Apple Celebrates 46th Anniversary, A Brief Look at the Company’s Humble Beginnings

Apple 46th Anniversary

Today marks the 46th anniversary of Apple Computers. In 1976, college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak banded together with a vision of how people view and utilize computers.

A Brief History of Apple Computers

In the early years of the company, Jobs and Wozniak built the Apple I in Jobs’ garage. The two sold the device without a monitor, keyboard or casing. From there, the Apple II revolutionized the computer industry by introducing color graphics.

The company would officially be founded by Jobs, Wozniak, and a third man, Ron Wayne. An engineer for Atari, Wayne would be the one who designed the famous Apple logo. Wayne is also famous for leaving the company twelve days after it was founded. Jobs bought him out of the company for $800. Wayne has gone on record saying he has no regrets. He would receive more compensation when Mark Markkula bought out all three original owners for a total of $5,308.96.

Wozniak would eventually leave the company in 1983. John Sculley was then brought in by Jobs to fill the role of president. However, this decision would cause controversy, with Jobs leaving the company in 1985. Jobs would then go on to purchase Pixar from George Lucas, famous for movies such as the Toy Story series.

Even without Wozniak and Jobs, Apple found success during the 1980’s. By 1990, the company posted its highest profits. However, many would argue that this is largely in thanks to plans Jobs set into motion before leaving, the largest decision being partnering with a company relatively unknown at the time, Adobe. This partnership brought forth the Adobe Portable Document Format, or PDF. Working together, Apple and Adobe successfully created desktop publishing.

The Decline

While the 1980’s found the company successful, things were looking grim by the mid-nineties. By 1996, financial experts agreed that the company was circling the drain. Desperate, Apple sought out Jobs’ newest company, NeXt Software, and Apple’s board of directors asked the former owner for help.

Jobs came back to the company, self describing himself as an iCEO, or interim CEO. Jobs officially became the CEO for Apple in 2000. One of his first decisions upon returning to the company was to forge an alliance with Microsoft, brokering a deal for the company to release its series of office software to Apple.

It did not take long for Jobs to make a monumental impact on the company. Not long after the Microsoft decision, Jobs revamped the company’s line of computers, and introduced the iBook. Jobs also introduced a little device that many may remember: the iPod. It was this tiny music player that helped launch the company into what it is today.

The Anniversary of Apple: Celebrating History

The world lost Steve Jobs October 5, 2011. While the world may have lost a legend in the tech industry, the company he helped build out of his garage is today one of the most successful, if not the most successful, in the entire world.

It is highly unlike that Apple will slow down anytime soon. With Tim Cook as the new CEO, Apple made history again in 2018 when they became the first company to be valued at one trillion dollars. It would only take another two years to double that figure.

The influence Apple has had on the tech world is everlasting. While Apple may be celebrating its anniversary, the company continues to grow. What’s in store will no doubt mark another page in Apple’s history.

In short, happy birthday, Apple!

7 thoughts on “Apple Celebrates 46th Anniversary, A Brief Look at the Company’s Humble Beginnings

      1. I was in the Navy when the Apple II was announced, I was interested, but couldn’t afford one. One shore duty at the time, Submarine Base Bangor Washington, our administrative staff got word processing and I thought those were pretty neat. 

        I went back to sea on a 1963 vintage frigate that was just a few notches above a WWII ship, the computers for gunfire, dead reckoning, and such were electro-mechanical. I served 6 years on that ship, no GPS mind you, I did most of the navigation with a sextant except when close to shore and I could use radar. We had a LORAN receiver which used radio signals and it was pretty accurate, but it was pretty much confined to the off shore West Coast, Hawaiian Islands, and Alaska/Aleutians. We also had an Omega receiver which was similar to LORAN and was supposed be worldwide, but it was a problematic and I didn’t use it. 

