Apple Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Apple has been one of the driving forces in innovation in the personal computer and consumer electronics industries. Even at times when the company was considered a niche player in personal computing, features that it pioneered often made their way into products marketed by its more successful competitors. In the twenty-first century, with its iPod MP3 player, the company expanded from computing to marketing “digital lifestyle” devices, and it grew to become the world’s largest online purveyor of digital music files.

Apple (originally Apple Computer) was founded by Steve Wozniak, SteveWozniak and Steve Jobs, SteveJobs, who had close ties to the 1960’s counterculture, and the corporate culture of Apple reflected that mind-set. The Apple motto, Think Different, was not only a counterpoint to Think, the decades-old motto of International Business Machines (IBM), but also a paean to counterculture nonconformity. When Jobs first sought outside investors, he had no idea how to compose a business plan. He had to learn how to relate to corporate executives and produce formal business documents to acquire capital.Apple (company)

Apple quickly established its reputation for innovation. The Apple II personal Computer industrycomputer had floppy disk drives at a time when other personal computers still depended on magnetic tape drives for data and software storage. As a result, Apple II users were able to load and operate complex programs such as VisiCalc, the original spreadsheet application and the original “killer app” (that is, a software application that by itself justifies the purchase of the hardware on which it runs). In 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh, which boasted the first graphical user interface (GUI) on a consumer computer. Users were no longer required to memorize arcane codes for data paths and commands. Instead, a visual representation of a desktop containing folders and files allowed for more intuitive manipulation of applications and data.

Steve Jobs, chair of the board of Apple Computers, holds up an Apple II computer in 1984.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

By the middle of the 1990’s, Apple was in serious trouble. Its product line had become confused, and its market share was shrinking. There were even speculations that the company could fail. In a bold stroke, the board of directors brought back ousted cofounder Jobs to become interim chief executive officer (CEO) in 1997. Jobs immediately cleaned house, simplifying Apple’s product line and concentrating on creating innovative, elegant products. His first offering was the iMac, an all-in-one computer that harked back to the original Macintosh while replacing several key interfaces with the new universal serial bus (USB). USB soon became a standard across the industry. Jobs followed that coup with the iBook, a colorful laptop also aimed at the consumer market.

Once Apple was back on a solid financial footing, Jobs began investigating the possibility of marketing a digital music player. The result was the iPod, which was introduced in October of 2001. To go with it, Apple also introduced the iTunes Music Store, an online store that allowed people to purchase and download music files to play on their iPods over the Internet;music downloadsInternet. The iPod and iTunes Music Store were runaway successes that quickly positioned Apple as a major player in the digital music business and redefined the core mission of the company. In January of 2007, acknowledging the importance of “digital lifestyle” devices such as the iPod, iPhone, and AppleTV to its business model, Apple Computer renamed itself Apple, Inc.

Further Reading
  • Levy, Steven. The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.
  • Malone, Michael S. Infinite Loop: How Apple, the World’s Most Insanely Great Computer Company, Went Insane. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
  • Young, Jeffrey S., and William L. Simon. iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

Computer industry

Digital recording technology

Bill Gates

International Business Machines

Music industry

Online marketing

Video rental industry

Categories: History