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Apple’s roller coaster in the last 40 years

On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple in California. The company was established as a way to power the computer designed by Wozniak, the legendary Apple I. A little less than a year later, Wayne would sell his interest for $800 during the incorporation of the company, at which time Mike Markkula invested $250,000 to start the operations of the newly formed company.

This was the beginning of the story that would popularize the myth of the startups that are born in a California garage and become a meteoric success . Apple even made it seem easy to launch a business and make its founders billionaires, but what is often ignored is that their journey was a real rollercoaster.

From hobby to market consolidation

Apple’s roller coaster in the last 40 years
Apple’s roller coaster in the last 40 years

Both Steve’s interest in computers increased following the creation of an electronics fan club: the Homebrew Computer Club . This was an association that encouraged the sharing of tricks, designs and prototypes among its members. Most of them were looking for a way to be able to write code in their own machines in order to keep researching and improving them.

Jobs and Wozniak came up with the idea of creating a complete set to which no further components needed to be added, except for connecting a television. This was the Apple I and because it was a nearly complete computer, it didn’t arouse much interest among fans . However, both founders managed to attract the attention of an electronics store with which they closed the famous first Apple order: 50 Apple I for 500 dollars each. 25,000 dollars in total.

From the beginning, Apple was looking for complete, closed solutions that would clash with many people’s ideas

In April 1977, Wozniak improved the design and created the Apple II, a computer whose successive variants were marketed until 1993. It was this computer that allowed Apple to grow into a publicly traded company, generating the revenue needed to maintain and expand its business for nearly two decades.

More importantly, gave Apple the resources it needed so Jobs and his team could create the first-ever Macintosh, released in 1984.

The 1990s, Apple’s Dark Ages

Apple has had seven CEOs in its history. During the nineties four of them ran the company, a sign of the identity crisis it suffered in this decade. John Sculley left the position in 1993 after ten years at the helm, was succeeded by Michael Spindler until 1996 , who in turn was replaced by Gil Amelio as the CEO with the shortest career in the company, as he only lasted one year as CEO.

40 aniversario de Apple.

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These years were marked by a lack of direction, a confused view of the very reason for the company’s existence and a series of soulless products . It was at this time that Apple’s computer designs suffered from a patent lack of inspiration. Computers that resembled the beige boxes of their cloned competitors, with the appearance of dozens of models with hardly any difference between them, making the decision to buy very complicated.

Gil Amelio was on the verge of licensing Mac OS to third party vendors, an initiative that Jobs took away as soon as he replaced him in the position

During these years Microsoft began to sweep the market thanks to its operating system and office suite. These products, together with the computer manufacturers that emerged in their shadow, consolidated the attention of the developers and the power of the Redmond company in the market.

Apple was lost and adrift, with an outdated operating system that was crying out for drastic renewal . The solution to Apple’s operating system problems was the acquisition of NeXT, the company founded by Steve Jobs that brought the foundation on which Mac OS X would be built over the last 15 years.

Of course, it also meant the end of Gil Amelio’s short time as CEO and the awakening of the company from the dream of the just.

Apple or continuous change as a mantra

Most of the company’s most iconic products were introduced thereafter. The original iMac, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad as well as smaller ones (for the moment) such as the Apple TV and the Apple Watch. Each is an expression of a major change that the company has undergone:

  • iMac proved that computers could be attractive and easy to use, as well as very useful.
  • The iPod made it clear that computers weren’t the only thing they were good at.
  • The iPhone broke the deck for what we had previously considered a smartphone.
  • The iPad deserves credit for showing users the dirty secret of computers: you don’t need a lot of power to get the same things done but in a different way.
  • The Apple Watch is the company’s most personal computer, a combination of luxury and technology that no one has tried in the past.

These products are responsible for expanding the concept of what we consider a computer , taking personal computing to a different level. But even more importantly, they brought about a change in the company, which had to move into uncharted territory. Sometimes, the company itself and its future were betting on the launch of a single product.

In this period we have also witnessed the roller coaster based in Cupertino. Between the launch of each great product, doubts arise about the future of the company, doubts that place it on the edge of a precipice with a deadly fall. But, somehow, Apple has always had its way to fight another day.

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