Apple Computer, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is a Silicon Valley company based in Cupertino, California, whose main business is computer technologies. Best known for its range of Macintosh computers and also more recently its iPod MP3 player and iTunes Music Store, Apple has a reputation for innovation in the high-tech industry.
Before he co-founded Apple, Steve Wozniak had always been an electronics hacker. By 1975 he was working at Hewlett-Packard and helping his friend Jobs design video games for Atari. To get computer time, Wozniak had been buying computer time on a variety of minicomputers hosted by Call Computer, a timesharing firm run by Alex Kamradt. The computer terminals available at that time were primarily paper-based: thermal printers like the Texas Instruments Silent 700 were the state of the art. Wozniak had seen a 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine on how to build your own computer terminal. Using off-the-shelf parts, Wozniak designed the Computer Conversor, a 24-line by 40-column, uppercase-only video teletype that he could use to log on to the minicomputers at Call Computer. Alex Kamradt commissioned the design and sold a small number of them through his firm.
In 1975 Wozniak started attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club. Learning about the new microcomputers such as the Altair 8800 and the IMSAI, he realized he could build a microprocessor into his video teletype and have a complete computer.
At the time the only microcomputer CPUs generally available were the $179 Intel 8080, and the $170 Motorola 6800. Wozniak preferred the 6800, but both were out of his price range. So he watched, and learned, and designed computers on paper waiting for the day he could afford a CPU.
When MOS Technology released the famous 6502 in 1976 at $20, Wozniak immediately started writing a version of BASIC for the chip. After completion, he started designing a computer it would run on. The 6502 was designed by the same people who designed the 6800, as many in Silicon Valley left employers to form their own companies. Wozniak's earlier 6800 paper-computer needed only minor changes to run on the new chip.
Wozniak completed the machine and started taking it to Homebrew Computer Club meetings to show off the system. At the meeting, Wozniak met his old friend Jobs, who was interested in the commercial potential of the small hobby machines.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak ("the two Steves") had been friends for some time, having met in 1971, when a mutual friend introduced 21-year old Wozniak to 16-year old Jobs. Jobs managed to interest Wozniak in assembling a machine and selling it. Jobs approached a local computer store, The Byte Shop, who said they would be interested in the machine, but only if it came fully assembled. The owner, Paul Terrell, went further, saying he would order 50 of the machines and pay $500 each on delivery.
The machine had only a few notable features. One was the use of a TV as the display system, whereas many machines had no display at all. This was not like the displays of later machines however, and displayed text at a terribly slow 60 character/s. This machine, the Apple I also included bootstrap code on ROM, which made it easier to start up. Finally, at the insistence of Paul Terrell, Wozniak also designed a cassette interface for loading and saving programs, at the then-rapid pace of 1200 bit/s. Although the machine was fairly simple, it was nevertheless a masterpiece of design, using far fewer parts than anything in its class, and quickly earning Wozniak a reputation as a master designer.
Joined by another friend, Ronald Wayne, the three started to build the machines. Using a variety of methods, including borrowing space from friends and family, selling various prized items (like calculators and a VW bus), scrounging, white lies (or petty fraud, depending on your point of view), Jobs managed to secure the parts needed while Wozniak and Wayne assembled them. They were delivered in June, and as promised, they were paid on delivery. Eventually 200 of the Apple I's were built.
But Wozniak had already moved on from the Apple I. Many of the design features of the I were due to the limited amount of money they had to construct the prototype, but with the income from the sales he was able to start construction of a very much upgraded machine, the Apple II; it was presented to the public at the first West Coast Computer Faire in April 1977 .
The main difference internally was a completely redesigned TV interface, which held the display in memory. Now not only useful for simple text display, the Apple II included graphics, and, eventually, color. Jobs meanwhile pressed for a much improved case and keyboard, with the idea that the machine should be complete and ready to run out of the box. This was almost the case for the Apple I machines sold to the Byte Shop, but one still needed to plug various parts together and type in the code to run BASIC.
Building such a machine was going to cost a lot more money. Jobs started looking for cash, but Wayne was somewhat gun shy due to a failed venture four years earlier, and eventually dropped out of the company. Jobs eventually met "Mike" Markkula who co-signed a bank loan for $250,000, and the three formed Apple Computer on April 1, 1976.
