The Apple cart

A timeline of the 42-year-old tech startup that went from near-bankruptcy to $1 trillion in market cap this month

By Mathures Paul
  • Published 19.08.18
Steve Jobs and Tim Cook following an Apple product presentation in 2007

The original Apple Computer (Apple I) is designed and built by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Apple II, a much more commercial product, has an MOS technology processor running at just 1MHz with 4KB of RAM.

December 12, 1980:
Apple lists on the stock market, selling 4.6 million shares for $22 a piece. Some 40 Apple employees become instant millionaires, starting with Steve Jobs, who is suddenly worth $217 million.

The Apple Lisa arrives. Named after Jobs’s first daughter, it has an integrated screen, a user interface and Apple’s first mouse. But at $10,000, it never becomes a commercial success.

The Apple IIc is introduced, a “portable” computer with no battery! Also released is the first Macintosh computer, which is affordable and features a graphical user interface.

And another milestone: One of the best advertisements ever belongs to Apple. Screened nationally during Super Bowl, the Ridley Scott-directed ad has an athlete (Anya Major) run towards a screen carrying a large hammer, pursued by goons in riot police gear. She stops, whirls the hammer a few times and launches it at the screen, exploding it. “... You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like Nineteen Eighty-Four,” announces a voice-over.

Frustrated by Apple’s shifting priorities, co-founder Steve Wozniak leaves the company. The man was happier when Apple was a small company.

Apple’s board sides with CEO John Sculley and former head of Pepsi who Steve Jobs had brought in two years earlier. Jobs leaves and forms NeXT to make his own computers for some years.

The company’s first laptop arrives, the PowerBook 100 series, designed and manufactured by Sony for Apple.

Apple attempts to make a pocket computer with the Newton MessagePad, which could recognise “real handwriting”.

Apple brings back its ousted founder as “informal adviser” to then-CEO Gil Amelio and the company purchases Jobs’s startup, NeXT. Months later, Amelio is ousted and Jobs is named interim CEO.

Microsoft rescues its rival with a $150 million investment. “Bill, thank you. The world’s a better place,” Jobs tells Bill Gates after the investment.

The iMac — Steve Jobs and desginer Jony Ive’s baby in “Bondi Blue” colour — is the computer that makes Apple a household name. It ditches the traditional floppy disk drive, introduces USB connectivity and aims at the Internet-enabled market with a 56kbit/s modem. Next year, it arrived in translucent hues.

The iPod music player heralds a digital music revolution, even though it isn’t the first portable MP3 player. Controlled using a mechanical wheel for scrolling, the device becomes a style statement.

That same year, Jobs announces Unix-based operating system, Mac OS X, which delivers a new “Aqua” user interface, besides offering backward compatibility for the earlier Mac OS 9.

The iBook and PowerBook are out, replaced by the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. And these come with an Intel processor. The MacBook soon becomes the single bestselling laptop of any brand in the US for half of 2008, according to research firm NPD Group.

Following the success of the iPod, the iPhone takes Apple into a new age. The handset comes with a touchscreen interface. A year later, the company opens the App Store, allowing users to expand their iPhone’s capabilities by downloading third-party apps.

After the success of the iPhone, the iPad reinvents tablet computers. The 9.7-inch touchscreen device comes with the same intuitive operating system as the iPhone.

After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Steve Jobs dies at the age of 56. Tim Cook takes over as Jobs stood down six weeks before he died.

Apple snaps up Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s Beats, which made headphones and ran a music service, for $3bn.

The Apple Watch arrives and beats rivals.

The iPhone X arrives with edge-to-edge screen design, Face ID and no home button or headphone jack. Also, it makes the Notch popular.

August 2, 2018:
Apple becomes the first US company with a market cap of over $1 trillion. (PetroChina had briefly crossed the trillion mark in 2007.)