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This Week in Apple History
by Owen Linzmayer
& Bryan Chaffin

February 8-14: Apple's Beginnings, The Newton, & Star Trek
February 9th, 2004

There are really lots of "beginnings" for Apple, and this week in Apple history, two prime figures in those beginnings were born. Mike "Ace" Markkula and Apple's first president were both born this week one year apart in 1942 and 1943.

Another beginning this week for Apple that had a slightly less spectacular ending was the Newton. While the project had been in the works for some time, it was this week in 1991 that Michael Tchao convinced then-CEO John Sculley to go with the Newton that was eventually released, rather than the tablet-style John Sculley had originally championed.

It was this week one year later that another infamous project got off the ground: The Star Trek project was an effort to port the Mac OS to the Intel platform.

This week in 1997, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison tells the press that he and Steve Jobs had, at one point, plotted to take over Apple, an eventually made unnecessary when Apple bought Steve Jobs' computer company, NeXT. One year later, iCEO Steve Jobs has narrowed the search for a permanent CEO to fewer than five people. The search was further narrowed later on to just one person, Steve Jobs himself.

This week in Apple History:

February 8-14

1942: Armas Clifford Markkula is born. Thirty four years later, "Mike" would come out of retirement to help Steve Jobs write Apple's first business plan. Markkula provided seed capital for Apple, served as its first chairman, and was the real power behind the throne until Jobs regained control in 1997.

1943: Michael M. Scott is born. Thirty four years later, former coworker Markkula convinced "Scotty" to become Apple's first president.

1981: Apple dropped the problematic built-in clock from the Apple III (US$4,190).

1991: Michael Tchao, the Newton's product marketing manager, convinces CEO John Sculley to focus development efforts on the smaller Pocket Newt (Junior), rather than the larger tablet-sized Newton Plus favored by the old-guard engineers. Meanwhile, Apple releases the backlit Mac Portable, a large "laptop" with a 9.8-inch monochrome 640 x 400 pixel active matrix screen.

1992: Networking giant Novell proposes porting the Mac OS to Intel hardware. Apple CEO John Sculley approved the idea and the two companies immediately began working together on a project that came to be called Star Trek. Despite an encouraging start, the project was abandoned in June 1993 due to budget considerations.

1993: With US$250 million down the tubes after eight years of struggling, NeXT laid off 280 of its 530 employees and sold its hardware business to Canon, an event that would be remembered as "Black Tuesday." As NeXT was dropping its hardware, Apple was expanding its product line with the introduction the Centris 610 (US$2,520) and 650 (US$2,700) along with the Mac Color Classic (US$1,390), Mac LC III (US$1,350), and Quadra 800 (US$4,700).

1997: Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO and best friend of Steve Jobs, admits he and Steve plotted to launch a hostile takeover of Apple.

1998: John Thompson, vice chairman at Heidrick & Struggles, the company looking for a "permanent" CEO for Apple with the help of "iCEO" Steve Jobs, told Bloomberg that the search had ben narrowed to fewer than five candidates. Of course, Steve Jobs himself ended up taking on that permanent role. That same week, the International Standards Organization (ISO) announces that QuickTime had been accepted as the basis for MPEG-4. In Europe, Apple exec Diego Piacentini tells Reuters that Apple's european operations were "concerned" about the lack of a sub-US$1,000 Mac model.

1999: The Boston Globe first reports that Macworld Boston might be moving to New York City's bigger Javitz Center, which it did that very summer. This past year (in 2003), IDG World Expos announced that the show would be moving back to Boston again, with or without Apple. In the face of growing concern over issues with Windows and older DOS code not being fully compliant with the year switching from 1999 to 2000 (the Y2K "bug"), Apple announces that the Mac is Y2K compliant. The company fails to capitalize on this in any meaningful way.

2002: Apple previews QuickTime 6 on February 12th. The next day, Apple announces a deal with Sun and Ericcson that makes QuickTime the multimedia engine for Ericcson phones and PDAs. The three companies take the opportunity to tout the value of open standards in a direct challenge to Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

2003: The news that Apple laid off 260 people in December was revealed in company SEC filings; the layoffs hit the company's corporate ranks. Apple's layoffs during the preceiding two years numbered in the hundreds, while most other PC companies laid off workers in the many thousands. Apple also officially announces Xserve RAID, the company's enterprise-oriented storage solution, along with an update to the Xserve line. Even while Apple is announcing these new enterprise server and storage solutions, Steve Jobs' other company, Pixar, is busily replacing its Sun-powered rendering farm with an Intel and Linux solution. Down Under, The Age reports that Apple is looking for a new head honcho for its Australian operations.

is the author of Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company, published by No Starch Press earlier this year (US$13.97 - Amazon).

is the editor of The Mac Observer, and was egged on, in-part, in his obsession with the Mac by Owen's first book, The Mac Bathroom Reader.

You can send your comments directly to Owen and Bryan, or you can also post your comments below.

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