From our 5-part series on Silicon Valley Pioneers meet Andy Hertzfeld known as “software wizard” at Apple computers. He was part of the original Macintosh team at Apple computers. In the 1990s Hertzfeld along with his colleague Bill Atkinson and Marc Porat cofounded General Magic and their goal was to produce a personal communicator device. 

In Part-1 of our conversation Hertzfeld shares how he discovered his love for computers in high school in Pennsylvania. He thought he would become a math professor and had no idea he would be working as a computer scientist in an iconic Silicon Valley company. 

After completing his undergraduate degree from Brown University he relocated to San Francisco Bay Area for his graduate studies at University of California Berkeley. Hertzfeld vividly recollects the first time he saw an Apple Computer in a store at Berkeley and was completely captivated by it. Not long after that he bought his first Apple computer and that changed his life completely. He spent the first evening just turning the on and off switch on his new Apple computer. This was his first personal computer that he could use anytime he wanted.

Hertzfeld shared how that first Apple computer changed his whole life and how he built his first software program for it while he was a student at Berkeley and then with the help of a friend pitched the software to Apple Computers. And, it was that first Apple software program he wrote that brought him attention from Apple Computers and Steve Jobs. While Apple did not buy the software program he wrote they offered him a job. He decided to get his Master’s degree and not pursue his PhD degree and joined Apple Computers in 1979. At Apple he write software programs for their products and came to be known as “software wizard,” and there is a reason why he was got that title.

Tune back in for Part-2 of our conversation with Hertzfeld where he talks about his work at Apple computers and working with Steve Wozniak and cofounding General Magic. Over the decades his love for Macintosh products has not diminshed and he still loves using their products.

This conversation is part of Season 4 of our Silicon Valley Pioneers series that spotlights the role of  “hidden figures” in Silicon Valley.  This 5-part series featuring Hertzfeld and Atkinson is sponsored by Zoho.

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