In December 1974, the magazine ‘Popular Electronics’ pictured the Altair 8080 on its cover, headlined ‘World’s First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models.’ But it was left to the consumer to actually put the kit together, get it working and write the software! The private computer market was about to take off. The magazine article was the spur which led to the founding of Microsoft, after Bill Gates struck a deal with Altair manufactures Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems to produce software for the
The birth of Apple
The magazine also caught the eye of Steve Wozniak who at the time worked for Hewlett Packard, producing calculators. Wozniak spent his spare time playing with early computer kits similar to the Altair and considered them all too complicated for hobby computer freaks. He also realized that computer parts such as microprocessors and memory chips had fallen in price to such an extent that building his own computer was no longer a mere dream – it was now within financial reach. He got together with fellow computer buff Steve Jobs. On 1 April 1976 they released the Apple I computer and launched Apple Computers in Los Altos, California together with another friend Ronald Wayne, who dropped out a few months later.
Apple I was displayed at a meeting of “The Homebrew Computer Club” – a computer hobby group to which Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs belonged. A local dealer ordered 100 Apple I computers with the proviso that Wozniak and Jobs would do the assembly – to which they agreed. They built and sold around 200.
In April 1977, the Apple II was released and shown at the first West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. Apple Computers were firmly established, quickly pulling ahead of two other PCs launched that year – the TRS-80 and Commodore PET. Although more expensive, the Apple had the advantage of colour graphics and a floppy disk drive. Over two million Apple IIs were sold.
When Apple went public in 1980, its stock value was $117 million.
In May 1980, the Apple III was launched as the company competed against IBM and Microsoft, who gained a considerable share of the computer market in the early 1980s.
In 1984, Apple launched the Macintosh or Mac as it became widely known, with a $1.5 million commercial shown during the Super Bowl XVIII. Sales at first went well but repeat orders were poor. However, sales quickly picked up after the introduction of the LaserWriter printer. With this, the PageMaker programme and advanced graphics, the Mac got a firm footing in the world of desktop publishing.
In 1985, Jobs resigned from the company following an internal power struggle which he lost. Jobs founded NeXT Inc. Steve Wozniak also left Apple to pursue other interests but remains a major shareholder.
In 1989, the portable Macintosh computer was released, but its bulk meant that Apple had to rapidly rethink the design. With the input from industrial designers including Sony, in 1991 they came up with the PowerBook 100 – the forerunner of today’s laptop. During these years, Apple’s technological innovations made its products market leaders.
But Microsoft was not sleeping and Windows development began to overtake the Apple Macintosh - to the extent that Apple sued Microsoft for theft of intellectual property. The case dragged on for years before being finally thrown out of court. At this time Apple’s management was in chaos and various product flops caused the public to lose faith. Apple continued to lose ground to Microsoft Windows.
In the mid-1990s, Apple teamed up with IBM and Motorola in an attempt to counteract Microsoft’s advance. The Power Macintosh was released in 1994 using IBM and Motorola hardware and Apple software. But through the mid to late 1990s, the various attempt at improving Apple’s operating systems seemed to go awry. Apple considered using various operating systems including Microsoft’s Windows NT and NeXT’s NeXTSTEP OS. The latter was finally chosen, bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple. In July 1997, CEO Gil Amelio was fired after considerable financial losses, Steve Jobs took over as interim CEO and restructuring began.
Back in the black
In 1998, just one year later, the iMac computer was introduced. A new all-in-one Macintosh aimed at a general market, featuring an innovative new design with a translucent plastic case, initially in Bondi Blue and white and later in other colours. It was a huge success, selling 800,000 pieces and bringing in a $309 million profit in that year - the first profitable year for five years. The Power Macintosh was redesigned along similar lines and its development continues.
In May 2001, Apple opened Apple retail outlets in prime locations in the U.S.A, to have a more direct influence on the market and thus increase sales. Apple continued to be innovative. In November 2001, it introduced the iPod portable digital audio player, with sales of over 42 million and Apple’s iTunes Music Store offering online music downloads at 99 US cents. By early 2006, 1 billion downloads had been chalked up.
In June 2005, Steve Jobs announced that Apple was to produce Intel-based Macs. The MacBook Pro notebook computer and a new iMac were released in January 2006, both with Intel’s Core Duo chip technology. The Intel chip allows the latest computers to run the Windows operating system.
It is clear that Apple, with Steve Jobs at the helm, will continue to be innovative and keep many customers who are totally devoted to the brand.
There is no doubt that Apple is a computer cult.
Stephen Wozniak was born on 11 August 1950 in Los Gatos, California, where his father was a Lockheed engineer. The area, now known as Silicone Valley, was then already a centre for technology.
Inspired by his father, Steve “Woz” Wozniak was into electronics from a very early age and constructed various devices from kits or from scratch, including a voltmeter, ham radio, calculator and games. After leaving high school he went to the University of Colorado but quickly dropped out. While working for Hewlett-Packard producing calculators he met Steve Jobs, another computer hobbyist obsessed by electronics. They joined forces to found Apple Computers.
Although Steve Wozniak made a fortune, it was the technical aspect of the business which fascinated him. In 1981, a plane he was piloting crashed on the runway and it took two years for him to recover from his injuries and amnesia. During that time he became involved in other ventures, sponsoring concerts and pursuing New Age interests. In 1983 he returned to Apple, but left for good in 1985. He then attended Berkley University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in computer science and electrical engineering. In 1985, the two Steves, Wozniak and Jobs, received the National Technology Award from President Reagan.
Steve Wozniak started various other businesses and donated considerable sums to charitable causes, his local school in Los Gatos, technology museums, and universities. In 2005, he received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.
He now once more lives in Los Gatos, California with his wife and six
Steve Paul Jobs was born on 24 February 1955 in San Francisco, California to an American mother and a Syrian father. They later married and gave birth to Job’s sister, novelist Mona Simpson, whom he first met as an adult. Steve Jobs was raised by adoptive parents, Paul and Clara Jobs, first in Mountain View and then in Los Altos, California. His adoptive father was a machinist at Spectra-Physics, and Steve’s early interest in technology was inspired by his father's work.
During his schooldays, Steve Jobs attended after-school lectures at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, California. He also worked there as a summer employee with Steve Wozniak, with whom he later founded Apple Computers. After graduating from high school, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, but dropped out after just one semester.
He went back to California and in 1974 joined the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Wozniak. He got a job with Atari, manufacturer of video games in order to save some money. He used his savings to backpack through India with Daniel Kottke, a Reed College friend, before returning to his job at Atari.
It was around this time that Jobs and Wozniak developed the Apple computer. They launched the Apple I and Apple Computers Co. on 1 April 1976.
In 1985, Jobs resigned from the company following an internal power struggle. Jobs founded NeXT Inc. Steve Wozniak also left Apple to pursue other interests but remains a major shareholder.
But in 1997, following considerable financial losses by Apple, Steve Jobs once again took over the helm of Apple and today is as innovative as ever.
Steve Jobs is married to Laurene Powell and the couple have three children. Steve Jobs also has a daughter from an earlier