42 years later, Apple continues to set the benchmark for product excellence

Apple reshaped a lot of industries with innovative products like the iPod and iPhone and continues to do so even today.

  • Published: April 2, 2018 4:20 PM IST

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, three young entrepreneurs started their first startup to sell the Apple I personal computer designed by Woz on this day, exactly 42 years ago. What happened next is history. Apple‘s story is the one perfect to be reproduced as a movie or even a Netflix series (yes, pun intended). The company went from a startup to nearly bankrupt to being the world’s most highly valued company but its humble beginnings still embody the spirit of Silicon Valley.

The birth of Apple

Like many other startup, Jobs started the company in the garage of his childhood home along with Woz and Wayne. Woz was the tech wizard among them and he single handedly designed and built the Apple I. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 and Apple Computer Inc was incorporated on January 3, 1977. It is still an irony to read the story of Wayne being unhappy with the performance of Apple Computer Inc and eventually selling his shares to Woz and Jobs for $800 only a couple of weeks later. He never saw that he is going to end up losing several billions in value only a few years later.

The Apple II

The company introduced Apple II, an updated version of its first personal computer, on April 16, 1977. As Woz built his Apple I and Apple II computers with great attention to detail, the company saw a fairy tale ride from 1977 to 1980 with exponential growth in revenue thanks to initial financial aid by millionaire Mike Markkula. After a tour of Xerox PARC, Steve Jobs was convinced that all future computers will use graphical user interface and Apple engineers started working on a GUI for Apple Lisa and listed itself at $22 per share on December 12, 1980.

The biggest success came in the form of Macintosh launch on 1984 alongside a $1.5 million ad directed by Ridley Scott that aired during the Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984. The Macintosh was the first personal computer to be sold without a programming language. The company went on a downhill direction after Macintosh launch with Apple board of directors siding with CEO John Sculley to contain Steve Jobs’ rhetoric for aggressive goals. Jobs eventually resigned from Apple and founded NeXT Inc with former Apple engineers in 1985.

Over the next 12 years, Apple iterated on some of its existing products and steadily shifted its focus to premium price segment. But it was also the period when Windows became extremely popular and IBM came to dominate the PC market. The company found an unbelievable solution of acquiring NeXT and bringing back Jobs to the helm in 1997. Steve Jobs is the only tech CEO who co-founded a company, was removed from it and later returned to bring it back to its glory days.

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Jobs’ return in 1997 saw him hire Jonathan Ive as the lead product designer and announce partnership with Microsoft to bring Office productivity tools to the Mac. While he initially worked to fix the gaps with Macintosh, the focus was to go beyond Mac with introduction of new devices like iPod and iPhone over the next decade.

Steve Jobs reshaped a lot of industries with innovative Apple products like the iPod and iPhone. The company today rakes in more than 50 percent of the profit from sales of smartphones. Jobs has been internally describes as stickler for seamless design and easy to use interface. The products made by the company, even today, are respected for their build, superior software and focus on user privacy.

Apple is currently headed by Tim Cook, who took over after the tragic death of Jobs in 2011. According to Nasdaq, Apple currently has a market cap of around $851 billion and is poised to become the first company with a trillion dollar in market capitalization. The company has consistently defeated the odds of being overshadowed by its peers with new products and an experience that stays compelling to say the least.

Apple’s history is all about Steve Jobs playing the role of a dominant CEO who focused extensively on product timelines and superior experience. However, one cannot deny the company’s ethos are built on the very first Apple I which Wozniak built single handedly. He is the unsung hero of a company that shaped computing for the world and continues to shape the way we communicate in this modern world.

Lead image courtesy Pixabay

  • Published Date: April 2, 2018 4:20 PM IST