Apple (1976)


Jobs and Wozniak way back in 1974

Apple was founded on April 1, 1976 after Steven Wozniak and Steven Jobs decided to sell their first computer to the public. Steven Wozniak and Steven Jobs had been friends in high school and after working for companies in Silicon Valley, Wozniak in 1976 designed what would become the Apple I. After Jobs proposed the machine to Atari without success Wozniak and Jobs decided to sell their product themselves.

Hobbyists did not take the machine seriously until 1977 when the company released the Apple II at a local computer trade show. The first personal computer to be cased in plastic and colour graphics, made this computer an impressive machine. Orders for Apple machines started to arrive at an impressive rate and increased in the ’78 with the introduction of the Apple Disk II. The Apple Disk II was inexpensive and very easy to use. In 1979 following the historic visit to Xerox PARC Jobs and several other engineers began developing the Lisa which would redefine personal computing. Jobs, however was a poor project manager for Lisa project, and was replaced by Mike Markkula and then president of Apple with the major stockholders. Jobs with only 11% of Apple, decided to take over someone else project and began working with the Macintosh, which started as a $500 personal computer.

With the increase in sales in 1980 the company expanded and further more when the Apple III was released.

The Apple III was one of the key roles for the company.

By this time Apple had several thousands of employees, and started to sell computers abroad. Apple had taken on a number of experienced managers and investors as board directors. In February 1981, with a market saturated with computers and with IBM releasing its first PC, and being supported by Big Blue with its finance and its reputation the PC quickly began to dominate the computer market. Jobs began to realize that Apple must become a grown up company, and realized he was the man for the job. Apple was forced to lay off 40 employees, and Jobs became chairman of Apple computer in March after Wozniack was injured in a plane crash, and took a leave of absence. Job’s team would have to work quickly in order to compete with IBM. In 1983, Jobs contacted John Scully and in April Sculley became president .

Although a successful businessman, it soon showed up that Sculley did not know much about computer industry. As the announcement of the Macintosh was closer, Jobs worked harder to get developers to write programs for the upcoming machine. On January 22, 1984 during the Super Bowl Apple showed it’s commercial introducing the Macintosh.

A screenshot of the commercial spot launched during the Superbowl in 1984

The commercial which was directed by Ridley Scott, depicted the IBM world being shattered by a new machine. Initially it sold very well but in Christmas of 1984 sales went down mostly because it started to be considered outdated with its lack of memory, and lack of hard drive. In the beginning of 1985 Jobs and Sculley began to argue. Jobs decided to take control of the company and in May 1985 Jobs enticed Sculley for a meeting in China, and planned to stage a boardroom while Sculley was gone, but Sculley was informed with Jobs plan and he decided to confront Jobs. After a heated argument the board decided to side with Sculley. Jobs had to resign that day, leaving Sculley as the head of Apple. Over the next few months Apple forced to lay off a 1,200 employees, and posted its first quarterly loss. In the meantime Scully started a battle with Microsoft’s Bill Gates over Windows 1.0, which was similar to the Mac GUI. Gates finally agreed to sign a statement that Microsoft would not use Mac technology in Windows Ver 1.0 but it said nothing of future versions of Windows. This led Apple to lose exclusive rights to its interface design. Also this would prove to be an important document for future law suits between Apple and Microsoft. With the introduction of the Laserwriter which was the first affordable PostScript laser printer for Mac, made the Mac a better solution for inexpensive publishing.

1987 was the introduction for the Mac II. The Machine was built with expandability in mind, and made the Macintosh line a viable, powerful family of computers. More than 50,000 macs a month was being shipped which helped the company to go back in line. By 1989 windows seemed that it would be a flop and that Mac would dominate the Market, but by 1990 the market was saturated with PC-clones of every conceivable configuration, and Apple was the only company which was selling Macs. By late May Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, which ran on all PC Compatible machines and Apple had to face a new problem. Apple’s ideas where or to license the Mac OS or to port Mac OS to IBM compatible PC but Apple could not provide both the hardware and the software to drive an industry, but Michael Spinder Apple’s new COO stated that it was too late to license.

The Powerbook 150 Launched in 1991

In Late 1991, Apple released its first generation of PowerBooks with a great success and started a new type of computer,the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) codenamed Newton. Sculley took a great interest in Newton, and forced the company to complete the Newton in August 1983. But problems started to arise especially in hand writing recognition which led in poor sellings. This affected Sculley to lose interest in the day operations of Apple, and in June 1993 the board of directors decided to relieve Sculley of his position as CEO, putting Spindler in the big chair. Sculley stayed a couple of months with Apple and resigned. Spindler showed up that it was the wrong man for the job however in his two and a half years he accomplished several important tasks. In 1994 Apple announced its PowerMac family which were based on the PowerPC chip produced by IBM and Motorola. Spindler also managed to license the Mac OS to several companies, including Power Computing which cloned Mac. Mac OS licensing agreements were very restrictive and was not enough to stop Microsoft from dominating the industry. Apple’s most problem was not selling computers but building them and by June 1995 Apple had $1 billion dollars in back orders. To add more problems Microsoft released Windows 95, with better Mac GUI. In winter 1995-96 misjudging the market, Apple pushed low-cost performas over mid-range PowerMacs, with the result of no profit at all and posted a $68 million loss for that quarter. In January 1996 Spindler was forced to resign from CEO and was replaced by Gil Amelio at the time former president of National Semiconductor.