        My next duty was at Fleet Training Group. We inspected the performance of ship crews and brought them up to snuff if needed. The paper forms we used where clumsy, not laid well, lines out of order and such. Updating them was a time consuming task of writing them, giving them to admin who would type them up when they got around to it, I would make corrections send it back and so on. In the building was a computer terminal to a main frame at the ship repair facility, it was mostly unused. There was a Warrant Officer in charge of it and I asked him if I could word process on it. He said sort of, there was no word processing program.

        I started using that terminal to design my forms. Used underscore and vertical line/pipe to make check boxes. The guys that worked for me love them; “Can you move this line up to here?” Other departments started do the same and getting time on the terminal was tough. I decided it was time to get my own personal computer. I tried a number of the brands and like the Apple IIe with AppleWorks, but that was a bit pricey for my budget. I could afford and Apple IIc so that is what I bought, for more money than a current iMac with a big screen.

        That unleashed a monster. I kept records in the AppleWorks data base, typed up reports in the word processor and so on. I got involved in the local Apple User Group, we beta tested for Beagle Bros.

        Fleet Training Group was neutral duty, neither considered sea or shore as I could spend half the month or more on ships, so my next assignment was to the 3rd Fleet Staff. I “wore a number of hats”, but primarily I managed the Fleet’s inspector general program. 

        I still used my Apple IIc for this work. The building had a main frame and those geeks did not like my Apple IIc. They were starting to introduce MSDOS PCs to the staff, but hardly anyone used them as there was no training on them. The civilian woman who sat at the desk next to mine managed assigning sailors to the “Fleet Schools” 1 day to month long classes for a number of things such as firefighting, new welding machines, or whatever. She used 5×8 cards for this, but she had a PC sitting idle. I took that and Lotus 123 and set her up with each cell representing a seat in a class, pop-up notes contained details about the student. She loved that, she could see at a glance how many empty seats there were for a particular class when someone called in wanting to attend. That and the other computer work I did got me a Navy Achievement Medal signed by the Secretary of the Navy.

        I was getting close to retirement and one day I saw on Beagle Bros bulletin board I saw that they advertised for a tech support person. I was a wiz with AppleWorks and TimeOut so I applied and was accepted. The agreed to wait until I was out of the Navy so I put in for my retirement. A week or so later I get a call from my Detailer in Washington, the person who assigns you to a job, he said if that I wanted to change my mind then he would give me hovercraft; that was tempting, but I had a teenager who need a father at home.

        I very much enjoyed working at Beagle Bros. At a computer show I met Mitch Kapor and told him how I used his Lotus 123. He thanked me for my service and the innovative use of the program. Beagle Bros closed and I had a midlife crisis becoming a Holistic Health Practitioner. I did that for a few years and then free lanced as a graphic artist until I retired for good. These days I cook gourmet foods at home and reread the classic books of literature.

      2. I think one of the great strengths of the US military is the ability of individuals to solve problems from the bottom up, like you did.

      3. Lee:

        Great story! Many thanks for sharing. 

        In medical school, computers were just coming into their own for education. I was always mindful of my budget (until I met this woman…there’s no telling where the money went…but now we’re married with grown children, so…worth it), so made myself proficient on all the computers in the computer lab, rather than purchase my own. 

        What I noticed even then is that the Macintoshes (Stanford had a suite of them) were just more fun to use and versatile. Even the biostatistics professor made homework assignments specifically for the Mac. Because they were always in use, I became one of the few students to become proficient in DOS so that I could use the IBMs rather than wait for a Mac. There is nothing more painful than using Lotus in DOS. I’d rather be water-boarded. 

        Through medical school and my first residency training, mainly in order to do my rotations at the NIH and CDC, I had to use PCs. And though it seemed an eternity wandering in the PC wilderness, in less than a decade from my debut with computers, thanks to improved compatibility, I’d own my first Mac, which is what I’d always wanted, and never look back. 

        It’s simply a joy to work and play in the Apple ecosystem. 

      4. Such an awesome story, Lee! Thanks for sharing it. I came to the Mac much, much later, in 2007. Prior to that, I’d been mainly a Windows user with brief side trips to AIX, OS/2, and Linux.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.