Apple. That one word epitomises the golden age of technology. It is the one company that every tech business wants to become, one company that everyone wants to work for, one company that has been at the forefront of the field. But how did they get there?
Although the majority of us are probably avid users of Apple devices, many of us probably aren’t familiar with the history of the company. Even fewer have found pauses in our busy lifestyles to read any books on Apple and Steve Jobs, despite the variety and availability. However, since you are reading this now, you must have found a moment of time to learn the turning points in the company’s history. Let’s begin.
The company was started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne in 1976. At this time there was little enthusiasm from manufacturers and investors. However, unmoved by this, Jobs/Wozniak/Wayne continued to develop prototypes of the Apple I. The word ‘prototype’ was very fitting seeing that at this point the device was a crude, wire-wrapped circuit board. This all changed a year later and Mark Markkula invested in Apple and the Apple II was released to the public with high praise for its “particularly impressive colour graphics (BYTE Mag).” This was only the beginning of the trademark Apple innovation.
Few years later and the Apple III and the Apple IIe were released. The latter became one of the popular household computers whose popularity would span the decade, firmly embedding the Apple brand into families. The Apple III however filed to capture the same success as the Apple IIe, as it was a high end machine with a high price tag to match.
Apple became a public company in 1980 and share prices instantly skyrocketed into Fortune 500 status, despite the failure of the Apple III. Apple staff members suddenly became millionaires over the course of a few days. 4 years later, the world was introduced to the might that is Apple in the form of the original Macintosh. Its infamous “1984” advert was shown in theatres and the Superbowl lifted the brand “Apple Macintosh” to a new legendary status. This advert has gone on to win many awards and is still considered one of the greatest adverts ever made. The Macintosh became known as the “the computer for the rest of us” and too won nearly as many awards of excellence as its advert. Everything was looking up for Apple, until 1985.
In this year, an internal civil war occurred and Jobs became involved with a lot of internal politics. This resulted in Jobs being stripped of his duties and eventually he resigned in 1985. Jobs went and started NeXT Inc. Their first computer was twice as powerful as anything Apple had ever released while also being $1000 cheaper. Suddenly Jobs had turned from Apple’s greatest asset to Apple’s greatest rival.
However, NeXT Inc wasn’t Apple’s only problem, Microsoft Windows 3.1 was released in 1993, to enormous success and posed a significant threat to the rise of Mac OS. The success of Apple’s lower-cost devices cannibalised the higher-end more pricey devices. This led to a rapid decline in profits and therefore stock prices. The post-Jobs management attempted to hike up prices. This led to a string of misfired ideas. It was like apple was blindfolded and was firing unsuccessful products in all directions, attempting to hit a target. Meanwhile Windows continued to gain market share, hitting the target over and over again. Apple was lost.
In 1996, Gil Amelio became CEO. He made many changes to Apple, but his boldest move proved to be the best decision. Amelio decided to buy NeXT Inc and thus bringing back Jobs to Apple as an adviser. Jobs reinvigorated the company, in 1997, by delivering an inspirational speech detailing the future of the company. Mac OS 8 was released soon after to large appraisal. Jobs was then placed back onto the iThrone. This was the start to a long list of successful Apple products. By 1998, the Apple iMac and PowerBook G3 became THE devices to own. Apple proved to be, once again, a force to be reckoned with. Device software continue to develop using NeXTstep developments with Mac OS being replaced by the more refined OS X.
But, it wasn’t until the release of the iPod, in 2001, that Apple truly began to innovate in new technological frontiers. It became trendy to be seen wearing the iPod’s trademark white headphones. But the Apple innovation train didn’t stop there. New MacBook Pros and iMacs released in 2005, formed out of an Intel/Apple alliance, cemented the company as one of the leaders in the Laptop/PC market. The iPhone changed how the world uses their phone and revolutionised the market by seamlessly integrating hardware with elegant software. iOS became a huge hit with consumers and businesses. This proved especially true in the form of the iPad. This device combined the best features of the iPhone with the size of a laptop. Despite being ridiculed by the media, it became a huge hit with the public. By creating annual high quality refreshes to all of their devices, Apple has managed to remain superior. Other companies have changed their mind set to attempt to beat Apple at their own game, however no company has managed to do so… yet.
Apple. That one word epitomises the golden age of technology. It is the one company that every tech business wants to become, one company that everyone wants to work for, one company that has been at the forefront of the field. Their success indeed lies with their mind-set of “Thinking Differently.” Or, as Steve Jobs put it “Innovation distinguished between a leader and a follower.” This great vision of standing out from the competition has led to Apple’s rise, fall and rise again.