Main article: History of Apple
See also: Apple Inc. litigation
1976–1980: The early years
The Apple I, Apple's first product. Sold as an assembled circuit board, it lacked basic features such as a keyboard, monitor, and case. The owner of this unit added a keyboard and a wooden case.
Apple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, to sell the Apple I personal computer kit. They were hand-built by Wozniak and first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple I was sold as a motherboard (with CPU, RAM, and basic textual-video chips)—less than what is today considered a complete personal computer. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 and was market-priced at $666.66.
Apple was incorporated January 3, 1977 without Wayne, who sold his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800. Mike Markkula provided essential business expertise and funding of $250,000 during the incorporation of Apple.
The Apple II was introduced on April 16, 1977 at the first West Coast Computer Faire. It differed from its major rivals, the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, because it came with color graphics and an open architecture. While early models used ordinary cassette tapes as storage devices, they were superseded by the introduction of a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive and interface, the Disk II.
The Apple II was chosen to be the desktop platform for the first "killer app" of the business world—the VisiCalc spreadsheet program. VisiCalc created a business market for the Apple II, and gave home users an additional reason to buy an Apple II—compatibility with the office. According to Brian Bagnall, Apple exaggerated its sales figures and was a distant third place to Commodore and Tandy until VisiCalc came along.
By the end of the 1970s, Apple had a staff of computer designers and a production line. The Apple II was succeeded by the Apple III in May 1980 as the company competed with IBM and Microsoft in the business and corporate computing market.
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 $1 million in pre-IPO Apple stock. Jobs was immediately convinced that all future computers would use a GUI, and development of a GUI began for the Apple Lisa.
1981–1985: Lisa and Macintosh
The heroine from Apple's 1984 ad, set in a dystopian future modeled after the Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, set the tone for the introduction of the Macintosh.
Steve Jobs began working on the Apple Lisa in 1978 but in 1982 he was pushed from the Lisa team due to infighting, and took over Jef Raskin's low-cost-computer project, the Macintosh. A turf war broke out between Lisa's "corporate shirts" and Jobs' "pirates" over which product would ship first and save Apple. Lisa won the race in 1983 and became the first personal computer sold to the public with a GUI, but was a commercial failure due to its high price tag and limited software titles. The Macintosh 128K, the first Macintosh computer.
In 1984, Apple next launched the Macintosh. Its debut was announced by the now famous $1.5 million television commercial, "1984". It was directed by Ridley Scott, aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984, and is now considered a watershed event for Apple's success and a masterpiece.
The Macintosh initially sold well, but follow-up sales were not strong. The machine's fortunes changed with the introduction of the LaserWriter, the first PostScript laser printer to be offered at a reasonable price point, and PageMaker, an early desktop publishing package. The Mac was particularly powerful in this market due to its advanced graphics capabilities, which were already necessarily built-in to create the...