Apple is a global technology giant that produces some of the world’s most popular and innovative products and services, such as the iPhone, Mac computer, Apple Watch, and more. But who actually invented Apple and when, and how did it achieve such phenomenal success and value?
This article will provide a brief overview of Apple’s history, from its humble beginnings in a garage to its current status as the first company to hit a market capitalization of $3 trillion!
The Blue Box
Apple was invented by its co-founders, Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs. The two met for the first time in 1971 when Jobs was 16 and Wozniak was just 21. They were introduced to each other by mutual friend Bill Fernandez and began their first business venture together in the fall of that year.
The “Two Steves,” as they were later referred to, bonded over their shared love of electronics and pulling pranks. This shared interest led them to the creation of the blue box.
Wozniak, who was a self-taught electronics engineer, read an article in Esquire magazine about a device that could place long-distance phone calls for free by emitting certain tone chirps (also known as phreaking). This led him to build his version of the device, which they named the blue box. Jobs, who took on the task of packaging and marketing these devices, managed to sell 200 blue boxes at $150 each. He and Wozniak split the profit.
A fun fact is that Wozniak tested his creation by calling Vatican City. He pretended to be Henry Kissinger, wanting to talk to the Pope. However, a bishop got suspicious and called the real Henry Kissinger!
In 1975, Wozniak, who had a lifelong dream to build his own computer, was finally presented with the opportunity to make this dream a reality thanks to the arrival of the Altair 8800.
The Altair 8800 was the first commercially successful microcomputer, which used the newly invented microprocessor chip and was sold as a kit.
Inspired by the Altair and cheered on by his friends at the Homebrew Computer Club, Wozniak immediately began making plans for his own microcomputer.
The Garage Start-Up
So, when was Apple officially invented? Apple was founded on April 1, 1976. Wozniak and Jobs reunited after Hewlett Packard, where Wozniak worked as an engineering intern, showed no interest in his design. The two Apple inventors decided to move their operations to the Jobs family garage, where they began working on the Apple I.
In need of working capital, Jobs decided to sell his Volkswagen minibus and Wozniak, his beloved programmable calculator, raising $1,300 to begin their enterprise. This capital helped them create their first model, the Apple I. This was a working circuit board requiring customers to add their own monitor and keyboard. They sold their first 50 units of the Apple I to a local computer store called The Byte Shop at $500 each.
Following this, the 1977 version, or Apple II, was a stand-alone machine in a custom-molded plastic case with a color display, a keyboard, and expandable memory. This made the Apple II the first microcomputer to appeal to the average consumer.
One-half of Apple’s founders is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, to two University of Wisconsin students who gave him up for adoption.
Jobs grew up with his adoptive parents, Clara and Paul Jobs, in Cupertino, California, in what is now known as Silicon Valley. As a child, Steve Jobs was always intelligent, inquisitive, and an innovative thinker. However, he struggled with formal education and was known as a prankster in elementary school.
His love of electronics was cultivated by his father, who showed his son how to deconstruct and reassemble electronics in the family garage. This hobby instilled confidence, determination, and mechanical ability in young Jobs.
In 1972, Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for one semester before dropping out. He took a job at Atari as a video game designer in early 1974, where he saved enough money to fund a trip to India to experience Buddhism.
By 1976, Jobs and Wozniak had invented Apple Computers and, by 1977, had created the Apple II, which was a staggering success.
Ousted From Apple
On December 12, 1980, Apple went public with its initial public offering (IPO), selling 4.6 million shares at $22 a share. Jobs was also named Chairman. However, due to conflict within management, John Sculley, the company CEO, convinced board members to oust Jobs in 1985.
Jobs quickly began another firm, NeXT Inc., and began designing high-powered workstations for the education sector. Additionally, in 1986, Jobs acquired a controlling interest in Pixar, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd, the production company of Hollywood director George Lucas.
Over the next decade, Jobs developed Pixar, a computer graphics company, into a major animation studio that went on to produce Toy Story. This first full-length feature film was completely computer-animated. In 1995, Pixar’s IPO made Jobs a billionaire for the first time.
