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This Month in Business History

Apple Computer, Inc.

Angelique Richardson, Intern
Ellen Terrell, Editor
April 2008

      Company History         Print Resources
    Internet Resources         LC Catalog Searches


Early Apple Computer

Company History

Apple Computers, Inc. was founded on April 1, 1976, by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who brought to the new company a vision of changing the way people viewed computers. Jobs and Wozniak wanted to make computers small enough for people to have them in their homes or offices. Simply put, they wanted a computer that was user-friendly.1

Jobs and Wozniak started out building the Apple I in Jobs' garage and sold them without a monitor, keyboard, or casing (which they decided to add on in 1977). The Apple II revolutionized the computer industry with the introduction of the first-ever color graphics.1 Sales jumped from $7.8 million in 1978 to $117 million in 1980, the year Apple went public.2

Wozniak left Apple in 1983 due to a diminishing interest in the day-to-day running of Apple Computers. Jobs then hired PepsiCo's John Sculley to be president. However, this move backfired and after much controversy with Sculley, Jobs left in 1985 and went on to new and bigger things. He founded his own company NeXT Software and he also bought Pixar from George Lucas, which would later become a huge success in computer animation of such movies as Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo.3

Through the rest of the 1980s, Apple was still doing well and in 1990 it posted its highest profits yet. This was, however, mostly due to the plans that Jobs had already set in motion before he left, most notably his deal with a tiny company by the name of Adobe, creator of the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Together the two companies created the phenomenon known as desktop publishing.4

Back in 1985 Sculley turned down an appeal from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to license its software. This decision would later come back to haunt him because Microsoft, whose Windows operating system (OS) featured a graphical interface similar to Apple's, became their toughest competition in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.5

Over the course of a few years, Apple's market share suffered slowly after its peak in 1990 and by 1996, experts believed the company to be doomed. It was not until 1997, when Apple was desperately in need of an operating system, that it bought out NeXT Software (Jobs' company) and the board of directors decided to ask for some help from an old friend: Steve Jobs. Jobs became an interim CEO, or iCEO as he called himself (Jobs was not officially the CEO until 2000). Jobs decided to make some changes around Apple. He forged an alliance with Microsoft to create a Mac version of its popular office software.6

Not long after this decision was the turning point for the company. Jobs revamped the computers and introduced the iBook (a personal laptop). He also started branching out into mp3 players (iPod) and media player software (iTunes). This was Jobs' best move yet. While computers are still an important part of Apple, its music related products (i.e. iPod and iTunes) have become the company's most profitable sector. Apple has also recently released the iPhone, a cellular phone, and the Apple TV. While Steve Jobs died October 5, 2011, Apple continues on with his legacy.

Apple Inc. has pioneered its way through the computer industry—not once, but multiple times throughout its existence. It believes in pushing the limits of creativity in order to produce interesting and valuable products for society. After more than 30 years, it is undeniable that Apple "has had a profound impact on technology, innovating and influencing not only how we use computers but the activities for which what we use them."7

For the latest information from Apple Computers, including a list of the current Board of Directors External Link, and corporate press releases External Link, see the company web site External Link.

Interesting Fact

Steve Jobs' company NeXT manufactured NeXT Cube, which, while way too expensive and not commercially successful, was actually used as the world's first web server!8

If you have any further questions, please Ask A Librarian.

Internet Resources

The New York Times Company Profile: Apple Inc. External Link

Google Book Search: Revolution in the Valley by Andy Hertzfeld External Link

Apple: The First 30 Years (A Timeline of Apple's History) (Macworld, 2006) External Link

30 Years of Apple: Assessing Apple's Impact (Macworld, 2006) External Link

Apple II Personal Computer External Link
Description of one of several Apple computers in the collections of the Smithsonian.

Print Resources

Brashares, Ann. Steve Jobs Thinks Different. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2001.
LC Call Number: HD9696.2.U62 J633 2001
Catalog Record: 00057706

Carlton, Jim. Apple: the Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders. New York: Times Books, 1997.
LC CCall Number: HD9696.C64 A8633 1997
Catalog Record: 97014371
Publisher's Description
Publisher-supplied Biographical Information
Sample Text

Gould, William. VGM Business Portraits: Apple. Lincolnwood, IL: VGM Career Horizons, 1997.
LC Call Number: HD9696.C64 A8644 1997
Catalog Record: 97001796
Publisher's Description

Hertzfeld, Andy. Revolution in the Valley. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media, Inc., 2005.
LC Call Number: HD9696.2.U64 A6734 2005
Catalog Record: 2005281391
Publisher's Description

Provides a description of the people who started at Apple Computers, Inc., and describes the evolution of Apple from 1979-1985.

Linzmayer, Owen W. Apple Confidential 2.0: the Definitive History of the World's Most Colorful Company. San Francisco: No Starch P, 2004.
LC Call Number: HD9696.2.U64 A674 2004
Catalog Record: 2003017567
Table of Contents
Publisher's Description

Library of Congress Catalog Searches

Additional works on this topic in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. Please see the individual sections of this guide for catalog searches relating to those topics. For assistance in locating the many other subject headings which relate to this subject, please consult a reference librarian.

Apple Computer, Inc.--History

Apple Computer, Inc.--Macintosh Division--History

Apple Computer, Inc.--Management

Computer Industry--United States--Biography

Computer Industry--United States--History

Jobs, Steve, 1955

 1. Ann Brashares, "Steve Jobs Thinks Different." Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2001. pp. 15-16.

 2. Brashares, p. 21.

 3. Brashares, pp. 47-48, 54.

 4. Brashares, p. 59.

 5 "Apple, Inc." [Online Company Record by Josh Lower.] Retrieved February 27, 2008, from Hoovers Company Records, via ProQuest. Document ID: 168155261.

 6 "Apple, Inc." [Online Company Record by Josh Lower.] Retrieved February 27, 2008, from Hoovers Company Records, via ProQuest. Document ID: 168155261.

 7 Farivar, Cyrus. "30 Years of Apple: Assessing Apple's Impact" Retrieved February 27, 2008, from Macworld. 31 March 2006. External Link

 8 Next Computers. NeXT cube. Online Museum. External Link

Last updated: 08/12/2015

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