Technology

Apple co-founder Woz brings tech to Comic-Con in Silicon Valley

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had a front row seat as the personal computer began to reshape society.

So it made perfect sense to him to bring a convention meshing technology with pop culture to Silicon Valley.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak brings a techie angle to Comic Con in Silicon Valley.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak brings a techie angle to Comic Con in Silicon Valley. Photo: Nic Walker

The convergence will occur from March 18-20 in San Jose, California, with the debut of Silicon Valley Comic-Con. It's a new twist on an idea that has brought together fans of science fiction, fantasy and superheroes at packed shows held around the world for years.

"I don't like doing the same thing as everyone else," Wozniak said. So he teamed with four other partners to try something slightly different.

At Comic Con, fans dress up as their favourite characters.
At Comic Con, fans dress up as their favourite characters. 

Throwing technology into the mix should ratchet up the nerd vibe that ripples through all Comic-Cons. A sold-out crowd of about 30,000 engineers, entrepreneurs and pop-culture connoisseurs is expected to swarm into the Silicon Valley event.

The agenda includes a panel devoted to the quantum realm and an "app alley" featuring products from technology start-ups. The marquee attractions on the entertainment side include William Shatner from the original Star Trek and Back To The Future stars Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson.

Wozniak, 65, is confident the hybrid convention will be a hit.

"The emotions we have for technology now are the same as we get for movies, celebrities and the whole pop culture side of our lives," he said.

Sarah Groenewood dressed as Wonder Woman at a previous Comic Con event in Melbourne.
Sarah Groenewood dressed as Wonder Woman at a previous Comic Con event in Melbourne. Photo: Luis Ascui

That veneration of technology helped turn Wozniak's late partner, Steve Jobs, into an icon – and his October 2011 death into a worldwide wake.

Wozniak himself has become better known through recent movies that retold the story of Jobs and Apple, as well as his guest appearances on TV shows such as Dancing With The Stars and The Big Bang Theory.

He now works at a Silicon Valley start-up, Primary Data, and also spends about a third of the year on the road, mostly giving speeches and making other public appearances.

"Everywhere I go in the world, people just say, 'Thank you, thank you,' even if they don't happen to own an Apple product," Wozniak said.

"They are just saying thank you for being a part of it all and want to show their love."

Silicon Valley Comic-Con is the first major event that Wozniak has backed since the early 1980s.

While on leave from Apple following an aeroplane crash, he financed the US Festivals, a pair of three-day concerts held in the southern California desert. The events, which featured top acts such as The Police, Talking Heads, The Clash, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac, drew massive crowds yet still managed to lose about $US26 million, according to Wozniak.

He said that won't happen at Silicon Valley Comic-Con, which has already sold enough tickets to turn a profit. Some tickets, which cost from $US25 to $US99 ($A35 to $A139), are still available.

AP

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