Where did Apple come from?
Apple’s origins are almost mythical. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the high school outcasts who rise up to become heroes. Geeks before geeks became cool. Yet somehow they captured the imagination of a generation and helped to change the way the world worked.
Steve Jobs had been interested in technology from a young age. At the age of twelve he had called up William Hewlett the President of Hewlett Packard asking if he could help him with the frequency counter he was making. Not only did William help him with his project, he also hired him for a summer job.
Wozniak had seen an article in 1973 popular mechanics that showed how to build your own Teletype machine and decided to build one to connect to mini-computers that he was working with. Jobs then convinced him that personal computers were going to be a big thing. Unfortunately Wozniak didn’t have the money to buy any of the chips that were available on the market. So he drew and designed computers on paper, until a new lower cost chip became available. That $20 dollar chip turned the Teletype machine into Apples first computer.
Steve Jobs then went to the local computer store, the Byte Shop and got a contract to build 50 of those computers for $500 dollars each. After getting his order he went to the electronic supply house and used his computer order as a means to get them to give him the parts on credit, after the electronics supplier called byte and got confirmation, they did indeed give him credit and he took those parts to make the first Apple computers. Eventually 200 of these Apple Is were made.
With the profits from these first Apples, the intrepid duo designed a new and better computer; this would be the Apple II. This computer could do graphics as well as text, but this computer was more expensive and in order to build it they needed to find financing. Banks at that time were wary to loan money for something as unheard of as personal computers. Eventually Steve Jobs met Mike Markkula and he cosigned a loan for $250,000 thousand and with that financing, Apple computer was formed on April 1st, 1976.
After success with the Apple II computer, the Apple company stumbled a bit. In 1980 they released the Apple III, the machine had no fan and it would get so hot that the thermal expansion would pop chips out of their sockets. Customer support recommended dropping the computer on the desk to settle them back in. Then in 1983 they released an updated Apple II, called the Iie, and a product called LISA. LISA short for Local Integrated System Architecture was ahead of its time. It include a mouse and one of the worlds first GUI (Graphical User Interface). It was also much more expensive than other computers at 10k dollars. Due to this feature alone it was not a big seller. However it was still a good proof of concept and many of the advances in LISA would be found the next year in the very first Macintosh.
This was the year of the famous 1984 commercial. An iconic ad campaign that was championed by Steve Jobs over the protests of his board of directors and new CEO John Scully. The release of the Mac clearly was a game changer for the computer industry as a whole. Priced at $2459 it was the first computer with a graphical user interface that an individual could afford. It was also the first personal computer to feature a mouse. Apple was so convinced that the mouse was the future that they didn’t include arrow keys on the keyboard at all.
But while Apples new product was revolutionary, the market itself was slumping and Jobs and his new CEO began to clash. In May of 1985 the board relieved Jobs of all duties and moved his office to an out of the way part of the Apple Campus, which Jobs called Siberia. It was at this time that Jobs created a new company called NeXT computers. NeXT computers never had great market success, they were very high-end machines and very expensive as well. This is where Job’s first started developing a GUI operating system that was based upon Unix architecture that would eventually become OS X.
Macintosh computers continued to evolve with bumps to the processor speed, memory and graphic capabilities. They added hard drives and the Mac Classic could boot from its own internal ROM.
In 1991 Apple started some of the trends that created the modern computing experience. This year they released the first version of Quick time and system 7, which was the first system to allow multiple programs to run automatically. It was also the year when they released the first powerbook series of notebooks and Apple began to dominate the laptop market.
Between 1992 and 1993 Apple released over 37 different computers and one small computer called the Newton. Apples CEO Scully called it a PDA. This was apples entry into and creation of the Personal digital assistant market.
1994 would be a big year for Apple. This was the year that Scully decided to switch to the PowerPC processor and Apple released the computer based upon this new chipset, the Power Macintosh 6100. A decision that Scully, in retrospect, says he regrets. Even so, the Powermac was a powerful computer that began to gather a strong following among the creative professionals.
1996 was a transition year for the Apple company. This was the year that the Mac notebooks would begin changing thanks to the PowerPC chip; creating the Powerbook line. The Powerbook 1400 was the first notebook to be designed for the Motorola chipset. During this year they announced the end of system 8 development and bought neXT for $429 million. With NeXT came Steve Jobs and his Darwin based operating system.
Apple did well with their Powerbook and Power Mac lines and continued to update them regularly, but the next truly new product to be released was the iMac. The combination of the low price and the bright colors of its chassis design made it the best selling computer of the 1998. This is the year they also quietly retired the Newton line of PDA’s from the market; ceding the entire market to Palm.
Next year in 1999, Apple released the ibook notebook that was based on the g3 chip, at the same time they upgraded Apples Powermac line of desktops to the G4 chip. It took two years before they would update their laptop lines to the G4 chip.
2001 was the year that Apple really came into its own and became the confident company that they are now. It released the first titanium powerbook, the white plastic ibook, introduced OS X and the biggest game changer yet, the ipod. Which sold moderately the first few years before becoming the dominant music player in the market.
The iMac flat panel was released in 2002 the next major release, Sometimes known as the iLamp, it was a continuation of the iMacs all-in-one computer that remained in the popular niche between the high powered Power Macs and the Apple notebook product lines. Also this year they began to sell the Xserve brand server. This was Apples first foray into the server market since the ill-fated network servers of 1996.
2003 brought another first from apple, the first 64 bit based personal computer, the G5 Power Mac, the innovative aluminum enclosure design has changed little since introduced and can be seen in the current Mac Pro. The G5 was the beginning of Apples break from the Motorola chipset. Apple worked with IBM on the G5 chipset and at the time it was the fastest thing on the market.
2004 was the year that the G5 really made a name for itself. With the introduction of the G5 in the Xserve, several universities bought quantities of these machines to use for cluster computing. Some of these clusters were ranked in the top 10 fastest computers in the world. 2004 was also the year of that the Imac received the G5 chip and took on its new and continuing thin rectangular design. G3 chips were phased out and the ibook g4 was released later that year as well as the ipod photo, the first ipod with a color screen.
2005 saw the release of the Mac mini, the ipod shuffle and nano. It also saw the release of the last of the G5 Power Macs and the G4 PowerBooks. For many reasons Apple decided to work with Intel for their processors and in 2006 they released an entire new line of Intel based machines. The Mac book replaced ibook, the Macbook Pro replaced the Powerbook, and the Power Mac was replaced by the Mac Pro. With bootcamp all of these machines could run Windows programs as well as OS X.
2007 could be said to be the year of the phone, this year Apple released the iphone and it took the world by storm. With its touch screen and flash memory it quickly penetrated a saturated phone market and changed the design and functions of cell phones forever. Simultaneously the Ipod touch was released.
In 2008 Apple released the Macbook air to complete its entries into each market. Apple continued to update their product line with significant improvements in all areas. They shrank their ipod shuffle and nano, expanded the memory of their iphone and computers and made everything faster.
Their latest major releases include the New MacBook Air which show some significant improvements over the outgoing model and the iPad which quickly dominated the global tablet market and as we approach the release of the iPad2 in early 2011 we wonder what will Apples next Big innovation be?
The indefatigable Steve Jobs seems to be getting a little worn around the edges, but he has left quite a legacy, not just in personal computing, but convincing the world that a geek was not a bad thing to be. So now you know a little bit about the history, are you an Apple Laptops or Cheap Laptops kind of person?