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, regardless 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, “Either I was going to be 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.
April 2, 1980
Microsoft announces its first hardware product, the Z80 SoftCard. The SoftCard is a microprocessor that plugs into the Apple II personal computer allowing it to run programs written for the CP/M operating system. CP/M was a very popular OS for early personal computers along with much of the software written for it. In particular, the word processor WordStar is so popular that people will purchase the SoftCard and a companion “80-column card” just to run it on the Apple II. At one point, the SoftCard product will bring in about half of Microsoft’s total revenue. It will be discontinued in 1986 as CP/M’s popularity waned.
April 1, 1976
The Apple Computer company is formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in order to sell their personal computer kits, later known as the Apple I computer, launching the personal computer revolution. From this point on, the word “Apple” is associated as much for computers as it is for fruit.
March 24, 2001
Mac OS X 10.0, the first public version of Mac OS X, is released. The code name for this release was Cheetah, although Apple did not start using the code names for marketing purposes until Mac OS X 10.3, Jaguar.
March 17, 1988
Apple Computer famously sues Microsoft Corporation for copyright infringement in its Windows operating system. Apple eventually lost the lawsuit in 1995.
March 1, 1976
Steve Wozniak completes the basic design for the circuit board of a (relatively) easy-to-use personal computer. The next day he shows it to the Homebrew Computer Club, which Steve Jobs attends. Jobs realizes the potential and convinces Wozniak not to give away the schematics but instead produce printed circuit boards to sell. The two Steves form a company, which they name Apple, and Wozniak’s design becomes the basis of the Apple I computer. The rest, as they say, is history.
February 28, 2002
Disney CEO Michael Eisner testifies at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on the protection of digital content from piracy. Eisner lobbies for sterner enforcement of copyright laws, claiming that Apple Computer advertisements for the iPod encourage copyright violations. “Rip. Mix. Burn. … they can create a theft if they buy this computer.”
A little over 3 years later, Eisner was later replaced as CEO by Robert Iger, who quickly arranged the buyout of Pixar Animation Studios, of which Steve Jobs was CEO. This move made Steve Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder and a member of Disney’s board. I guess it’s a small world after all!