
To watch a news clip about Wozniak's visit, go to the RIT University News YouTube channel.