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This Week in Apple History
by Owen Linzmayer
& Bryan Chaffin

March 21 - 31: Xerox Suit, Oracle Takeover & Jesse Jackson on Apple
March 22nd, 2004

For those who don't know the story of the Xerox PARC and how it influenced Apple, make sure you read Owen's outstanding Apple Confidential 2.0. It's an amazing story, and if you haven't read the book, there are probably some things you don't know. We mention this because it was this week in Apple history that Xerox's lawsuit against Apple over copyrights from the Lisa and the Mac was dismissed.

Speaking of lawsuits, it was this week in 1998 that scheister firm IMATEC attempted to sue Apple for US$1 billion over ColorSync. IMATEC claimed that ColorSync infringed on several patents owned by IMATEC. A judge thought otherwise, however, and eventually ruled that IMATEC not only didn't own the patents in question, but that ColorSync didn't infringe on them in any event.

Back to 1997, it was this week in that year that Larry Ellison began floating the idea of taking over Apple. Rumor had it that Mr. Ellison would install Steve Jobs as CEO after cleaning house in Cupertino.

It was this week in 1999 that Jesse Jackson left politics for investment activism. He did so by suggesting that Apple should have its board of directors mirror the make up of the races used in its advertising campaigns, at least when it comes to african-americans and latinos.

On to better things, it was this week in 2000 that Apple shipped Mac OS X 10.0, the first official version of Mac OS X. This release was widely believed to be the what should have been the second public beta of the OS instead of the first release, but was welcomed by many nonetheless.

There is much more in this week in Apple History:

March 21-27

1990: Four months after Xerox belatedly challenged the validity of Apple's copyrights covering the Lisa and Mac graphical user interfaces, the US District Court for Northern California dismissed all but one of Xerox's counts. Apple had drawn inspiration for the Lisa user interface from the Alto it saw on its famed November 1979 visit to Xerox PARC.

1992: Apple releases the Mac LC II (US$1,400), a low-end "pizza box" model with a 16 MHz 68030 CPU.

1996: Apple warns Wall Street of "an anticipated second fiscal quarter net after-tax loss of around US$700 million," the biggest quarterly loss ever (at the time) for a company based in Silicon Valley. When the final numbers were released the following month, Apple reported a US$740 million net loss, leaving the company with less than five weeks' operating cash.

1997: CEO Gil Amelio meets with Apple's board of directors and begs for an increase in advertising spending to prop up Mac sales, which were down drastically and showed no immediate signs of recovery. The board refuses Amelio's request.

Oracle CEO, and longtime friend of Steve Jobs, begins floating the idea that he is interested in taking over the company. The most specific of these plans includes a US$1 billion takeover that would involve the sacking of Apple's entire board of directors and executive team.

Apple ships the MessagePad 2000 (US$949) and eMate 300 (US$700). The new MessagePad was amazingly fast, thanks to its 160MHz StrongARM processor, and the eMate looked like a cross between the Newton and a PowerBook. The two new models reinvigorated Newton sales.

1998: Apple is sued for US$1 billion by IMATEC. The patent collecting firm alleges that Apple's ColorSync infringes on patents owned by IMATEC. The suit is eventually dismissed for its lack of merit.

After being Apple's interim CEO (iCEO) since the ouster of former CEO Gil Amelio, rumors begin to circulate that Steve Jobs was being asked by Apple's board of directors to stay on. Talk of a lucrative offer sent Apple's stock higher by 7%.

1999: Jesse Jackson attacks Apple for using images of such people as Ceasar Chavez and Miles Davis in its Think Different campaign while not having any black or latino members on its Board of Directors.

2001: Apple ships the first true consumer release of Mac OS X, version 10.0.0, which features memory protection, preemptive multi-tasking, symmetric multiprocessing, Quartz 2D graphics, OpenGL 3D graphics, Aqua interface, Dock, QuickTime 5, and iTools.

2002: Just four months after the introduction of the 5GB iPod (US$399), Apple doubles the capacity of the wildly popular MP3 player with the release of a 10GB model (US$499) capable of holding approximately 2,000 songs.

2004: Apple ships the Xserve G5, the first of its rack-mount servers to use IBM's G5 processor. The same day, Apple also announced the Apple Workgroup Cluster for Bioinformatics, a cluster aimed at the biotech market.

Apple also surprises analysts and customers alike by bumping the price of the iMac by US$100.

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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This Week in Apple History Archives

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