The part of this interview with Steve Jobs I identified with was this:
I got to know this man, whose name was Larry Lang, and he taught me a lot of electronics. He was great. He used to build Heathkits.
... I mean you looked at a television set you would think that "I haven't built one of those but I could. There's one of those in the Heathkit catalog and I've built two other Heathkits so I could build that." Things became much more clear that they were the results of human creation not these magical things that just appeared in one's environment that one had no knowledge of their interiors. It gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one's environment.
I had a similar influence with my dad. Although he wasn't handy with electronics he could fix cars and pretty much build whatever he wanted with metal or wood. He would always show me how something worked by lifting the hood of an engine and explaining what was going on with the wires and tubes, or showing me how a wall should be framed and explaining the physics of it. He'd always take a break with what he was doing to explain why he was doing it.
When I got older it became second nature for me to not just accept something worked, but take it apart and learn how it worked (and probably break it). I wasn't comfortable using something like an iron or a bicycle gear without having some idea what was going on on the inside.
I broke a lot of irons and bicycle gears. And doorknobs. And this one gun that shot sparks. Slot cars. Other people's slot cars...
When I finally got my hands on a computer I could program, I set to learning how software was made by typing in all the sample code from the backs of magazines. At first I was completely perplexed as to what I was typing, but slowly I'd start to notice patterns and pick up what variables were by noticing if I changed a number from 10 to 50 I'd have 50 bullets instead of 10 when I played the game. It was kind of magical, I could make the computer do anything I wanted it to do—or at least I had some idea what was going on.
Though never really all that excited about making free calls, I was fascinated with the phone system for some time. It was an open playground of stuff people didn't know about or took for granted. You could call numbers that would tell you what number you were calling from, you could amaze your friends with ring-backs, there were party lines you could talk to other people on and they'd give you numbers to try out. And holy crap, this thing had been in our house all this time!
Eventually I got bored. The people you met were kinda odd. And then there were these silly "hacker crackdowns" fanned by luddite-journalists in need of a boogey man as the Cold War was ending. It felt a lot like it does now with the silly terrorism plots and bird flu they've now latched on to. Either way something I enjoyed toying with became a black art, and I moved on to other things. Around that time I became aware of the Internet and college and the rest is history.
I was glad to read this interview because I've always had an admiration for Gates and Woz as being engineers, but never thought of Steve as one, or having a background similar to mine.