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This Week in Apple History
by Owen Linzmayer
& Bryan Chaffin

April 19 - 24: Apple IIc Beats Mac, Mission: Impossible, & 5 Million iMacs
Updated April 19th, 2005

There are lots of interesting things happening this week in Apple History. For instance, this week in 1984 we bear witness to the slow start of Macintosh when the Apple IIc sells more units in one day than the Mac had in the preceding three months. Perhaps that's why Apple released it in a celebration called "Apple II Forever."

Cutting ahead 12 years, Apple unveiled the ill-fated Mission: Impossible tie-in. The advertising campaign, intended to support the equally ill-fated PowerBook 5300c failed, largely because said PowerBook was busily being recalled.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a big surprise, then, when one year later CEO Gil Amelio has to write an open letter to Apple customers apologizing for the US$708 million loss posted earlier in the month. Of course, as the letter explains, most of that loss went to pay Steve Jobs for the acquisition of NeXT, and we all know how that acquisition ended with the ouster of Gil Amelio. To everything, turn, turn, turn...

It was this week in 1999, that Apple launched its very successful Final Cut Pro, digital video editing software that helps Apple carve out a big slice of that market.

It was this week in 2001 that Apple announced a remarkable milestone, having sold the five millionth iMac. The iMac, which was released in 1998 has been one of the most successful computers in history.

You can find more information on many of the entries below in Owen Linzmayer's excellent Apple Confidential 2.0. The other entries can be found in TMO's archives, and we link to articles whenever we can.

April 18-24

1984: On the very same day the ill-fated Apple III was quietly discontinued after selling only 120,000 units over four years, the new Apple IIc (US$1,295) was introduced in San Francisco's Moscone Center during a boisterous celebration called "Apple II Forever" that was interrupted briefly by an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale. Apple took orders for more than 52,000 Apple IIc systems in a single day, surpassing the number of Macs the firm had sold in the prior three months.

1996: Apple unveils a $15 million tie-in with Paramount Pictures' Mission: Impossible film starring Tom Cruise. The promotion featured television and print advertisements, a special web site, and cosponsorship of the movie's premiere. The choice of a film named Mission: Impossible seemed particularly ironic, since Apple had just reported its largest loss ever-$740 million for the second quarter-and some wags commented that newly installed CEO Gilbert F. Amelio was facing a task more daunting than any mission Mr. Phelps had ever accepted. Even though Tom Cruise used a PowerBook 5300c in the movie, the tie-in was a failure because it was generating demand for a product that dealers didn't have in stock due to a four-month-long recall over the possibility of exploding batteries.

1997: Gil Amelio writes an open letter to Apple's customers trying to put a positive spin on the US$708 million loss posted earlier that month. This loss was on top of a US$740 million loss reported the year before.

Apple unveils Workgroup Servers 9650/233 and 7350/180, two of the last dedicated hardware server solutions from Apple until the launch of Xserve in May of 2002.

1998: Apple bans reporters from attending the company's annual shareholder meeting, a first for the company. Apple had traditionally allowed the press to attend these events.

1999: At the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, Apple announced and began shipping Final Cut Pro (US$999), a revolutionary new software application that combined professional-quality video editing, compositing, and special effects in one package. Combined with a digital video camera and a then top-of-the-line Power Mac G3, Final Cut Pro was the keystone in a complete video editing system that cost a tenth the price of traditional systems. The Final Cut Pro code had been purchased the previous year from Macromedia for $7 million. Macromedia had originally hoped to use Final Cut Pro to compete with Adobe's Premiere, but had grown discouraged with the delays in the program's development.

Apple releases QuickTime Server as an Open Source product, marking Apple's first major foray into the Open Source movement.

The first chink in Apple's renewed retail strategy appears as Best Buy refuses to carry Apple's "Fruit Flavored" iMacs. Best Buy had returned to Apple's fold as a Mac retailer based on the smash success of the iMacs, but the electronics retailer balked at Apple's requirement that its retailers carry all five colors of this iMac, the first mutlicolor model to hit the market. Best Buy wanted instead to focus on only the most popular colors.

2000: Apple posts a profit of US$233 million, up more than 73% over the year before. Read more in our live coverage of Apple's Q2 press conference, as well as Wes George's analysis of those results.

Apple Reportedly "considers it options" over the latest iMac-knockoff to hit the market, made by a company called FishPC.

2001: A little over two and one half years after the introduction of the first iMac, Apple announced that it had shipped its five millionth iMac computer. Initially derived as a gimmick that lacked a floppy and expansion capabilities, the cute iMac caught the public's imagination and sold like gangbusters. "Simply put, the iMac has redefined the consumer and education computer, ushering in several industry firsts including USB, FireWire, desktop movies, wireless networking, quiet fan-less operation and world-class design," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "I look forward to shipping our ten millionth iMac in a few years." Apple churned out variations of the CRT-based iMac in fourteen different colors before revamping the line with a stunning new LCD-based model in early 2002.

Apple reports Q2 profit of US$43 million. Read more in our live coverage of Apple's Q2 press conference.

2003: Apple is issued three software patents, one for the way 3D graphics are handled, one dealing with technologies relating to text-to-speech, and one dealing with creating summaries of a body of text.

Apple very quietly updates the iBook to 900 MHz, doing so without so much as a press release.

Apple also officially announces a "music related event" for April 28th that further fuels speculation that the company will be launching an online music store.

2004: Apple announces speed bumped iBooks at 1 GHz and 1.2 GHz, as well as 1.33 GHz 12" Aluminum PowerBooks, and 1.5 GHz Aluminum 15" and 17" PowerBooks.

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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