Woz, Empire, and a tale of early Apple copyright violation
Over on Modern Mechanix
, commenter Rick Auricchio shares several anecdotes about the early days at Apple, including a little late night copyright violation by Sir Woz himself:
We used to line up a half-dozen of the VCRs and copy tapes. Just plop ‘em on an unused desk, cable ‘em all up, and push all the buttons. This was bad enough, but then Steve Wozniak wanted a tape of the newly-released “The Empire Strikes Back.” He bribed a San Diego projectionist to “borrow” the print from the cinema and drive it to Los Angeles in the dead of night. After several hours in a transfer facility, he had a 3/4″ U-Matic professional copy of the film print, and the projectionist high-tailed it back to the cinema to return the print. That tape also made its way into the copying chain. We were perhaps the first half-dozen people with videotape copies of the film. (I discarded my heavily-letterboxed copy years ago…)
Woz later mentioned that the 4000-foot film reels wouldn’t fit the 3000-foot tables on the transfer machine, so they spent extra time cutting the print into sections that would fit, then spliced it back into its original form. Film companies, however, are very cautious that nobody steals frames from a film, lest they be printed into illegal still photos. The prints were examined to detect frame-stealing. Woz never asked whether the splices got the projectionist into any trouble; an occasional splice could be due to a film break, but not several at regular intervals.
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