The History of the Apple Macintosh

Apple Macintosh (1984)

The Apple Macintosh revolutionized the entire computer industry by the year of 1984. Steve Jobs and his ingenious Macintosh team arranged for the computer to be used by the normal “person in the street” – and not only by experts.

Steve Jobs and Bill Atkinson (Photo: Norman Seiff)

“Insanely great” – Steve Jobs could hardly put into words his enthusiasm by the launch of the Macintosh. On the legendary annual general meeting of January 24th, 1984, in the Flint Center not far from the Apple Campus in Cupertino, the Apple co-founder initially quoted Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” in order to then polemicize against an imminent predominance of the young computer industry by IBM.

The early 1980s. 1981 – Apple II has become the world’s most popular computer, and Apple has grown to a 300 million dollar corporation, becoming the fastest growing company in American business history. With over fifty companies vying for a share, IBM enters the personal computer market in November of 1981, with the IBM PC.

1983. Apple and IBM emerge as the industry’s strongest competitors, with each selling approximately one billion dollars worth of personal computers in 1983. The shakeout is in full swing. The first major personal computer firm goes bankrupt, with others teetering on the brink. Total industry losses for 1983 overshadow even the combined profits of Apple and IBM.

It is now 1984. It appears that IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, after initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future and are turning back to Apple as the only force who can ensure their future freedom.

IBM wants it all, and is aiming its guns at its last obstacle to industry control, Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right?

The crowd, among them the complete Macintosh developer’s team, shouted back: “Nooooo!”

The introduction of the first Mac on January 24th, 1984; taken from the “Lost 1984 Videos”

There had been only two milestone products so far: the Apple II in 1977 and the IBM PC in 1981, Jobs continued. “Today (…) we are introducing the third industry milestone product, the Macintosh. Many of us have been working on Macintosh for over two years now and it has turned out insanely great.”

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Taking a look at the history of the personal computer today, Steve Jobs was on the right track with his historical comparison. However, it would not be IBM that became the great dominator of the computer industry over the years, but rather, the alliance of Microsoft and Intel.

Previous to the Macintosh developer team, others had already tried to design a computer with a mouse and a graphical user interface – one year before Apple did, with its own business computer Lisa, which retailed for 10,000 dollars.

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Microsoft’s Relationship with Apple

Archrival and Knight in Shining Armor Microsoft and Apple have been business partners and tough competitors for many years. Back in the seventies, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates worked close together. In 1997 the Windows-manufacturer helped Steve Jobs saving Apple. In the early seventies there was no such thing as a personal computer. I took … Read more

How the Founders of Apple Got Rich

The two main Apple founders – Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – both came from humble backgrounds and were not endowed with commercial success. In order to afford the first pieces of the Apple I in 1976, they almost literally sold the shirts off their backs. Jobs invested the proceeds from the sale of his VW bus ($1,500 dollars). “Woz” parted with his beloved programmable calculator Hewlett-Packard 65 and deposited 250 dollars in the company’s treasury.

Timeline: Steve Jobs – From College Dropout to “CEO of the Decade”

Steve Jobs at WWDC 2008
Steve Jobs at WWDC 2008. Photo: Christoph Dernbach

Steve Jobs has been the most influential inventor and manager in the technology industry. On August 24, 2011, he announced his resignation from his role as Apple’s CEO. Time to look back at the most important marks in his life:

1955: Jobs is born on Feb. 24, in San Francisco and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs (née Hagopian) of Mountain View, California, who named him Steven Paul.

1972: Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Although he dropped out after only one semester, he continued auditing classes at Reed, such as one in calligraphy.

1974: Jobs returned to California and began attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Wozniak, a high school friend who was a few years older. He works for video game maker Atari.

1976: Building "Blue Boxes"
1976: Building “Blue Boxes”

1976: Apple Computer is formed on April Fools’ Day, shortly after Wozniak and Jobs create a new computer circuit board in a Silicon Valley garage. The third founder, Ronald Wayne, was serving as the venture’s “adult supervision”. He drew the first Apple logo, wrote the three men’s original partnership agreement, and wrote the Apple I manual. He soon gave up his share of the new company for a total of $2,300 becaus he was afraid of the financial risk. The Apple I computer went on sale by the summer for $666.66.

1977: Apple is incorporated January 3, 1977 by its founders and a group of venture capitalists (Mike Markkula et al.). The company unveils Apple II, the first personal computer to generate color graphics. Sales soar to the rate of $1 million a year.

1978: Jobs’ daughter Lisa is born to girlfriend Chrisann Brennan. She briefly raised their daughter on welfare when Jobs denied paternity, claiming that he was sterile; he later acknowledged paternity. In 1983 he named the “Apple Lisa” after his first daughter.

1979: Jobs and several Apple employees including Jef Raskin visited Xerox PARC in December 1979 to see the Xerox Alto. Xerox granted Apple engineers three days of access to the PARC facilities in return for the option to buy 100,000 shares (800,000 split-adjusted shares) of Apple at the pre-IPO price of $10 a share. Jobs was immediately convinced that all future computers would use a graphical user interface (GUI), and development of a GUI began for the Apple Lisa.

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