Published October 31st, 2004
As we continue to catch up to this week in Apple History, we offer a belated Happy Birthday to Steve "The Woz" Wozniak! It was this week in 1950 that Mr. and Mrs. Wozniak brought into the world the man who would truly bring the concept of a personal computer to ordinary folks. Happy Birthday, Woz!
And thanks for all that you did for us.
On the darker side, however, it was this week in 1981 that Apple's personal computing empire would fall under the shadow of Big Blue and its IBM Personal Computer, a boring crappy piece of electronics run by a crappy OS that Microsoft found in the nick of time to buy and put its name on, MS DOS, that boring business people licked up faster than you can say "Please sir, can I have some more?"
On the other hand, it was the challenge that the IBM PC and MS DOS offered Apple that helped to fuel the need for something creative, like the Macintosh. So, let this be a lesson to you, kiddies, that every cloud does, indeed, have a silver lining.
Speaking of the complete lack of silver linings in dark clouds, it was this week in 1991 that Apple was handed yet another defeat in its efforts to sue Microsoft (and HP) for copyright infringement involving Windows. Like so many other stories from Apple's past, the story of that legal battle is a strange one, and you can get all the details in Owen's Apple Confidential 2.0.
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.
1950: Stephan Gary Wozniak is born in San Jose, California, the heart of what would become Silicon Valley. As a young boy, Wozniak was enthusiastic about electronics, a passion encouraged by his father, an engineer at Lockheed. By the age of 21, Wozniak had built his first rudimentary computer, but it wasn't until he designed the Apple I at age 26 that his life became the stuff of legends.
1974: Steve Wozniak leaves De Anza College in Cupertino, where he had been taking general education classes after brief stints at the University of Colorado and UC Berkeley. Freed from the rigors of academic study, Wozniak devotes himself to his job in Hewlett-Packard's Advanced Products Division. He would not return to college until 1981, during a leave of absence from Apple.
1981: International Business Machines of Armonk, New York, introduces the IBM Personal Computer (US$1,565), a boxy machine with a single 5.25-inch floppy disk drive and 16K of memory. At the time, Apple's "business machine," the Apple III (US$4,190), was experiencing high failure rates and low sales. The Apple II Plus ($1,195), on the other hand, continued to sell well, with an installed base of roughly 300,000 units. Nonetheless, IBM's PC sales would eclipse those of Apple within two years.
1991: In contrast to positive initial rulings, the U.S. District Court reconsiders the originality of Apple's audiovisual display, which is at the heart of its copyright infringement case against Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. Future rulings would continue to go in Microsoft's favor, with Apple finally having to throw in the towel after spending seven years and $10 million ineffectively fighting Windows in the courts and the marketplace.
2002: Apple unveils the "mirrored doors" Power Mac G4 line featuring dual PowerPC G4 processors in every configuration. Starting at US$1,699, the dual 867MHz model ships with Mac OS X 10.2 installed on its 60GB hard drive, with 256MB of DDR SDRAM, an NVIDIA GeForce4 MX video card, and a combo DVD-ROM/CR-RW optical drive. At the same time, Apple enhances its popular eMac and iMac lines with SuperDrives and 800MHz G4 processors. Furthermore, the top-of-the-line iMac (US$1,999) now comes with a 17-inch LCD.