With both cash and a new case design in hand, the Apple II was released in 1977 and became the computer generally credited with creating the home computer market. Millions were sold well into the 1980s. When Apple went public in 1980, they generated more money than any IPO since Ford in 1956, and instantly created more millionaires than any company in history.
By the '80s Apple faced emerging competition in the personal computing business. Chief among them was IBM, the first "big name" in computing. IBM's PC model, running DOS (short for Disk Operating System, and licensed to IBM by Bill Gates) was capturing a large share of the emerging desktop computing market in large companies.
Several smaller businesses were using the Apple II, but the company felt it needed a newer, more advanced model to compete in the corporate desktop computing market. Thus, designers of the Apple III were forced to comply with Jobs' lofty and sometimes impractical goals. Among them was the omission of a cooling fan - it is reported Jobs found them "inelegant." The new machines were prone to overheating, and most early models had to be recalled. The Apple III was also expensive, and, though the company introduced an updated version in 1983, largely a failure.
Meanwhile various groups within Apple were working on a completely new kind of personal computer, with advanced technologies such as a graphical user interface, computer mouse, object-oriented programming and networking capabilities. These people, including Jef Raskin and Bill Atkinson, agitated for Steve Jobs to put the company's focus behind such computers.
It was only when they brought him to see the work being done at Xerox PARC on the Alto in December 1979 that Jobs decided the future was in such graphics-intensive, icon-friendly computers, and supported the competing Apple Lisa and Apple Macintosh teams. Over the objections of some PARC researchers, many of whom (such as Larry Tesler) ended up working at Apple, Xerox granted Apple engineers 3 days of access to the PARC facilities in return for selling them one million dollars in pre-IPO Apple stock (approximately $18mil. net). The Lisa debuted in January 1983 at $10,000. Once again, Apple had introduced a product that was ahead of its time, but far too expensive (the company would continue to follow this pattern for the next few years), and Apple again failed to capture the business market. The Lisa was discontinued in 1986.
The Lisa project was removed from Jobs' control midway through development. Jobs soon turned his attention to the Macintosh project, originally envisioned as a kind of "budget Lisa." The Apple Macintosh was launched in 1984 with a now famous Super Bowl advertisement based on George Orwell's novel 1984, declaring, "On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984'" — the obvious implication being that the Mac's new, "user friendly" GUI would liberate computing and information from an elite of large corporations and technocrats. Apple also spawned the concept of Mac evangelism which was pioneered by Apple employee, and later Apple Fellow, Guy Kawasaki.
The Macintosh was and continues to be a success for Apple, but not as big a success as it could have been. On a visit to Apple headquarters in Cupertino Jobs showed Bill Gates, now president of Microsoft, a prototype of the Mac GUI. In 1985 Microsoft launched Microsoft Windows, its own GUI for IBM PCs. By that point many companies were also making IBM PC Compatibles, cheaper copies of the PC. Apple did not allow other computer makers to clone the Mac. Although the first version of Windows was technologically inferior to the Mac, it and a PC clone could be had for less than the price of a Mac, and there was soon more software available for Windows as well.
Microsoft and Windows would go on to become one of the most phenomenal business success stories of the late 20th century, and Apple would never again be the world's number one personal computer maker. By 2003 Apple's share of the personal computer market had dwindled to around 5%. By 2005, Apple is even expected to lose second place in marketshare around the world (estimated 2%) to Linux which will rise to control of 2.1% of the market, worldwide.
After the failed Macintosh Portable of 1989, a much more popular laptop, the PowerBook, was introduced in the early 1990s. The first of these was co-designed with Sony, and established the modern layout for laptop computers that has remained popular ever since, with a rear hinge supporting the screen, and a keyboard placed towards the back of the lower deck with a trackball (later trackpad) in front. However, the PowerBook brand suffered a blow when the PowerBook 5300 model, suffered many build quality problems, such as their Li-Ion batteries exploding, chipping easily, and suffering from a poor quality screen. Products from Apple also include operating systems such as ProDOS, Mac OS, Mac OS X, and A/UX, networking products such as AppleTalk, and multimedia programs like QuickTime and the Final Cut series. In 1994, Apple revamped its Macintosh line with the introduction of the Power Macintosh, which was based on the PowerPC line of processors developed by IBM, Motorola and Apple. These processors utilized RISC archItecture, which differed substantially from the Motorola 680X0 series that preceded it. Apple's system software was adjusted so that most software written for the older processors could run in emulation on the PowerPC series.
