This Week in Apple History
May 14th, 2004
[Editor's Note: Please note that we are behind in publishing this series. This install covers the week of April 11 - 17, but is being published in May. I very much hope to get caught up next week. - Editor]
It's another busy week in Apple history; This week we have Apple cofounder Ron Wayne selling his stake in the company he just founded back to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the introduction of many new Apple computers, from the Apple II to the eMac, the ouster of Steve Jobs as head of the Mac division, and the birth of Pink, the ill-fated OS project that Apple worked on with IBM. We also have some massive quarterly losses from Apple, as well as repeated returns to profitability after the return of Steve Jobs, representing some real ups and downs for the company.
Most of the following news events are covered in great detail in Apple Confidential 2.0 by Owen Linzmayer, while we also gleaned some interesting developments from TMO's archives. Without further ado, however, we offer you a look at This Week in Apple History:
1976: Fearful of the personal financial liabilities of their partnership agreement, Ronald Wayne sells his 10 percent stake in Apple Computer back to the two Steves for just US$800, just twelve days after cofounding the company. Had he stuck it out and sold at the stock's peak in 2000, Wayne's holding would have been worth over half a billion dollars.
1977: Apple introduces the Apple II (US$1,298) at the first West Coast Computer Faire held in San Francisco. The Apple II was the first product to carry the now-famous rainbow striped Apple logo.
1985: Apple's board of directors authorizes John Sculley to remove Steve Jobs as executive VP and general manager of the faltering Macintosh division. Sculley, who genuinely liked Jobs, didn't act right away, hoping to make a smooth transition. Only after discovering Jobs' plan for a coup the following month did Sculley finally strip the founder of all operational responsibilities.
1986: Apple announces the Mac 512Ke (US$2,000). The "e" supposedly stood for "enhanced," but the principal improvement over the Mac 512K released in September 1984 is that the 512Ke sported an internal 800K 3.5-inch disk drive versus the single-sided 400K model used previously.
1991: CEO John Sculley gives a secret demo to a group of IBM's top engineers. They saw Apple's secret object-oriented operating system (code-named Pink, after the color of the index cards on which the feature set was written during a March 1987 brainstorming session) running on an IBM PS/2 Model 70, making it look and feel a lot like a Mac running System 7, Apple's latest OS that was to be released the following month. Impressed, IBM signed a letter of intent with Apple on July 3, pledging to help finish Pink and give Apple a license to its RISC (reduced instruction set computing) processor, the PowerPC.
1992: Apple's lawsuit against Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard is dealt a serious blow when U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker rules that most of the Windows and NewWave interface elements were either covered by Microsoft's 1985 license with Apple or could not be protected under copyright law.
1996: Under newly-installed CEO Gil Amelio, Apple reports a US$740 million net loss, the biggest quarterly loss ever for a company based in Silicon Valley, leaving the firm with less than five weeks' operating cash.
1997: Oracle CEO, and best friend of Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, continues to talk up his bid to acquire Apple.
Apple reports its biggest quarterly loss to date for the company's second fiscal quarter (the March quarter. The loss for the quarter comes in at US$708 million, on falling revenues of US$1.6 million. Most of the losses are attributed to the company's purchase of NeXT and a restructuring charge. Two days later, Ceo Gil Amelio sends a letter to Apple customers that tries to explain the massive lost reported by the company.
1998: Apple reports its second profitable quarter in a row, with a profit of US$55 million. Compared to the previous year's loss of US$708 million, the company is firing on all cylinders.
ARM Holdings Plc goes public. Apple had acquired 43 percent of ARM for US$2.5 million when it adopted the ARM 610 chip for its Newton development in 1990. Apple sold large blocks of ARM stock over the next four years for a combined pretax profit of US$792 million, but had it timed the market perfectly and sold its remaining shares at their January 3, 2000 peak, they would have been worth US$3.3 billion. Regardless, Apple's investment in ARM more than made up for the entire outlay on the Newton project and provided much-needed revenue during Apple's dark days.
Apple sues former PowerPC processor developer Exponential Technology, asking the courts to prevent the company from selling its patent portfolio.
1999: Apple introduces the iMac (revision D) at a list price of US$1,199. Available in five fruity flavors -- Blueberry, Grape, Lime, Strawberry, and Tangerine -- the new CRT-based iMac sports a 333MHz PowerPC G3.
Former Apple Mac Evangelist Guy Kawasaki kills the Evangelist, a powerful mailing list for Mac advocates he had maintained for many years. Mr. Kawasaki pointed to Apple's resurgence in the market place as reason for stopping the list.
Apple announces a profit of US$135 million for the March quarter of 1999. The company also announces increased sales in Japan, record lows in inventory management, and many new customers that have come to me Mac platform.
The History Channel pays tribute to Apple, Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak.
Dell, Fry's, Microcenter, and other retailers all come back on as iPod retailers after contract negotiations broke down over Apple's reseller agreement.
A report from the LA Times is published saying that Apple was in the process of trying to buy Universal Music. Apple officials deny the story, but the rumors get attention from Merrill Lynch and other parties.
is the author of Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the Worlds 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.
This Week in Apple History Archives
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