May 19, 1980
At the National Computer Conference in Anaheim, California, Apple Computer introduces the Apple III. It is the company’s first attempt at a business computer, its first departure from the Apple II architecture, and it will also become Apple’s first real failure. Apple expects the Apple III to be released in July, but in one of the worst cases of delay in tech history, the system wouldn’t reach stores until January. Once released, the Apple III will be plagued by component failures that would ultimately lead to large recalls. The Apple III never recovered from it’s original negative reception and was discontinued by Apple in 1984
May 15, 2001
Apple Computer announces plans to operate a chain of retail stores, opening twenty-five retail stores in the United States by the end of the year. Steve Jobs holds a commemorative press event at Apple’s first store in the second level of Tysons Corner Center to make the announcement. The store, along with a second location in Washington, D.C. will open on Saturday, May 19. At the time, Apple’s plan was generally derided by technology “experts” as doomed to failure. On this, their anniversary date, Apple’s retail stores are now considered one of the catalysts to Apple’s tremendous growth.
May 13, 1991
The System 7 operating system for the Macintosh is released, the second major upgrade to the Mac OS. One of the major features included in System 7 is built-in cooperative multitasking. System 7 also introduces the concept of “aliases”, which will later be copied as “shortcuts” in Microsoft Windows 95. System 7 was the first Mac OS that I personally became familiar with, and it was the foundation of the Mac OS until the release of Mac OS X almost exactly 10 years later.
May 6, 1998
At the Flint Center Theater, the same place where the Mac was first unveiled in 1984, Steve Jobs introduces the original iMac. This iMac was later known as the “Bondi Blue”, after the color of its case (named for a beach in Australia). According to Jobs, the iMac is “the Internet-age computer for the rest of us.” Originally slated to be available in ninety days, it will actually be released on August 15th. Apple will book an unprecedented 150,000 orders before its release, marking the beginning of Apple’s renaissance. It also ushered in the era of Apple adding the letter “i” to just about every product it created. But hey, Apple has
about $80 billion over $137 billion in cash right now, so who’s arguing?
April 28, 2003
Apple Computer launches the iTunes Music Store. The store sells music for 99¢ a song for use with the Apple iPod and iTunes software. It is not the first service to sell digital music, but it will become the first to gain widespread popularity. The service will be an instant success, selling over one million songs in its first week and going on to change the music industry forever. The iTunes Music Store is now the #1 music retailer in the United States, surpassing Wal-Mart in 2008.
April 24, 1984
The Apple IIc was Apple’s first attempt at a portable computer. Dealers place orders for more than 52,000 units on the first day. Apple also announces that over 60,000 Macs have been sold since their introduction in January that year. In contrast, the Apple III line only sold an estimated 120,000 units in the four years since it was introduced, losing Apple about $60 million dollars.
April 15, 1977
The first annual West Coast Computer Faire is held over three days in San Francisco, California, attended by 12,750 people. The Faire features the debut of the Apple II computer, which features 16KB of memory, BASIC, a built-in keyboard, eight expansion slots, and built-in high-resolution color graphics. Many credit this event and the launch of the Apple II as giving birth to the personal computer industry.
April 12, 1976
Ronald Wayne, one of the three co-founders of Apple Computer, leaves the company just eleven days after it was established, selling his ten percent share for $800. In his short time with the company, Wayne illustrated the first Apple logo, wrote the company’s partnership agreement, and wrote the manual for the Apple I. He choose to leave the company because the partnership agreement imposed unlimited personal liability on all three co-founders, irregardless of which partner incurred the debt. Unlike Jobs and Wozniak, 21 and 25, Wayne had personal assets that potential creditors could seize. The failure of a slot machine company he had started five years earlier also contributed to his decision to exit the partnership. Wayne would later say that he “either was going bankrupt or the richest man in the cemetery.” By 1982, a ten percent share of Apple Computer was worth US$1.5 billion. And in 2010 it was worth $22 billion. They say hindsight is 20/20 … or perhaps $22 billion?
April 11, 1985
Almost exactly 2 years after joining Apple, John Sculley, asks Steve Jobs to step down as head of the Macintosh division at an Apple Computer board meeting. With the backing of the company’s other executives, Jobs is stripped of nearly all responsibilities at Apple. While Jobs retains the title of Chairman, he has no authority and eventually leaves Apple.
April 8, 1983
John Sculley is named president and CEO of Apple Computer after Steve Jobs convinced him to leave his position as president of PepsiCo. While Steve Jobs wanted the position of president for himself, then-CEO Mike Markkula did not think Jobs was ready to take on that responsibility.
Jobs wanted Sculley based on his success growing Pepsi’s marketshare against Coke. He wanted that same type of marketing success for Apple against IBM. Part of computer industry lore, Jobs reportedly asked Sculley, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?”
Ultimately, Sculley and Jobs entered into a power struggle, Sculley convinced Apple’s board of directors to strip Jobs of all power within the company, and Jobs left Apple. One has to wonder how the computer industry would be different today if Steve Jobs had been given lead of his company in 1983 instead of Apple opting for “adult supervision”. Recent history with companies such as Facebook, Google, and even Apple since Jobs’ return, has shown that visionaries can make great leaders of technology companies.