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Woz Up

May 7, 2013

When Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple Computer) finally graduated from Berkeley in 1986, 18 years after beginning his college career in Colorado, the name on his diploma read “Rocky Clark,” taken from the first name of his dog, Rocky Raccoon, and the last name of his then-wife, Candi Clark. Wozniak’s other nicknames include “The Woz” and “The Wizard of Woz.”

Wozniak used the Clark alias while finishing up his studies at Berkeley because he feared he wouldn’t have enough time to graduate as an A+ student, according to an LA Times article from the time. Who could blame him?

He had enrolled as a freshman at the University of Colorado in 1968, then spent his sophomore year at DeAnza Community College in Cupertino. After taking a year off to save up some cash, he made the move to Berkeley, only to drop out again in 1971 so he could make enough money for one last year.

Woz maintained that he never actually dropped out of college. “I simply took a year off to earn money for my fourth year of school. And then my career kept going up,” he said in the article. And go up it did. The tale of the Apple computer is one of the best-known modern American success stories.

Despite the success, there was still a missing piece of the story for Woz. He returned to Berkeley for that coveted, though by then arguably unnecessary, diploma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences, and gave the commencement address at Berkeley’s College of Engineering the very same year. Karl Pister, then dean of the College of Engineering, recalled in an interview, “I remember, he was nervous as the dickens before that speech. He was practically shaking.” According to another LA Times article, in his speech Wozniak revealed that “issues are … more complex … the answers not so obvious” as they had seemed in his first college try.

The Woz will give UC Berkeley’s 2013 commencement address on Saturday, May 18, at the California Memorial Stadium. Rocky Clark may also make an appearance.

—Justin Seiter

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