Jobs Returns to Apple
While Jobs found success in other endeavors, by 1996, Apple was facing major losses and was on the verge of collapse. The company’s CEO at the time, Gilbert Amelio, struggled to find a suitable replacement for Macintosh’s aging operating system. In addition, Apple’s stock price was steadily declining. He decided to purchase Job’s NeXTSTEP OS for $400 million.
However, unhappy with Amelio’s inability to turn around the company’s finances, the board of directors requested that Jobs return as CEO in 1997. Jobs quickly began to turn things around.
By 1998, he had forged an alliance with the Microsoft Corporation, created an award-winning advertising campaign, and developed the iMac. This computer offered high-speed processing at a reasonable price. By the end of 1998, Apple stock had skyrocketed by 211.76%.
Moving into the 21st century, Jobs began reinventing the Apple brand in 2001. He introduced iTunes and the iPod MP3 player in the same year. By 2006, Apple’s iTunes store had sold over a billion songs and videos.
By diving into the telecommunications industry in 2007, Apple, Inc. officially changed its name to Apple, Inc. Jobs once again revolutionized the way we use technology.
The iPhone was created as a touchscreen mobile device capable of playing MP3s and videos and accessing the internet. In 2007, Apple stock had a 133.48% increase.
Health Issues Arise
Sadly, amid all his success, Jobs had been dealing with serious health issues since 2003. He was officially diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. He continued to run Apple, taking brief leaves of absence throughout the years to have surgeries and to recover from bouts of bad health.
In January 2011, Jobs took another medical leave of absence and resigned by August of that year as CEO but remained Chairman. Unfortunately, just two months later, on October 5, 2011, Jobs passed away at the age of 56. His estimated net worth at the time was $10.2 billion.
Steve Wozniak, or “Woz” as he was commonly known, is the other half of who invented Apple. He was born on August 11, 1950 in San Jose, California. At a young age, Wozniak had a talent for mathematics and a deep interest in electronics.
In 1986, he attended the University of Colorado for one year before dropping out. He subsequently returned to California, where he attended a local community college and then the University of California, Berkley. He worked at several small electronics firms in the early 1970s before finally landing a job at Hewlett-Packard in 1975.
From 1976 to 1980, Wozniak designed the hardware that would bring Apple its astonishing achievement in the personal computing industry.
Including the initial circuit board of the Apple I and the design for the Apple II, he also designed the floppy disk drive for the Apple II. In addition, he designed various components of the Apple operating system and its software. By 1980, with the IPO of Apple, Wozniak was a multi-millionaire.
A small plane crash forced Wozniak to take a sabbatical from Apple in 1981. The injury caused Wozniak to develop retrograde amnesia (a loss of long-term memory).
He later returned to Berkley under the pseudonym “Rocky Clark” to complete his computer science and electrical engineering degrees. However, he again dropped out before completing his degree. The school eventually awarded him a Bachelor of Science degree in 1987 due to his incredible work with Apple.
Wozniak’s Retirement from Apple
Wozniak retired as an official employee of Apple in 1985. He then went on to pursue philanthropic causes in child education and computer enrichment causes for teens. He also kept his finger on the pulse of the electronic and computing world by investing in various business ventures and serving on the boards of various companies.
In 2009, he became the Chief Scientist at Fusion-IO, a company that produced high-capacity, solid-state storage devices. Fusion IO was later sold to Sandisk in 2014.
Most recently, Wozniak started Efforce, which focuses on green tech and blockchain technology. In 2023, Wozniak’s estimated net worth is $100 million.
Who is Apple’s CEO Now?
Apple’s current CEO is Tim Cook, who took over the position after Jobs died in 2011, but his journey with the company started long before that. He worked as Apple’s Chief Operating Officer under Steve Jobs’ leadership. However, before Apple, Cook was already working in the tech industry. He previously worked at PC maker Compaq and spent 12 years working at IBM.
Cook currently owns over 3 million shares in Apple, a less than a 1% stake. He has sold some of those shares throughout the years, making hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
He’s also been lending his expertise to Nike since 2005 by serving on their board.
The invention of Apple, from its start in Steve Jobs’ family garage to the many innovations of its founders, has made the company a massive success in the tech industry.
It’s easy to see why Apple is the most valuable company in the world!
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