This Week in Apple History
Updated May 17th, 2005
[Authors Note: Owen and I are still behind in this series, but are working hard to catch up - Bryan]
This week in Apple history, we look back at one of the few product failures in Apple's past, the Apple III. It was this week in 1980 that the Apple III was introduced to much fanfare at the National Computer Conference in Anaheim, California. The Apple III was intended to take Apple further into the growing market of business personal computers, but design problems kept the Apple II replacement from ever having much success at all, in any market.
It was this week in 1983 that Apple had to revise the ship date for the Mac project, yet again. The previous target date had been May 16th, 1983, revised from 1982, and when that day came, Steve Jobs moved the target to January of 1984. Of course, that delay corresponded nicely with the then-controversial ad campaign known as "1984," so the delay was most likely well worth it.
Speaking of delays, it was this week in 1986 that The Woz, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, got a degree in electrical and engineering sciences (a EE degree) from US Berkeley. This, of course, happened more than 10 years after Mr. Wozniak all but gave birth to the personal computer industry by designing the Apple I by himself.
Another market that Apple helped pioneer, that of the Internet Service Provider, was born this week in 1988 with the introduction of AppleLink-Personal Edition. AppleLink was an online service with a graphical front-end for the Apple II. The company Apple worked with on the project eventually changed its name to a more familiar one today, America Online.
Jumping ahead a few years, it was this week in 2001 that Apple launched what would become the fabulously successful line of brick and mortar Apple Stores in Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, and the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California.
In 2004, Eminem, a pop singer with a name taken from a trademarked candy, is given the go-ahead to sue Apple, MTV, and Apple's advertising firm for copyright infringement. The suit centers around an Apple iPod commercial that features a very young boy rapping the lyrics to Eminem's opus, "Slim Shady." It seems that Eminem had never granted permission for his lyrics to be used, and wanted some 10 million dollars in endorsement fees, even though his performance of the song wasn't going to be used. Apple ran the commercial anyway, and got sued.
Also in 2004, it was this week that Apple Chief Software Technology Officer Avie Tevanian told the world that Apple was going to slow its blistering pace of releasing one major OS upgrade per year. Since the first release of Mac OS X, Apple had released a new version every 12 months, a development rate that Mr. Tevanian said was no longer sustainable.
The biggest news, however, may be the creation of a new iPod division at Apple, as the company splits into an iPod and Mac company, each with equal importance. The news shakes up many Mac users concerned that the iPod was going to usurp their favorite computers in terms of relevance at Apple, as the shades of the Apple II and Macintosh battle at Apple in the mid 1980s were clear to see. Those fears are unfounded, however, as the iPod becomes not only a major profit source for Apple, but also creates the iPod Halo Effect that eventually starts drawing Windows users over to the Mac platform.
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.
1980: After two years of development, the Apple III is announced during the National Computer Conference (NCC) in Anaheim, California. Although based upon a Synertek 8-bit 6502A microprocessor running at 2MHz (twice the speed of the Apple II), the Apple III was the company's first major departure from the Apple II architecture. Aimed at business users, the Apple III was plagued by faulty components and design flaws that lead to expensive and embarrassing recalls.
1983: Steve Jobs' revised ship date for the Macintosh passes without a product introduction. After elbowing his way into Jef Raskin's Mac project, Jobs bet the Lisa project manager $5,000 that the Mac would beat the Lisa to market in early 1982. Jobs lost that bet, and set a new target of May 16, 1983, to coincide with the National Computer Conference in Anaheim, California. Despite heroic efforts, the Mac team failed to meet the new deadline, and didn't ship the revolutionary new computer until January of the following year.
1986: A decade after single-handedly designing the original Apple I, Steve Wozniak finally receives his bachelor's degree in electrical and engineering sciences from UC Berkeley (he had left several credits shy of graduation, but was awarded equivalency credits for work done at Apple). When he gave the valedictory address, Woz told his fellow students, "Happiness is the only thing life's about. You don't buy a computer unless you think it's a road to greater happiness. You don't do anything in life unless it's for happiness. That's the only way you can measure life, by the number of smiles per day. It's food, fun, and friends."
1988: Apple introduces AppleLink-Personal Edition, an Apple II online service with a graphical front end, a vast improvement over the text-based telecommunication services common at the time. Apple fought with the developer, Quantum Computer Services, and aborted plans for a Mac version. In 1992, Apple changed its mind and again turned to the same developer-by this time renamed America Online-to create a Mac telecom service that would eventually be released as eWorld.
1990: Two years after Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement over similarities between the Macintosh operating system and Windows 2.03, Microsoft releases Windows version 3.0 at the City Center Theater in New York. At the time, System 7.0 was still under development at Apple and Cupertino's executives continued to argue over the wisdom of licensing the Mac OS.
1997: During an informal fireside chat at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, advisor Steve Jobs calls the growing crowd of legal Macintosh clone manufacturers "leeches" because he feels their negotiated $50 per unit fee is insufficient to cover Apple's costs.
A week after the WWDC, Apple announces that it is spinning off its Newton division. Jobs' opposition to the Newton and licensing the Mac put him on a collision course with CEO Gil Amelio. Two months later, Jobs took over Apple from Amelio, and quickly killed the Newton spin-off and put an end to the era of Mac clones.
2001: The first two Apple Stores open at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, and the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California. In all, Apple will open 25 retail outlets by year's end. Separately, Apple announces it intention to become the first computer vendor to move to an all LCD flat panel display lineup, as that Mac OS X will be preinstalled alongside Mac OS 9 on all new Macs.
2002: Apple updates the 12.1- and 14.1-inch iBook notebooks with PowerPC G3 processors running at up to 700 MHz, twice the on-chip level 2 cache, a more powerful ATI Mobility Radeon graphics processor, and larger hard drives.
2003: Apple celebrates the second anniversary of its first retail store, revealing that in the past two years it has opened 57 retail stores in 26 states, hosted over 15 million visitors, and sold over $650 million of products through its retail stores. Despite opposition from independent Macintosh retailers that feel their sales are being cannibalized, Apple vows to open 20 new stores in the coming year.
2004: US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor gives the go ahead for pop singer Eminem to sue Apple, TBWA/Chiat/Day, MTV, and Viacom, MTV's parent company for a commercial that used lyrics to Eminem's "Slim Shady," as sung by a little boy. Judge Taylor threw out several complaints but gave the go ahead for the rest of the suit to continue.
Apple also managed to score a victory a victory in its music business this week by landing a bundling deal for iTunes in China with PC maker Founder. The deal will bring iTunes to millions of Chinese Windows users who might not have otherwise been exposed to Apple's technology.
Apple Chief Software Technology Officer Avie Tevanian tells a technology conference that Apple will slow the pace of its operating system releases, down from one major release per year. The next release, Tiger, will be closer to 20 months in the making.
A major shakeup at Apple is also taking place as the company creates a new iPod division, turning the rest of what used to be all of Apple into the Macintosh Division. The new division will be headed by Jon Rubinstein, former Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering for Apple, while Timothy Cook, former Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Operations, will head the Macintosh division. The reorganization reflects the growing importance of the iPod and iTunes to not only Apple's bottom line, but also the company's ability to bring new customers to its growing product lines.
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.
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