Steve Wozniak Ends Full-time Employment at Apple

The Wall Street Journal once printed that I was leaving Apple because I was disgusted, even though I'd told the reporter that was not the case. If it were true, it's hard to imagine me staying on the payroll with employee agreements in effect. Every book from then on printed that story and it became history.

— Steve Wozniak

Aircraft accident

In February 1981, Steve Wozniak crashed his Beechcraft Bonanza while taking off from Santa Cruz Sky Park. The NTSB investigation revealed that Wozniak did not have a "high performance" endorsement (making him legally unqualified to operate the airplane), and had a "lack of familiarity with [the] aircraft." The cause of the crash was determined to be a premature liftoff, followed by a stall and "mush" into a 12-foot embankment. As a result of the accident, he had retrograde amnesia and temporary anterograde amnesia. He had no recollection of the accident and, for a while, did not even know he had been involved in a crash. He also did not remember his hospital stays or the things he did after he was released: he followed his previous routine (except for flying), but could not recall what had happened. He would walk into rooms and forget why he was there and couldn't even remember which day it was. For example, he would go to work on Sunday, or stay home on a Wednesday, thinking it was the weekend. He began to piece together clues from what people told him. He asked his girlfriend, Candice Clark (an early Apple employee who worked in the accounting department), whether he had been involved in an accident of some kind. When she told him about the event, his short-term memory was restored; Wozniak also credits Apple II computer games for aiding him in restoring those "lost" memories. Wozniak and Clark got engaged later that year.

Ending employment with Apple

Wozniak did not immediately return to Apple after recovering from the crash. Instead, he married Clark and returned to UC Berkeley under the name "Rocky Raccoon Clark" (Rocky was his dog's name and Clark his wife's maiden name), finally earning his undergraduate degree in 1986. In May 1982 and 1983, Wozniak also sponsored two US Festivals to celebrate evolving technologies; they ended up as a technology exposition and a rock festival as a combination of music, computers, television and people.

In 1983 he decided to return to Apple product development, but he wanted no more of a role than that of an engineer and a motivational factor for the Apple workforce.

Wozniak permanently ended his full-time employment with Apple on February 6, 1987, 12 years after creating the company. He still remains an employee (and receives a paycheck) and is a shareholder. He also maintains connections with Steve Jobs.