After an internal power struggle with new CEO John Sculley in the 1980s, Jobs resigned from Apple and went on to found NeXT Computer, which ultimately failed, after a promising start. Later on, Apple in an effort to save the company, bought up NeXT and its UNIX based OS NeXTSTEP, and this move brought back Jobs to Apple's management. One of his first acts as new acting CEO was to instigate development of the iMac, which saved the company from going under while they had time to work on sorting out the operating system.
In early 2002, Apple unveiled a new G4 iMac. It had a hemispherical base and a flat panel all-digital display supported by a swiveling neck. This model was discontinued in the summer of 2004. A new model based on the G5 Processor was unveiled August 31, 2004 and was made available in mid-September. This model dispenses with the base altogether; placing the CPU and the rest of the computing hardware behind the flat-panel screen, which is suspended from a streamlined aluminum foot. This new iMac, dubbed the iMac G5, is the world's thinnest desktop computer, measuring in at around two inches (around 5.1 centimeters).
In 2001, Apple introduced Mac OS X, an operating system based on Jobs' NeXTStep, that finally marries the stability, reliability and security of Unix with the ease of use of the Macintosh interface in an OS targeted at professionals and consumers alike. OS X includes a program called the Classic Environment to run Mac OS 9.1-9.2.2 under OS X, making it possible to use software written for Mac OS. Through Apple's Carbon library, developers of pre-OS X software have a relatively easy means of adapting that software to take advantage of OS X's features.
Apple computers such as the PowerBook, and more recently the iBook and the iMac, are frequently featured as props in films and television series. Occasionally the heroes use Apple computers while the villains are relegated to PC compatibles. At one time, Apple ran an advertising campaign for the PowerBook featuring clips from the film Mission: Impossible.
In addition to computers, Apple has also produced consumer devices. In the 1990s, Apple released the Newton, an early PDA. It failed commercially, but was a forerunner of devices such as Palm Pilot and its descendants, and PocketPCs. Through the 1990s, Microsoft began to gain a much larger percentage of new computer users than Apple. As a result Apple fell from controlling 20% of the total personal computer market to 5% by the end of the decade. The company was struggling financially when on August 6, 1997 Microsoft bought a $150 million non-voting share of company as a result of a court settlement between themselves and Apple. (Microsoft has since sold all Apple stock holdings.) Perhaps more significantly, Microsoft simultaneously announced its continued support for Mac versions of its office suite, Microsoft Office and soon created a Macintosh Software Unit. This reversed the earlier trend within Microsoft that resulted in poor Mac versions of their software and resulted in several award-winning releases. However market share continues to decline, reaching 3% by 2004.
In May of 2001, after much speculation, Apple announced the opening of a line of Apple retail stores, to be located throughout the major U.S. computer buying markets. The stores were designed for two primary purposes: to stem the tide of Apple's declining share of the computer market, as well as a response to poor marketing of Apple products at third-party retail outlets. Initially, the Apple Stores were opened in the U.S. only, but in late 2003, Apple opened its first Apple Store outside the USA, in Tokyo's Ginza district. Ginza was followed by a store in Osaka, Japan in August of 2004. More shops for Japan are supposedly in the works. Shops in London, UK and Birmingham, UK are due to open in November 2004, and early 2005 respectively. Also in an effort to court a more broad market Apple opened several "mini" stores as well in October 2004. These stores are only one half the square footage of the smallest "normal" store and thus can be placed in several smaller markets.
In October of 2001, Apple introduced the iPod, a portable digital music player. Its signature was the incredible amount of storage space, initially 5 GB, able to hold approximately 1,000 songs, compared to 20-30 songs available from Flash-based players. Apple has since revised its iPod line several times in the past few years with newer versions, a slimmer, more compact design, Windows compatibility, AAC compatibility, storage sizes of up to 40 GB, and the ability to easily hook it up to a car or home stereo. On October 26th, 2004 Apple released a color version of their award winning iPod which can not only play music but also show photos. This was done in an effort to broadend the appeal and further secure the 92% market share over hard drive based players.
