Woz’s surprise birthday bash — and a product launch


Fusion-io‘s parties have gotten pretty good since Steve Wozniak, c0-founder of Apple, became the company’s chief scientist. Tonight, the company threw a surprise birthday bash for Woz at the fancy Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Hundreds of party-goers yelled “Surprise!” and sang “Happy Birthday” to Woz, who thought he was going to a product launch.

In fact, he was going to a product launch. Fusion-io, after all, has a board of directors and it wouldn’t look kindly on the company squandering a bunch of money on a private birthday party. So the company slipped in a cool visual light show highlighting the launch of its Ion Data Accelerator software, which can improve the computing efficiency of the corporate data centers that keep the internet humming.

The new product is a switch for Fusion-io, which makes flash-memory cards for high-performance data center computers known as servers. Those memory cards speed up the performance of the computer by storing memory in fast caches populated by row upon row of flash memory chips.

But the Ion Data Accelerator is software turns servers into open computing platforms with shared acceleration devices for multiple applications or clusters. It shares the ioMemory in a system across servers or applications, and it produces quicker response times and the ability to handle traffic spikes when lots of users converge on a web site.

But back to the party. David Flynn, chief executive of Fusion-io (pictured above left), gave a toast to Woz for inspiring his team to do great things. Flynn presented Wozniak with a framed picture of his very own DNA, obtained a couple of months ago when Woz’s wife, Janet Wozniak, got him to swab his cheek. The artists then took the DNA sample, decoded it, and made a painting (pictured above) from it.

Woz said that he believes that hardware is cool, but software is what makes it valuable, and that was what Fusion-io’s product launch was all about. A big chubby engineering comic (pictured above) with geeky glasses popped out of a birthday cake. Then he proceeded to worship Woz because he appeared on Dancing With the Stars, making engineering nerds seem cool. The comic proceeded to pull a card trick and then flashed the answer to the crowd by pulling down his pants and bending over. (Yes, it was too much information).

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