Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, collectively known as ‘the two Steves’ dropped out of college in 1975. Having met in 1971, both Steves had an inherent interest in computing and associated technologies. On April 1976, they founded Apple Computers and the company was incorporated on 3 January 1977. Why Apple? In his biography, Steve Jobs said he was “on one of my fruitarian diets” and had just come back from an apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”
In 1976, the Steves started building the Apple I in Job’s garage. The first machine was sold without a monitor, keyboard or casing, which were later added on. The Apple II was revolutionary since it had the first-ever colour graphics. Apple went public in 1980 after sales jumped from $8 million in 1978 to $117 million in that year.
Wozniak left Apple in 1983 as he was no longer interested in the humdrum running of the company. Jobs hired Pepsi’s John Sculley to be the Apple CEO and the next new Steve. Soon after, Apple was Steve-less as Jobs left in 1985. He founded his own company NeXT Software and he also bought Pixar from George Lucas. Pixar is well-known for hits such as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo.
Apple thrived in the 1980s and in 1990 posted its highest profits yet. This success was largely due to Jobs. Before he left Apple, he set in motion many innovative plans including a deal with Adobe, then an infant company, the creator of the Portable Document Format (PDF). Apple and Adobe together created the phenomenon known as desktop publishing.
After peaking in 1990, Apple seemed to be on a downward spiral with its market share suffering. By 1996, many feared that Apple wouldn’t have one last bite to give, especially after Sculley had turned down an appeal from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to license its software.
Then, in 1997, Apple desperately needed an operating system. Re-enter Jobs. Apple acquired NeXT Software and Jobs became the Apple iCEO, making many changes from top to bottom. This included forging a strong alliance with Microsoft to create a Mac version of its popular MS Office.
The rest is history. First, there was the iMac, then iBook, and then the iPod. Derivatives of the iPod were the oh so familiar iPad and iPhone. Then Jobs and his creative team came up with iTunes followed by iTV. Apple was at the forefront of cloud-based media and streaming, laying the foundations for the likes of Spotify and Netflix.
Steve Jobs died on 5 October 2011, having resigned from Apple 6 weeks earlier. His legacy lives on through the range of Apple products including the iWatch, and 507 international Apple Stores. As of July 2019, Apple had a market cap of $1 trillion, almost twice the GDP of Sweden and 3 times the cost of World War I – that’s big money!