This Week in Apple History
Published November 11th, 2004
It's a busy week in the world of Apple history, starting with this week in 1980 when Apple files to go public. Of course, that does nothing for those folks in Massachusetts, as the state's regulatory agencies forbids its residents from participating.
One year later, in 1981, Apple dropped the price of its troubled Apple III product line, improving several aspects of the computer in the first place. Alas, not even adding an optional hard drive helps this clunker, and the Apple III eventually gets canned.
Moving on to the juicier bits of this week in Apple history, it was this week in 1983 that Microsoft introduced the absolutely horrid Windows (1.0). Featuring tiled Windows instead of freely moving cascading windows, Windows was nevertheless based on what Microsoft saw in the Mac prototypes given to the company by Apple in order to facilitate Microsoft's promise to develop software for the Mac. This is one of the stories covered extensively in Apple Confidential 2.0.
In 1994, another ill-fated project was announced, with the introduction of the PowerPC-based Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP - pronounced "chirp") by Apple, IBM, and Motorola, the AIM consortium. CHRP promises to be the end-all, be-all of processors, with the Mac OS, Windows, Unix, and OS/2 all promised to run on it. This ended up not really happening, however, and CHRP ended up going nowhere.
For those trivia buffs, the only CHRP-based Mac to be built was the StarMax 6000 from Motorola, built at the end of the cloning era, but never shipped to the public. TMO reviewed the StarMax 6000 in November of 1997 (when the magazine was still named Webintosh), if you want to get a taste of what this machine might have brought to the Mac world.
This week in 1996, Apple announced a new line of cafes called the Apple Cafe, one of the first high-profile cybercafes featuring computers, Internet access, and food. Cool stuff, but the Apple Cafes ended up having a short life.
Perhaps the biggest news in Apple history this week, at least in contemporary terms, is the introduction of the original 5GB iPod this week in 2001. Remember that? It was received by many, including this editor, as too pricey for its capacity, and an odd addition to Apple's product line as music players weren't that big a deal.
Of course, three years later, the iPod is the biggest consumer electronics force on the planet, and the primary driving force behind Apple's current growth.
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.1981:
1980: Apple files the paperwork required by the Securities and Exchange Commission for its initial public offering. Underwriters Morgan Stanley and Hambrecht & Quist are expected to take the company public in early December, with shares priced at US$14 each (for a P/E ratio of 92, based upon fiscal 1980's earnings of US$11.7 million). Because Massachusetts' securities law doesn't allow offerings with prices of more than 20 times earnings, the state bans individual residents from participating in the IPO, deeming it "too risky."
1981: Apple announces a revised Apple III with a base price of US$3,495. The company maintains that reliability problems with the original US$4,340 model introduced in 1980 were linked to shortcomings in manufacturing and quality-control procedures rather than the underlying design of the computer. Nonetheless, the new Apple III features different sockets, updated software, memory expansion up to 256K, and an optional 5MB hard disk drive. Based upon the Seagate ST506 mechanism, the US$3,495 ProFile is an important addition to the system since IBM doesn't yet offer a hard drive for its US$1,565 PC, which was introduced in August.
1983: Microsoft announces Windows at the Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York. CEO Bill Gates predicts that by the end of 1984, Windows will be used on more than 90 percent of all IBM PC-compatible computers.
1994: Apple, IBM, and Motorola agree to a PowerPC-based Common Hardware Reference Platform computer. Built using industry-standard off-the-shelf parts rather than special, proprietary chips, the trio promise that so-called CHRP (pronounced chirp) systems can run a variety of operating systems, including Apple's Mac OS, IBM's OS/2, Microsoft's Windows NT, and UNIX-based AIX. Apple hopes hardware manufacturers will be more willing to license the Mac OS if they can build CHRP-compliant machines using industry-standard parts rather than rely on Apple for the Mac hardware as well as the operating system. IBM and Motorola hope to encourage more vendors to build systems around their PowerPC chip so that they can reduce its costs with increased volume.
Two days after the CHRP announcement, Dr. Gilbert F. Amelio joins Apple's board of directors. Amelio is chairman, president, and CEO of National Semiconductor, the world's fourth-largest manufacturer of computer chips. Amelio holds 16 patents and coinvented the world's first charge-coupled device (CCD), which is used in most video cameras produced today. Amelio earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, entitling him to be addressed as "Doctor Amelio."
1995: A year after announcing CHRP, Apple, IBM, and Motorola release the specifications at the Fall COMDEX in Las Vegas. CHRP is renamed the PowerPC Microprocessor Common Hardware Reference Platform, or simply the PowerPC Platform (PPCP). PowerPC alliance members hope to ship PPCP systems in the second half of 1996.
1996: Apple announces its intention to license its name and logo to Mega Bytes International BVI. The London-based restaurant company plans to open a chain of Apple Cafes around the globe with the first 15,000-square-foot restaurant scheduled to open in late 1997 in a trendy Los Angeles neighborhood. Each Apple Cafe will be designed by Landmark International to entice up to 250 patrons with Internet connections, CD-ROM machines, tableside video-conferencing units allowing diners to talk to one another, and a shop selling Apple T-shirts and software. The menu promises eclectic and health-conscious food.
1997: Apple introduces the first Macintosh models based upon the PowerPC G3. The Power Mac G3 is available in both desktop and minitower models, configured with either a 233MHz or 266MHz CPU. And there's even a 250MHz PowerBook G3 model (code-named Kanga) to satisfy road warriors.
2001: Apple introduces the iPod. The US$399 device isn't the first MP3-player on the market, but it's a breakthrough product nonetheless. Other MP3-playback devices take forever to load with music since they use relatively slow USB (Universal Serial Bus) for data transfer, and have limited capacity since they use solid state memory. The 6.5-ounce iPod's huge 5GB hard drive can be filled with approximately 1,000 CD-quality songs in ten minutes through its fast FireWire port, and seamless integration with iTunes 2.0 makes synchronizing music libraries a snap. Backed by a ten-hour battery life, the iPod is essentially an all-day jukebox you can put in your pocket.
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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