Profile: Apple Inc

Apple Inc (Formally known as Apple Computer, Inc)

jobswoz.jpgApple was founded on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne (and later incorporated January 3, 1977 without Wayne, who sold his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak) to sell the Apple I personal computer kit. They were hand-built by Steve Wozniak in the living room of Jobs’ parents’ home, and the Apple I was first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. Eventually 200 computers were built.

The Apple I was sold as a motherboard (with CPU, RAM, and basic textual-video chips) — not what is today considered a complete personal computer. The user was required to provide two different AC input voltages (the manual recommended specific transformers), wire an ASCII keyboard (not provided with the computer) to a DIP connector (providing logic inverter and alpha lock chips in some cases), and to wire the video output pins to a monitor or to an RF modulator if a TV set was used.

Jobs approached a local computer store, The Byte Shop, which ordered fifty units and paid US$500 for each unit after much persuasion from Jobs. He then ordered components from Cramer Electronics, a national electronic parts distributor. Using a variety of methods, including borrowing space from friends and family and selling various items including a Volkswagen Type 2 bus, Jobs managed to secure the parts needed while Wozniak and Ronald Wayne assembled the Apple I.

The Apple I, Apple's first product. Sold as an assembled circuit board, it lacked basic features such as a keyboard, monitor, and case. The owner of this unit added a keyboard and a wooden case.
The Apple I,
Apple’s first product. Sold as an assembled circuit board, it lacked
basic features such as a keyboard, monitor, and case. The owner of this
unit added a keyboard and a wooden case.

 

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The Apple II was introduced on April 16, 1977 at the first West Coast Computer Faire. Despite a price higher than competitors, it quickly pulled away from its two main rivals, the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, to become the market leader (and the symbol of the personal computing phenomenon) in the late 70s due to its color graphics, high build quality, and open architecture. While early models used ordinary cassette tapes as storage devices, this was quickly superseded by the introduction of a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive and interface, the Disk II.

Another key to business for Apple was software. The Apple II was chosen by programmers Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston to be the desktop platform for the first "killer app" of the business world—the VisiCalc spreadsheet program.  VisiCalc created a business market for the Apple II, and the corporate market attracted many more software and hardware developers to the machine, as well as giving home users an additional reason to buy one—compatibility with the office. (See the timeline for dates of Apple II family model releases—the 1977 Apple II and its younger siblings the II+, IIe, IIc, and IIGS.)

According to Brian Bagnall’s book, "On the Edge" (pg. 109-112), Apple exaggerated their sales figures and that Apple was a distant 3rd place until VisiCalc came along. VisiCalc was first released on Apple II because Commodore and Tandy computers were tied up in VisiCalc’s software development office due to their popularity. VisiCalc’s association with Apple was thus pure happenstance, not a technical decision. And even after VisiCalc, Apple II didn’t surpass the Tandy TRS-80, whose sales were helped by the large number of Radio Shack stores. However, VisiCalc did put Apple ahead of Commodore’s PET, at least in the US. (Commodore later regained the lead for a while with the Commodore 64 in the mid 80s, the best selling specific model of computer to date.)

By the end of the 1970s, Jobs and his partners had a staff of computer designers and a production line. The Apple II was succeeded by the Apple III in May 1980 as the company struggled to compete against IBM and Microsoft in the lucrative business and corporate computing market. The designers of the Apple III were forced to comply with Jobs’ request to omit the cooling fan, and this ultimately resulted in thousands of recalled units due to overheating.[18] An updated version, the Apple III+, was introduced in 1983, but it was also a failure due to bad press and wary buyers.

In the early 1980s, IBM and Microsoft continued to gain market share at Apple’s expense in the personal computer industry. A fundamentally different business model evolved, once cloners forced-open the IBM PC hardware standard against IBM’s will. The IBM compatible hardware market became highly competitive, with clones running a bundled Microsoft MS-DOS OS, or running a competing IBM-style DOS such as DR DOS.

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Apple’s sustained growth during the early 1980s was partly due to its leadership in the education sector, attributed to their adaptation of the programming language LOGO, used in many schools with the Apple II. The drive into education was accentuated in California with the donation of one Apple II and one Apple LOGO software package to each public school in the state. The deal concluded between Steve Jobs and Jim Baroux of LCSI, and having required the support of Sacramento, established a strong and pervasive presence for Apple in all schools throughout California. The initial conquest of education environments was critical to Apple’s acceptance in the home where the earliest purchases of computers by parents was in support of children’s continued learning experience.

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