Amelio made a strong effort to bring Apple back on feet, but without any success. Following his 100 day as CEO, Amelio announced major changes in the company structure. Amelio split the company into 7 separate divisions with their own profit and loss. The first quarter was closed with a $740 million loss but the second quarter he managed to get the loss to $33 million and on the third quarter with a profit of $30 million. December 1996 Apple announced that it will acquire NeXT(Steve Jobs new company), and that Steven Jobs would return to the fold. The merger was brought about in order to acquire NeXT step which was the basis for Apple’s new OS, Rhapsody released in 1998. Also Newton department was renamed to Newton INC. After the company lost another multi million Gil Amelio had to resign. The board felt that Amelio had done all he could for Apple. In the meantime Fred Anderson, Apple’s CFO, has been put in charge for the daily running of the company and Steve Jobs was given an expanded role. With no CEO and Apple stock lower than it had been for the past 5 years there were many decisions to be taken and not much time. Jobs started to make drastic changes to the company including the cancelling of the Newton spinoff which eventually was discontinued several months later.At MacWorld Boston in August 1997 Jobs who by now was referred as interim CEO announced the upcoming aggressive advertising campaign for new Macs and Rhapsody.

Macworld event, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates announced that the two companies had entered into a historic agreement.

He also announced an almost entirely new Board of Directors, including Larry Ellison CEO of Oracle. But the best was in a breaking decision, which announced an alliance with Microsoft for $150 million in Apple stock. Microsoft and Apple would have a 5 year patent cross-license and, more importantly a final settlement on the ongoing GUI argument. Microsoft agreed to pay an unreleased sum of additional funds to quiet the allegations that it had stolen Apple’s intellectual property in the design of Windows OS and announced that Office 98 will be available for the Mac users. Although Apple started to live again Jobs was not satisfied. Jobs felt that clone Mac was taking a big share of Apple Market so the company bought Power Computing’s Mac OS license and much of its staff. Power went out of business several months later. Apple bought out its Mac OS licenses from Motorola and IBM, but Umax was allowed to stay in the game, and understood that it would fill the low-end market, with machines selling under $1000 and eventually sold its remaining inventory of Macs for a new system called Wintel. November of the same year Apple held another press conference, in which Jobs announced further changes to Apple’s corporate strategy. Apple would sell computers directly, both over Internet and the phone, as power computing had done so well in the past. Jobs also announced a series of new computers the PowerMac G3 and the PowerBook G3. The Apple store was a runaway success and within the first week Apple was the third largest eCommerce site on the net. By January 1998 Apple announced that for the first time in more than a year, it had a profitable first quarter of $44 Million, and by April another profitable quarter of $57 Million, which came as a big surprise to nearly everyone. May was the month of the PowerBook G3, an educational Apple store, and an entirely new Mac design the iMac. The iMac would be the answer to the low end consumer question, with more than enough computing power for most people, at an affordable price. Apple also announced that a dramatic shift in Apple’s OS direction. Mac OS X would merge OS 8 and Rhapsody later code named NeXTStep, into one robust OS, with all the features of a modern OS and backward compatibility with most OS 8 Applications. In July 1998, Apple had profited for the 3rd consecutive quarter of $101 Million. With iMac as the best selling computer in the nation, it drove apple sales well beyond most predictions.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs launching an iPod shuffle MP3 player in 2005.

iBook was launched on July 1999. Based on the same principles of iMac, the iBook brought style to the low-end portable market. Several months later Jobs announced the PowerMac G4 a significant new professional desktop machine. In January 2000 Apple announced a series of internet applications called iTools and an exclusive partnership with Earthlink as Apple’s recommended ISP. Jobs also announced that he would be the permanent CEO of Apple. Apple’s sales continued to rise, as did the stock -price, which had climbed to 130 by early March. By the end of 2000 Apple shares went up and down mainly due for the launch of G4 Cube. In the consecutive years Apple introduced various new peripherals such as MP3 players, PDA’s and introduced the iPod, a small hard-drive based digital music player and represented Apple’s first hardware addition to its digital hub strategy. On August 24, 2011, Jobs resigned his position as CEO of Apple, and unfortunately in October 2011 the sudden death of Steve Jobs shocked the world. With all the technology brought by Steve Jobs changed our way we use computers and devices. Today Apple is one of the computer giants industry in the world.