Apple at 30 – 1976 to 1986
- March 30th, 2006
- WoA Feature Articles
- Alex Brooks
Well as you all know 2006 marks the 30th year since Apple Computer was founded and in a mere 3 days it will be the exact date since Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne started Apple.
You may be asking yourself who Ronald Wayne is, well he is often described as the silent partner of Apple, Ron worked with Steve Wozniak at Atari and was offered a place on the “side” business that Woz was starting, Ron wrote manuals and even designed the first Apple logo. He was given 10% control of Apple but after only a few months sold his stock for a measly $800, it is estimated that today his 10% could be worth up to $6 billion although he claims it was “the best decision available at that time”.
It all started with the Apple I, the first personal computer to combine a keyboard with a microprocessor and have a connection to a monitor. The Apple I completely designed and built by Steve Wozniak was priced at $666.66; the price has a funny story behind it. The price of $666.66 was set by Steve Jobs doubling the cost of manufacturing, allowing dealers at a 33.3% markup on the wholesale price of $500, it was quickly judged by people to be the “mark of the beast”. 66 cents was added by Steve Jobs to make it a more attractive price for advertising. 200 Apple I units were sold in total.
In January of 1977 Apple incorporated with Mike Markkula as its first chairman and Apple head quarters moved from Steve Jobs’ garage to a building on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino. On April 16 the Apple II was announced. The Apple II came with a built in keyboard, high-resolution colour graphics card, sound, eight expansion slots and a plastic case. The Apple II was followed by a few siblings the II Plus, IIe, IIc and IIGS and became a fair success for Apple. It should be noted that the Apple II often came in several renditions when it came to writing its name, the II and IIe were very commonly written ][ and ][e and the IIc and enhanced IIe were often written //c and //e.
Things were looking good for Apple Computer, Jobs was dominating and getting his way and the world was adjusting to personal computers. Then in May of 1980 Apple succeeded the Apple II with the Apple III and things became difficult, IBM and Microsoft were now making inroads on personal computing as well as the corporate computing market. The Apple III suffered numerous hardware related issues and an improved version known as the Apple III Plus was introduced in December of 1983.
Up next for Apple was Lisa, the project was actually begun in 1978 but was slow to evolve into anything special as resources were being poured into the Apple III. The target of Lisa was clear and simple, the first personal computer with a GUI. But in 1982 disaster struck and in a power battle Steve Jobs was ousted from the Lisa team.
The early 1980’s became a vital part of Apples history, in late 1979 Steve Jobs and Jef Raskin along with a few other Apple employees visited Xerox PARC, the team was granted three days worth of access in return for selling them one million dollars in pre-IPO Apple Stock.
During the visit Steve Jobs was utterly astounded at what he had seen at Xerox PARC, it was a Graphical User Interface, while at PARC Steve began jumping around shouting “Why aren’t you doing anything with this? This is the greatest thing! This is revolutionary!” Steve Jobs had seen the potential but had also seen that Xerox didn’t see the potential, he immediately instructed the team working on the Lisa to head in the direction of overlapping windows, and pop-up menus. Ever since that day its been reported that Apple stole from Xerox.
Earlier in 1979 Jef Raskin had an idea, he envisioned an easy to use, low cost computer for the average consumer. Jef was given permission to begin the project. It was named the Macintosh. The team behind the Macintosh was strong and Jobs made sure that any talent working on Lisa was immediately moved over to his new beloved project, even Wozniak spent some time on the electronics for Macintosh.
“[Jobs] would try to push himself in everything. No matter what you were doing, he had to have something to do with it. Nobody at Apple wanted him involved with his or her projects. I had started the Macintosh team and we didn’t want him either.” Jef Raskin.
On March 1, 1982 Jef Raskin official resigned from Apple Computer and the Macintosh project quietly became all Steve’s. With Jobs at the head everything had to be perfect and anybody who had an idea had to be sure of themselves before presenting it to Steve, a ship date was set for May 1983, it came, and it went.
“Steve will just walk up to your desk, look at what you’re doing and say ‘That’s shit'”. – Chris Espinosa.
At a total cost of $78 million Apple introduced the Macintosh at the annual shareholders meeting on January 24, 1984. Jobs waltzed onto the stage and recited a few lyrics from Bob Dylan; Jobs went on to recite this immensely famous speech:
“It is 1958. IBM passes up the chance to buy a young, fledgling company that has just invented a new technology called xerography. Two years later, Xerox is born, and IBM has been kicking itself ever since.
It is ten years later, the late ’60s. Digital Equipment Corporation and others invent the minicomputer. IBM dismisses the minicomputer as too small to do serious computing and, therefore, unimportant to its business. DEC grows to become a multi-hundred-million dollar corporation before IBM finally enters the minicomputer market.
It is now ten years later, the late ‘70s. In 1977, Apple, a young fledgling company on the West Coast, invents the Apple II, the first personal computer as we know it today. IBM dismisses the personal computer as too small to do serious computing and, therefore, unimportant to its business.
The early ‘80s-1981. Apple II has become the world’s most popular computer, and Apple has grown to a $300 million corporation, becoming the fastest-growing company in American business history. With over 50 companies vying for a share, IBM enters the personal computer market in November of 1981 with the IBM PC.
1983. Apple and IBM emerge as the industry’s strongest competitors, each selling approximately $1 billion worth of personal computers in 1983.
The shakeout is in full swing. The first major firm goes bankrupt, with others teetering on the brink. Total industry losses for 1983 overshadow even the combined profits of Apple and IBM for personal computers.
It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom.
IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry, the entire information age? Was George Orwell right?”
The crowd of shareholders screamed “No! No! No!” as the screen behind Jobs sprang to life with the 1984 advert, the audience became even more hyped, and when 1984 had completed Jobs spoke in a calm and collected voice, “There have only been two milestone products so far in our industry. The Apple II in 1977, and the IBM PC in 1981. Today, one year after Lisa, we are introducing the third industry milestone, Macintosh.” The rest is history as the Macintosh became an immediate success, after Raskin’s dream of a $500 computer the Macintosh finally retailed for $2,495.
The Macintosh became a powerful tool to the DTP industry, and as the print and design industries grew the Macintosh began to sell very well.
In 1985 with John Sculley at the head of the company Steve and John entered a power struggle. Sculley stripped Steve Jobs of all operational responsibilities but still kept him as Chairman of the board. In typical Jobs fashion he began a plan to get back at Sculley, he presented the Apple board with an idea for small company that would aim directly at the higher education market and wanted to know if Apple would be interested in licensing software for it. At the same time he offered to resign as chairman, his request was denied.
On Friday 13th of September Jobs presented Sculley with a list of five employees that he was going to take with him to his new company which Apple refused to back. This worried Sculley as many of the members were important to Apple and also had great knowledge of a current big project at Apple. Sculley secretly confronted the board with the idea of removing Jobs as chairman, Jobs beat them to it and on September 17th 1985 he officially resigned.
Steve went on to start up NeXT Computer.
Tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of Apple at 30
Bibliography – Thanks to Wikipedia, Apple Confidential 2.0, Apple-history.com for being amazing sources of Apple Computer history.