History of Apple Inc.

Katelyn Chu, writer

In 2018, Apple became the first trillion-dollar company. Now, world-renowned for its high-quality products focused on user experience and design, Apple is worth 2 trillion dollars. From its founding in 1976 in Steve Job’s parents’ house in Los Altos and Wozniak’s HP desk to the present, the company has grown tremendously and amassed countless achievements, placing it at the vanguard of the technology industry.


Initially, Apple started as Apple Computer Inc. and had three founders — the famous Steve Jobs, slightly less famous Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, who was there for business guidance but left before the company was legally incorporated. Starting out, Jobs was mainly in charge of running the business aspects while Wozniak worked on the technology. The first product ever made by Apple was the Apple I. Made for hobbyists, it was one of the earliest personal computers, both designed and handbuilt by Wozniak. Then came the Apple II, which was popularized by VisiCalc, a spreadsheet program first exclusively released on the Apple II. It was in this period that Apple first established itself in the education industry due to the scarcity of competition in the field.


Soon after in 1979, Jobs visited Xerox PARC. There he realized the potential of a graphical user interface and decided to use visual features such as the mouse, icons, symbols and windows to replace command lines. These innovations were then built into the Macintosh and released in 1984, revolutionizing personal computers.


Accessible and affordable, the Macintosh was easy to use, unlike previous computers that essentially could only be operated by experts. At that time, Apple’s biggest consumers were educators and creatives. As such, its introduction of a reasonably-priced laser printer and an app called PageMaker made it possible for artists and publishers to create professional-looking prints at their desktops for a lower cost. Another app called HyperCard helped teachers put together multimedia presentations. Yet despite the Macintosh being a breakthrough product, not everything was going to be smooth sailing. There was tension building between Apple and Microsoft because of competition created by the development of Windows, and power grabs within Apple were on the horizon.


In 1983, John Sculley was recruited from Pepsi to act as the CEO of Apple and to help with marketing because Jobs, then in his 20s, was deemed too inexperienced. In spite of that, following some disagreements between Jobs and Sculley, Jobs tried to oust him by attempting a boardroom coup. However, it was unsuccessful and instead resulted in Apple’s board of directors stripping Jobs of his position at the company. He resigned later that year, in 1985. During his time away from Apple, Jobs started NeXT Computer and bought Pixar, the latter of which was sold to Disney in 2006. His involvement in these projects—Pixar specifically—contributed to his later success with the creation of the iPhone, as it gave him a better understanding of how to relate and appeal to audiences or customers.


As for Apple, the company did decently at first after losing Jobs. However, it started to fall behind due to its decision to stick with PowerPC processors while Windows took off with Intel core processing units. Ultimately, Jobs was brought back as a temporary CEO in 1996 to save the company from bankruptcy, but held onto the position until 2011, the year he died. Upon his reinstatement, Jobs led Apple in creating the iMac, and making nice with Microsoft. 


Apple then followed the iMac up with the introduction of iTunes and the iPod in 2001, taking the world by storm and drastically changing the music distribution industry. iTunes provided a convenient platform where for the first time, customers could download individual songs for 99 cents, in contrast to having to buy entire albums directly from the record labels. Then in 2007, Apple created the iPhone. With its multi-touch technology, ability to play MP3s and videos, and access the internet, the iPhone rapidly rose to become a huge hit across the globe. Almost 1.4 million iPhones were sold within the first year of release, blowing other mobile phone competitors away. And while neither the iPod or iPhone were the first product of their kind in the market, both were held in such high regard they became the industry standard.


Continuing with the spirit of innovation, Apple released the App Store in 2008 and iPad in 2010, before Job’s death in 2011 and Tim Cook’s assumption of the CEO position. Since then, the company has come up with numerous new products such as iCloud, AirPods, and the Apple Watch, and has additionally expanded to encompass more services — including Apple Pay and Apple Music. Familiar Apple devices have also evolved over the years, with the constant addition of new features like camera capabilities, GPS navigation, Touch ID and facial recognition. 


Today, Apple is listed as one of the most valuable brands by Forbes due to its unique customer loyalty, trademark design and quality resulting from an emphasis on user experience. Undeniably, the company has come very far from its origin in 1976 when Jobs and Wozniak were the sole employees working at Jobs’ parents’ house. As for future plans, it is said Apple is potentially working on developing projects such as an augmented reality platform, virtual reality development tools, cameras and self-driving cars. With such a good track record, the limits of Apple’s innovation have yet to be seen, and the world holds its breath in anticipation for what Apple will unveil next.