Randy Wigginton

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Randy Wigginton
Occupation(s)Software engineer, Square, Inc.
Years activeApple, Inc. (1976-1985)
Known forCreator of MacWrite, Full Impact

Randy Wigginton was Apple Computer's sixth employee,[1] creator of MacWrite, Full Impact, and numerous other Mac applications. He used to work in development at eBay, Quigo, Inc and Move.com.[2] In November 2010, he left his position as a "site reliability engineer" at Google Inc., purportedly after leaking news of a $1,000 holiday cash bonus to employees.[3]

Early life[edit]

Wigginton was a student at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California, interested in computers just as the earliest microprocessor-based computers were being assembled by hobbyists. Around the age of 14, he had heard about the Homebrew Computer Club, but had no way to get there until he started getting rides with another club member, Steve Wozniak, who lived down the street from Wigginton's family home.[4] The two became friends, and Wigginton became one of Apple's earliest employees in 1976, and was present with Wozniak when the Apple I was first presented to the world at a Club meeting.


Wigginton collaborated with Wozniak on the circuit design and ROM software for the Apple II in 1977. As Wozniak wired up color graphics circuitry, Wigginton wrote machine language graphics subroutines, and Chris Espinosa, another high school student, wrote demo programs in BASIC. Wigginton wrote several early programs for the Apple II, including a checkbook-balancing program co-authored with Apple's vice-president of Marketing Mike Markkula. Wigginton was one of the Apple employees who adapted Microsoft's 6502 BASIC for the Apple II; it was dubbed Applesoft BASIC. The Applesoft BASIC Reference Manual includes a section entitled "Rounding can be Curious", in which it is documented that the ROUND function, which rounds a number to a prescribed accuracy, is not monotonic: in other words, for some x and y, such that x<y, ROUND(x)> ROUND(y). (The problematic ROUND function does not appear in Applesoft II, the version that most Apple II users are familiar with.)[citation needed]

Perhaps his most critical early contribution was the RWTS (read/write track-sector) routines for the Disk II, the 514" floppy disk controller introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show in early 1978. Wigginton and Wozniak wrote the final version of the software in Wozniak's hotel room on the eve of the show.[citation needed]

In 1979, Apple President Mike Scott asked Wozniak to write a secret competitor to VisiCalc, to use as leverage against Personal Software. Wozniak was reluctant because he was unsure whether creating a rival spreadsheet software would be copyright infringement, so Scott ordered Wigginton to do so. With help from Wozniak and Gull Banks, Wigginton developed The Spreadsheet, codenamed "Mystery House". He later claimed that it "became the most incredibly intense political football you can imagine ... the product was completed and had manuals when Apple decided not to sell it". Call-A.P.P.L.E. in 1982 briefly distributed it before Apple withdrew permission, making The Spreadsheet a cult classic because of the rarity and Wozniak's involvement. Wozniak wrote the math routines as they could be used for other software, Banks wrote disk routines, and Wigginton wrote most of the code.[5][6]

Wigginton was a member of the original Apple Macintosh design team.[7] Wigginton left Apple in September 1981 and formed Encore to work on his own. However, he was quickly contracted by Apple to help work on MacWrite on a semi-formal basis. When the Macintosh shipped in 1984 he again turned to his own projects, starting a new spreadsheet program that would eventually be released as Full Impact.

Following his career at Apple, Wigginton worked as an engineer at companies including eBay, Google, Chegg, and Square, Inc., among others.[1]


  1. ^ a b Jay Yarow (15 October 2015). "These Were Apple's First 10 Employees". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Move.com Expands Team, Hires MacWrite Creator". SocialTech. 2 November 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Google Fired an Apple Legend for Leaking Internal Memo". Gawker.com. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
  4. ^ Steven Levy (19 May 2010). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. O'Reilly Media, Inc. ISBN 9781449393748. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  5. ^ Wise, Deborah (3–10 January 1983). "Apple asks users' group to close off The Spreadsheet". InfoWorld. p. 1. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  6. ^ Williams, Gregg; Moore, Rob (January 1985). "The Apple Story / Part 2: More History and the Apple III". BYTE (interview). p. 166. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  7. ^ Lemmons, Phil (February 1984). "An Interview: The Macintosh Design Team". BYTE (interview). p. 58. Retrieved 22 October 2013.

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