Apple inventor Steve Wozniak was busted in high school for fake bomb

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The bars aren’t insulated from each other, if both wires from the light were attached they would short and trip the breaker. If just one was attached there would be no shock as the police/guard isn’t grounded through their shoes.

The metronome story is equally unbelievable.

This can’t be a real story…I think woz has finally lost it.
I guess he has access to the “good stuff”!

One wire still gives a pretty good unpleasant kick, due to the capacitive coupling to the ground. It’s however pretty safe, if you are insulated.

Don’t ask how I know. Ouch…

Same reason why a neon test light lights up when you touch the L wire even if you aren’t connected to the other end of the circuit. The body capacitance creates enough load for the neon bulb to light up. It even requires an additional current limiter, usually a 1 megaohm resistor in case of the 220V systems.

Why? You can alter the timing constant of the circuit by changing the resistor or the capacitor value, which is easy to do with a switch and another resistor/capacitor put in parallel to the original one.


I don’t question being able to change the timing on an electric metronome. I do doubt that a principal would carry the “bomb” to a field and disarm it, or that this story is true.

So you are saying that if I touch either wire going into a ceiling light I’ll get a shock? I’ve been shocked by live wires, but never when I haven’t been grounded. Maybe I’m just lucky? Also, have you ever been in any sort of lockup with bars? the lighting isn’t exactly accessible, nor would the wires reach the bars. again, probability of being a true story near zero.

If even 1/4 of Woz’s stories are true then Occam needs to sharpen his razor. He is always telling new stories exactly like these…so so so so so so so many of them. It is kinda his thing. I was joking that he finally lost it, he seems to have lost it a long time ago, but in a good way… He is like a crazy uncle, writing his own legend with tall tales, some of them probably based somewhat in truth, others not so much.

It was a time of the 'Nam war. Carrying a potential live ordnance may not have been anything unthinkable for said principal, depending on his personal history. In context of today’s wussified society it looks different, certainly.

Did you get at least a buzz? 220V makes pretty strong buzz from one wire. 110V is likely quite less intense, my one experience was with touching both wires with one hand (was helping tracking down a wiring issue when on holiday, was used to sockets having screws from the front, this one has them from the sides that I grabbed to pull it out of the wall, oops). It was a bit stronger buzz than what one wire at 220V gives. Both wires at 220V are… rather intense experience, avoid if you can or at least follow with a stiff drink that you deserve.

Somebody needs to ask Woz for the details. There may be some technical revelations in there; you can improvise a lot with a little and an engineer is likely to remember those details. Or the inconsistencies will be confirmed.


no buzz. Only 110V. I’ve never touched 220V thank god. I’ve been shocked from bridging two 110V wires and from a single wire while being grounded but never from a single wire while not grounded.

The way that all lockup bars are constructed this couldn’t have been a bridging two wires because they would have already shorted and tripped the breaker. All lighting here in the US is 110V right? I guess this is all speculation without any details.

I suppose there is a remote possibility that either story ~could~ be true, but taken along side all of his other stores the probability seems slim to me. I’ve known other tall tailers before, all very nice people, they just love to embellish and adapt stories. They are always good for a fun story, you just can’t take them at face value.

I’m sure the principles I had in high school would have, all while shouting look at me I am a big hero.


“Witness me!”


Shiny and chrome!

On the Principle-Hero front, I used to work at a Police Station in Britain. One of our coppers was patrolling the carpark at the local airport and spotted a “suspicious” white van (aren’t they all suspiscious?) with some wire hanging out of the back. Instead of leaving it where it was and calling the bomb squad, he 'jacked the vehicle and drove it down busy roads to park it outside the police station…


As much as I hate to say it (complacency shouldn’t be encouraged, it’s just sort of inevitable) you haven’t really learned anything about electricity until you’ve received a nasty shock or two.


My EE teacher taught me a trick (and more tricks, I had quite privileged position with him, he taught me a lot of extras). You can check if the mains circuit is live with reasonable safety; flick a fingertip of a straight finger over the wire. The involuntary muscle spasm will pull away if it is live.

I do it now always just before touching the circuitry even if I believe it is not live. Because there can be a lot of difference between believing and knowing. And any instrument can fail and any socket can be connected to a different breaker than what the documentation says.


There’s a hot and a neutral line to house wiring. The hot line will give you a shock when touched. Even if you’re wearing shoes. My brother used that to great effect while being chased by a friend; he stuck one end of a wire into the hot lead of the electric outlet and connected the other to the door knob. Said friend grabbed it and had a nice shock.

No it’s not as intense as if you’re grounded but it still shocks you.

When looking at a polarized outlet the hot lead is the smaller of the two slots.


I can just picture Woz’s principal sweating out on the football field wondering which wire to cut to disarm the bomb…


Similar to what a prof told us in a film lighting class I took. Always touch the light stand with the back of your hand first, because any contraction of muscles will pull your hand away instead of making you involuntarily latch on to it. (AC is kind of nasty like that.)


Woz is not only and excellent engineer and innovator, he also clearly understands the old Twain maxim ‘Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story’.

Telling stories isn’t so much a sign of a person who has ‘lost it’. But rather an indicator that the teller understands that truth is flexible and stories are universal. Perhaps he owes that to his Irish heritage from his mothers side.


I had a friend in high school who built a fake bomb and brought it to school one day. He then pretended to “find” the bomb in his locker, and went and told the principal he found a bomb in his locker. This was in 1986, I think. Anyway, the school was evacuated, and authorities were called. The fake bomb was taken out to the middle of the practice field behind the school, and destroyed. I never heard exactly what happened to my friend, but he wasn’t in school the next day, and didn’t return for about 6 months. He never talked about it, and we never asked.


It was quite usual at the time for high schools to have bomb scares - we had several.

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I still quite regret that I did not call in that we have a calorimetry bomb in the lab. (It was really there, a heavy nickel alloy vessel to which a sample is put and then gets burned in pure oxygen. You then measure the temperature difference of the assembly to calculate the energy content in the sample.) Perfectly true information.


In this case he actually made a fake bomb to scare the heck out of people. If you did this these days you would , deservedly, go to jail for a long, long time.
It’s not a really good example to make when supporting the kid who did not make a bomb.

Yeah, does no one else here think that Woz was kind of a dick for doing this? Especially since this was, you know, the late sixties? I mean, I did stupid stuff when I was a kid that could have landed me in jail, but I wouldn’t expect a “cool story, bro” reaction out of it.