Apple Inc. as we know it was started in a small garage in California in the 1970s. Its co-founders would set out to not only bring personal computers to homes across the globe but also to change the world for the better.
What most people don’t know is that Apple’s road to success hasn’t always been smooth. The company experienced trials, tribulations, scandal, and setbacks as it grew. This is the story of how Apple came to be the company it is today.
Jobs And Wozniak Meet
Bill Fernandez first brought together the historic duo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1971. At the time, Wozniak was 21 and Jobs was 16. Wozniak was a self-taught electronics engineer who started creating blue boxes that allowed people to make phone calls free of charge.
In 1976, Jobs, Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne started Apple Computer Inc. Ronald Wayne was formerly a chief craftsman at Atari. Soon after the company formed, Wayne dropped out of the company, selling his 10% stake back to the two Steves for the bargain price of $800.
The first computer they built was the Apple I. The Apple I had a few notable features. First, it had a TV display. Second, it could display 60 characters per second. Third, it had a very fast (for the time) load time.
After their first sale of 200 machines, Wozniak was able to greatly improve the design and function of the Apple II. In 1977, the Apple II was introduced at a computer fair and it caught the interest of Toshio Mizushima. Mizushima would be the first Japanese Apple dealer.
In 1980, Apple III was introduced. Although it was a conservative design, Jobs pushed for this model to not have a cooling fan. A cooling fan on a computer was crucial at the time to prevent it from overheating or even catching fire. The Apple III would eventually be recalled as thousands of people complained about it overheating.
Apple Computer was quickly becoming a name to watch. What started as a small workshop business in a home in California became the second-largest small computer company of its time. Apple hoped to focus its efforts on business, education, and personal computer markets all over the globe.
By 1981, Apple had become one of the three largest computer manufacturers, even surpassing Radio Shack as the leader. At this point, the only thing slowing Apple’s growth was its capacity to keep up with demand. When IBM's computer hit the market, a divide could now be seen between Apple loyalists and essentially everyone else.
The Lisa group was hard at work designing a new computer that would introduce the world to terms like desktop, icon and mouse. In order to create the Lisa model, Xerox granted Apple three days of access to their facilities in exchange for $1 million pre-IPO stock. This was unprecedented for the two companies.
By 1984, it became clear that Apple was the only real competitor to IBM's influence. The marketing of this machine included a single television commercial that cost $1.5 million. The 1984 commercial consisted of a heroine in a white tank top with a picture of the Macintosh computer on it who would save humanity from "Big Brother".
Jobs And Wozniak Leave Apple
Wozniak eventually left Apple, stating that the company was going in a different direction than he would have liked. He continues to represent Apple at events and interviews and he receives an annual stipend of $120,000 per year. In 1985, Jobs was removed as the general manager of the Macintosh division.
Apple’s Corporate Performance
Over the next couple of years, Apple would undertake five acquisitions, including Network Innovations, Styleware, Coral Software and Nashoba Systems. This was a busy time for Apple in terms of sales and acquisitions. Apple also released a compact version of the Apple II. This version would be known as the Apple IIc.
1989-1991 was considered to be the golden age of the Mac. The Mac family would include releases such as the Mac SE, the Mac II, the Mac Classic, and the Mac LC. Portable Macs were also released in 1989 including the not-so-popular Macintosh Portable.
The Early 1990s
In the 1980s, Amiga and Atari ST platforms were among Apple’s foremost technology rivals. IBM PC computers were still more popular than any of these three, however. The early ‘90s were some of the most poorly managed years in Apple’s history. Production and profits took a hit in the early 1990s.
In the mid-1990s, Apple began to release personal digital assistant devices also known as PDAs. These would inspire the Palm Pilot and Pocket PCs that would emerge later in the ‘90s. In 1994, Apple launched an online service that would provide email and news called eWorld.
The Late 1990s
With the end of the Macintosh cloning era, market shares dropped quickly from 10% to 3%. Steve Job’s company, NeXT, was eventually bought out by BeOS to sell its operating system to Apple. In 1996, Apple acquired NeXT and the operating system. NeXT became a part of Apple to help with their operating system efforts.
Steve Jobs Returns
In 1997, Gil Amelia was removed as the chief operating officer of Apple. Apple appointed Jobs as the interim CEO and he began a massive restructuring of the company and its product line. Jobs eventually became the chief operating officer and he would remain in that position from 1997 until August of 2011.
Microsoft And Apple
In 1997, Steve Jobs made the announcement that Apple would partner with Microsoft. The five-year commitment meant that Microsoft Office would be available on Macintosh computers as well. This $150 million investment in Apple showed a new partnership between Steve Jobs and Microsoft's Bill Gates.
The iMac And iBook
One of the first things Jobs did as the chief executive officer was to develop the iMac. With time to restructure, Apple was able to create an iMac with a CPU and CRT display in a new and improved, streamlined, translucent plastic body. This line was a major success. Apple sold around 1 million iMacs each year.
Mac Operating System
Apple introduced its Mac OS X operating system in 2001. The operating system was based on NeXT’s operating systems and incorporated FreeBSD parts. This operating system was aimed at professionals as well as home consumers.
Retail Stores Open For Business
After much speculation and anticipation, in May 2001 Apple made the announcement that they would be opening their own line of brick-and-mortar Apple stores. The new Apple retail stores would be located in major computer markets throughout the United States and eventually the world.
The iPod Is Born
Apple introduced the iPod in October 2001. The iPod was Apple's first portable, hand-held digital audio player. The first version was able to store 5 GB music player that could store around 1,000 songs. The iPod gave a big boost to Apple’s revenue.
The New iMac
In 2002, Apple moved over to a reimagined and completely new iMac design. This iMac had a G4 processor and an LCD display. The new iMac 4G was white with a hemispherical base. There was also a flat panel all-digital display. The iMac was supported by a chrome neck that could swivel.
In late 2003, Apple opened its first Apple retail store abroad. The first store was located in Tokyo in the Ginza district. In the following years, Apple opened stores in Nagoya, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Sendai, Sapporo, and London on Regent Street.
Apple Web Services
Apple introduced its first iTools service in 2000. These free web-based tools included an email account, an iReview consumer review site, iCards for digital greeting cards, and KidSafe which aimed to keep children on safe browsing sites.
In 2003, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store. iTunes boasted 2 million downloads in its first 16 days. By October, iTunes supported music purchased through Apple as well as Windows. This was the only music store that was available in the United States at the time due to licensing restrictions.
Steve Jobs announced that Apple would begin producing Apple computers that were Intel-based Macintosh models in June 2005. The company had been working on versions that were cross-platform compatible.
The company eventually shortened its name to Apple Inc. in 2007. Steve Jobs addressed the change during his keynote address at the MacWorld Expo. Jobs explained that the name change reflected the broadening of their brand beyond just computers.
The iPhone became available to the public on June 29, 2007. By 2008, iPhone 4 was released. In 2011, a Verizon model was released, followed by a Sprint iPhone model in 2011. This was released shortly after Steve Jobs passed away.
Apple announced the release of its iPad on January 27, 2010. By April 2010, the iPad was released commercially. The iPad went into the iOS line of products. The iPad had the same applications as the iPhone but the screen was twice the size.
In recent years, Apple has continued to see a resurgence of success. This is in part due to the importance of smartphones and tablets in our culture, as PC software has become less important in recent years.