Apple has revolutionized the computer and music industry by signing the five major record companies to join its new music download service, the successful iTunes Music Store. Unlike other fee-based music services, the iTunes Music Store charges a flat $0.99 per song (or $9.99 per album). Users have more flexiblility than on previous on-line music services. For example, they can burn CDs including the purchased songs (although a given playlist can be burned to CD a limited number of times), share and play the songs on up to 5 computers, and of course download songs onto an iPod.
The iTunes Music Store was launched in 2003 with 2 million downloads in only 16 days; all of which were purchased only on Macintosh computers. Apple has released a version of iTunes for Windows, allowing Windows users the ability to access the store as well. In addition, Apple plans for a worldwide release for its music store; currently, it is only available to customers in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany.
In January of 2004 Apple released a more compact version of their iPod player, the 4-GiB iPod mini. Although the mini held fewer songs than the full-size iPod, it was cheaper, smaller, and met with high demand.
In June of 2004 Apple opened their iTunes Music Store in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. A European Union version opened October of 2004. A version for Canada is set to open in November of 2004. On October 14, 2004, Apple sold its 150 millionth song (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2004/oct/14itunes.html) on the iTunes Music Store to Beth Santisteven from Ignacio, Colorado. The song downloaded was “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill.
Hardware currently made by Apple
Devices formerly made by Apple
Apple as a corporation
Trademark dispute with Apple Corps
In 1981 Apple Corps, i.e. The Beatles filed suit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The suit settled with an undisclosed amount being paid to Apple Corps. This amount has been estimated to $50–$200 million.
In 1986 Apple added MIDI capabilities to its computers, and in 1989 Apple Corps sued again. In 1991 another settlement of around $26.5 million was reached. At this time, an Apple employee added a system sound called xylophone to the Macintosh operating system, but was forced by the legal department to change the name. It was changed to sosumi, which was asserted to be Japanese for "the absence of musicality", but actually should be read phonetically as "So, sue me".
The 1991 settlement outlines the rights each company has to the Apple trademark. While Apple Corps was given the right to use the name on any "creative works whose principle content is music", Apple Computer was given the right to use the name on ""goods or services...used to reproduce, run, play or otherwise deliver such content," but not on content distributed on physical media.  (http://news.com.com/Apple+vs.+Apple+Perfect+harmony/2100-1027_3-5378401.html)
Trademark dispute with Abdul Traya
In 1999 Apple tried to acquire the domain name AppleImac.com, from a Lebanese, Canadian named Abdul Traya (b.1982). This was a huge embarrassment for Apple Computer - the release of the iMac was delayed because of one teenager.
Defamation dispute with Carl Sagan
A "snapshot" of its own data center
On January 8, 2004 at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Apple revealed information about its own internal data center with which it runs the company. The following is a partial list of products it used as revealed during the 2004 Expo, with each product followed by its applications, according to D. Rally, who at that time was Apple's senior IT director (as cited in Fried, 2004). It should be noted that such information could change constantly, and judging from Apple's past information-disclosure practices (Fried, 2004), it is possible that a similar public revelation will never occur again.
Furthermore, according to Fried (2004), Apple "[used] its own products for most desktop tasks, including e-mail, instant messaging and Web browsing." Presumably, these products were Apple Mail, iChat, and Safari, respectively.
For data storage, Apple over the years has used servers from EMC, then IBM, and by 2005, it plans to use mostly Xserve RAID servers.
Apple have been criticised for their vertically integrated business model, which runs against the grain of much of the 'received wisdom' of economists, particularly for the computer industry. However, the company is profitable. Other criticisms have included that it has been very personality driven, especially in the two different eras of Steve Jobs' tenure; some even regard it as being a cult, or at least having cult-like features. Jobs' infamous reality distortion field is often cited as a criticism. From a technical standpoint, Apple have also been criticised for having a closed and proprietary architecture with the original Macintosh, and a "not invented here" syndrome against adopting open standards. That trend has been largely reversed with OS X, and the company now has an official policy of adopting open industry standards where they exist. Apple have now used industry standard hardware technologies for many years, which has helped to lower prices significantly. Many Apple technologies have become industry standards where no former standard existed, e.g. ZeroConf network configuration, FireWire, etc. OS X itself is now based on an open source kernel and core operating system. Some third-party developers are are also critical of the competing factions within Apple themselves, illustrated by the perception of an ongoing rivalry between the developers of Cocoa, which came from NeXT, and those of Carbon, which came from Apple. This rivalry is seen as counterproductive and unnecessary by many developers.
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