On Friday, Apple reached a major milestone in its history, celebrating 40 years since it was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
It was a long road to becoming one of the world’s biggest tech names, nearly reaching the edge of a financial collapse before Jobs returned to save the company and launch its most important products.
On Apple’s 40th birthday, we look back at the 40 biggest moments in company history:
1. April 1, 1976: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak form Apple.
While hanging out together as part of the Homebrew Computer Club, the two friends formed Apple from Jobs’ garage. “We first met during my college years, while he was in high school,” Wozniak said in a 2007 interview with ABC News. “It was 1971 when a friend said, you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks. So he introduced us.”
2. The Apple I computer is born.
Jobs and Wozniak create their first device: the Apple I computer. It sold for $666.66. Only 200 Apple I computers were built, making it a collector’s item. Last year, a model sold for $200,000.
3. The Apple II arrives one year later.
The duo’s second attempt at creating a personal computer was far more successful. The device is credited with helping to spark a revolution in personal computers for the home.
4. The Beatles vs. Apple.
The legendary band’s record label, Apple Corp, sued Apple Computer over its use of the apple logo and name. Both sides reached a settlement where Apple Computer agreed to only use its name in the tech business, while Apple Corp stuck to music. Both sides would squabble over the trademark multiple times before finally settling for good in 2006.
5. Apple goes public.
Shares of Apple began trading on Dec. 12, 1980, opening at $22 a share. On that day, Apple boasted a market cap of $1.2 billion. Today, it’s above $600 billion.
6. Wozniak takes a leave of absence.
Apple’s co-founder stepped away from the company following a plane crash in 1981 leaving him seriously injured. Wozniak briefly returned to Apple, but left for good in 1985.
7. John Sculley takes over.
Lured by Jobs, the former PepsiCo executive joined Apple as its next CEO. When he started in 1983, Apple was worth $800 million. When he left the company 10 years later, Apple was worth $8 billion. Sculley recounts the pitch Jobs presented during the PBS series The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires. “He looked up at me and just stared at me with the stare that only Steve Jobs has and he said do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world,” said Sculley. “I just gulped because I knew I would wonder for the rest of my life what I would have missed.”
8. The first Mac is unveiled.
Say farewell to typing in commands. The next line of Apple computers was arguably among the most important, introducing key concepts still in use today including a graphical user interface, where users interact with the computer through a selection of on-screen icons.
9. The 1984 ad.
Aired during Super Bowl XVIII, the TV commercial used clips of dystopian film “1984” to introduce the line of Macintosh computers.
10. Jobs leaves Apple.
The man Jobs recruited as Apple’s next CEO would ultimately push the co-founder out. John Sculley helped organize a boardroom coup in 1985, and Jobs would go on to start another computer company called NeXT.
11. Apple sues Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard.
A lawsuit filed by Apple for $5.5 billion claimed Microsoft’s newly-launched Windows operating system and HP’s New Wave copied the “look and feel” of the graphical user interface available on the Macintosh. Most of the claims were tossed by a federal judge in a ruling in April 1992.
12. The first Powerbook arrives.
Apple takes the leap into portable computing with its first laptop. The line would later be replaced by the MacBook.
13. The Newton bombs.
Way, way, way before the iPhone came the Newton, Apple’s personal digital assistant. It boasted a killer feature — handwriting recognition — that never seemed to work, and that generated plenty of ridicule.
The device was immediately shelved after the return of Jobs, or as Wired puts it in a 2013 piece: “The Newton wasn’t just killed, it was violently murdered, dragged into a closet by its hair and kicked to death in its youth by one of technology’s great men.”
14. Apple acquires NeXT.
Also known as the moment Steve Jobs returned to Apple. The co-founder’s software firm is scooped up by Apple for $400 million. Jobs was appointed an adviser, reporting to CEO Gil Amelio.
15. Jobs becomes Apple’s interim CEO.
Jobs is named to the top role at Apple on a temporary basis while the company searches for a replacement for Amelio, ousted in 1997. During a radio interview, Amelio supported Jobs’ return even after his departure, according to a 1997 CNet report. “I told him, ‘Steve, I’ll never be as charismatic as you are, and you’ll never be as good of an operating manager as I am. You can’t run a corporation…by just being cool,'” said Amelio.
16. The iMac debuts.
While still serving on an interim basis, Jobs unveils the iMac desktop computer, a model that remains a part of Apple’s lineup today. The iMacs boasting colorful displays were soon replaced by flat displays.
The reveal of the iMac was one of Jobs’ first event appearances since taking over at Apple.
17. Jobs interim no longer.
Apple’s co-founder formally takes the company’s top role, kicking off what would be one of its most successful runs in tech.
18. Apple’s first retail store opens.
The tech giant reveals in 2001 it will open 25 stores, with the first two arriving in Glendale, Calif., and McLean, Va. The stores introduced the Genius Bar, where Apple owners get support for their computers. Apple now boasts hundreds of stores in the U.S. alone.
19. Apple introduces iPod.
Oh, this portable music player was only the device pushing Apple toward an epic financial rebound. Did I mention it also changed the way we buy music? Yeah, not a big deal at all. It also produced some classic ads.
20. iTunes launches.
Wait, you don’t need to buy CDs any more to enjoy music? Awesome. It also meant CD owners had to spend hours importing collections into a digital format.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Brett Molina