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This Week in Apple History
by Owen Linzmayer
& Bryan Chaffin

December 12-18: Apple Goes Public, 1984 Airs
Published December 16th, 2004

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:

December 12-18

1980: Underwriters Morgan Stanley and Hambrecht & Quist take Apple Computer public in the largest IPO since Ford Motor Company went public in 1956. Originally filed to sell at US$14 a share, the stock opens at $22 and all 4.6 million shares sell out in minutes. The stock rises almost 32 percent on its first day of trading to close at US$29, giving the company a market valuation of US$1.778 billion. For fiscal year 1980, Apple showed a profit of US$11.7 million, or 24 cents a share, on revenue of US$118 million (compared to US$8.3 billion in fiscal 2004), giving the IPO a P/E ratio of 92. Of Apple's 1,000 employees, more than 40 become instant millionaires thanks to their stock options.

1983: Apple's “1984” commercial airs during the 1:00 AM sign-off slot at a small television station (KMVT, Channel 11) in Twin Falls, Idaho, thereby ensuring that the commercial would qualify for that year's advertising awards. The 30-second spot directed by Ridley Scott would achieve legendary status the following month after airing during the Super Bowl.

1989: Almost seven years after the Lisa's introduction, Xerox files a suit in U.S. District Court for Northern California challenging the validity of Apple's copyrights covering the Lisa and Mac graphical user interfaces. Within three months the court would dismiss all but one of Xerox's counts. Admittedly, Apple based many of the concepts embodied in the Lisa on technology its employees first saw at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center during two 1979 visits. But Xerox had granted Apple access to PARC in exchange for the opportunity to invest in the company prior to its IPO.

1992: Apple employee Ko Isono commits suicide. Isono had worked on the software that controlled the display of text and graphics on the Newton, which was still more than eight months from shipping. In the previous May, upon returning from a trip to his native Japan, he announced to surprised coworkers that he had married. Like the rest of the team, Isono worked incredibly hard, and his Japanese wife was often left to herself in a land she did not know. Coworkers speculate that marital and professional stress prompts Isono to shut himself in the bedroom of his Fremont home, take out a pistol, and shoot himself. News of Isono's tragic suicide shocks the Newton team and destroys morale. To numb the pain, many bury themselves even more deeply in their work.

1994: Apple breaks with long-standing tradition and finally begins its licensing program, opening up the Mac platform to Bandai and Power Computing. Bandai, Japan's largest toy maker, licenses Mac technology for a multimedia player. Less than 42,000 Mac-compatible Bandai Pippin @World multimedia players would be sold in the U.S. and Japan between 1996 and 1998. Power Computing fared far better with its Mac-compatible clones. With five months it shipped the first legal Mac clone and quickly began cannibalizing Apple's high-end sales. Upon gaining control of Apple in 1997, one of Steve Jobs' first acts is to buy out Power Computing and put an end to Mac licensing.

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.

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