Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Declares Support for Right to Repair

In a nine-minute Cameo, the co-founder of Apple talked about how important it is for people to be able to fix their own stuff.

Jul 8 2021, 3:20pm
State of Repair is Motherboard's exploration of DIY culture, device repair, ownership, and the forces fighting to lock down access to the things you own.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has come out for the right-to-repair, which is crucial because Apple is one of the strongest opponents of right-to-repair. 

“I’ve read a lot of articles about the right-to-repair issue,” he said in a Cameo. “I’m always totally supportive and I totally think that the people behind it are doing the right thing.”

YouTuber and right-to-repair advocate Louis Rossmann commissioned the Cameo; it's not exactly clear what Rossmann asked for, but Wozniak spoke on the issue for nine minutes, detailing his personal history repairing TVs and the importance repair played in the creation of Apple. “We wouldn’t have had Apple if I hadn’t grown up in a very open technology world,” Wozniak said. In a response video, Rossmann simply said he "reached out" to Wozniak about the issue.

According to Wozniak, he grew up tinkering with televisions and the process taught him the basics of engineering. The only electronic thing that was off limits in the house was the telephone, which was owned by the monopolistic phone company Ma Bell. The Ma Bell monopoly ended in 1982 and Wozniak speculated how far phone technology might have come if it had been easier to tinker with the devices earlier on.

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“You can repair a lot of things at low cost, but it’s even more precious to know that you did it yourself,” he said. “So why stop them? Why stop the self repair community? Why stop the right-to-repair people?” 

Though Wozniak hasn't worked at Apple for years, his support is crucial. Apple has been one of the staunchest opponents of right-to-repair legislation. The company has repeatedly lobbied against bills that would make it easier for consumers to repair their things, and has sowed fear, uncertainty, and doubt among lawmakers who have considered this legislation. Wozniak said Apple wasn't always this way.

Wozniak credited the open nature of the Apple II with the company’s early success. “Look at the Apple II. It shipped with full schematics, designs, and software code listings. Totally open source,” he said. “Apple II was modifiable and extendable. People figured out how to convert the display into having lower case characters with their own hardware added. This product was the only source of profits for Apple for the first ten years of the company. This was not a minor product and it was not that successful on pure luck. How was Apple hurt by the openness of the Apple II I wonder?”

Half the states in the country are considering laws that would protect our right-to-repair. Biden is drafting an executive order to protect farmer’s right-to-repair their own equipment. Similar legislation has passed in the New York state senate and a federal bill has been entered into Congress. 

“It’s time to recognize the right-to-repair more fully,” Wozniak said. “I believe that companies inhibit it because it gives the companies power, control, over everything. In a lot of people’s minds, power over others equates to money and profits. Is it your computer or is it some company’s computer. Think about that.”

Tagged:

Apple, State of Repair, Right to Repair

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