A brief history of Apple and Steve Jobs, including iPod, iPad, iPhone and iTunes, as well as Apple Mac and Bill Gates. How Apple developed and progressed, including early history.
Nearly everyone in the whole wide world has heard of Apple, (either computers or phones), Microsoft and the world wide web, (www) but what many do not know is that they all started out thanks to the same company - Apple.
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, was born in 1955, and was adopted.
He was a college dropout, hippy and drug user, all the qualities for becoming, at best, a “nobody” – yet he became one of the richest and most famous men in the world.
Listening to colleagues talk about him you hear such things as “he was a tyrant”, “ruthless”, “he cheated me out of money”, “he used me to gain something”, “he got work under false pretences” and “he lied to me”, and many other non-complimentary terms, yet they all continued to work for or with him.
It all appears to have started when Atari asked Jobs to develop a new “break out” game for them. Jobs in turn went to his friend Steve Wozniak and asked him to make it for half the money. When the game was finished Jobs delivered it, without mention of Steve Wozniak’s part in it, and got paid. He then pocketed a lot of the money, telling Wozniak he had given him half of it. It was not until many years later Wozniak learnt of the deception.
Wozniak and Jobs started their home business, (Apple), in California and went from working in a garage to the big multi-national we know it as today.
Steve Wozniak introduced Jobs to a group called Homebrew Computer Club, a gathering of computer enthusiasts. The group was based on the theory, if you need something that does not currently exist, you build it and you share parts and ideas with other members. Steve Wozniak had built a computer everyone wanted, and Jobs seeing the potential started selling this as Apple I. In subsequent interviews Steve Jobs talked about “when WE built it” and made it sound like a joint effort, but this was not the case.
In 1977 Apple2 was on the market, again built totally by Steve Wozniak, but marketed as, “our computer”. This was the first home computer with colour and it was popular.
Apple went public in 1980, and was a huge success.
In 1981 when IBM launched a new “personal computer”, (PC), Apple lost a lot of ground. Jobs wanted Steve Scully, who was then president of Pepsi, as the Chief Executive of Apple. He courted Scully and convinced him to join, even though this field, not only computers but also building up a new company, was a totally new one to Scully. This was ironic based on what was to come before too long.
Share prices for Apple dropped, and there was another problem for Apple, at least according to Apple. (This version seems to be neither confirmed nor denied by the other party involved). The person hired to write the software started creating waves. The software man wanted his new product to be available in two versions, one for Apple, but another for other computers, namely the PC. He felt making products for Apple only, limited the market. Jobs disagreed, and as he wanted Apple to use only Apple products, and did not want these available to other companies, a large difference of opinion followed.
The software man left, taking his new software with him. This program went on to have great success and is known as Windows – the man was Bill Gates. ( It is thought Bill gates may have been planning to launch his own company before things came to a head with Apple.)
Many of their new products did not work and this had left Apple II to carry the whole burden of the company until such time as the Mackintosh, (a type of apple – the fruit), was ready. Jobs idea for the Mac was that computers should be easy to use, and thought the new computer would be ready within a year, when in actual fact it took three years before it was able to be launched. This was the first time icons on the screen would be used for small computers.
Xerox, (the photocopying giant), was close by and Jobs had wanted to get inside their building for a long time. He finally managed when Xerox bought shares of the now public company, Apple. It was here that Jobs saw a “pointing device” that Xerox had been using for fifteen years. He also saw “icons” that they were using on the screen. Jobs saw the potential of these two devices and developed the “mouse” and icons for his computers. The brief he gave his technicians for the mouse had these principal conditions; it had to cost less than $15; it had to last two years; it had to work on a desktop or jeans.
Like most, if not of all of his products, Steve jobs did not invent - he just recognised potential in other people’s, as yet “undiscovered” inventions and applied it to his product. He also managed not to mention the originator of the idea or device.
The Mac was based on his “Zen simplicity” lifestyle choice.
Jobs’ company made and launched the Mac in 1984. It cost $2,500 to buy, and this was $1,000 more than the IBM PC. Graphic designers thought it was marvellous as it made their work quick and simple, but not many other people liked it and only half of the predicted sales were reached. Jobs belief that people would buy anything was proved wrong. It fell once again to Apple II to carry the company over rough times.
Jobs and Scully had different ideas about the company – Scully thought it was in difficulty and something needed to be done to improve the situation before it was too late, but Jobs did not see anything wrong. Having no success talking to jobs, Scully went to the board, which agreed with him, and they asked Jobs to leave. Although it was his company by going public and selling shares Jobs had relinquished control without appearing to realise he now had to answer to shareholders and a board.
Eleven years later Jobs was to complain that Scully had ruined his company. Scully had wanted to sell Macs, but Jobs wanted to change the world. For a while these two ideals had seemed compatible, but in the long term this was not true.
NeXT and w.w.w.
Jobs sold all his shares in Apple, except one, for around a cool million dollars. He then started a new computer company called NeXT. These were expensive computers that did not sell well, even though the few people who bought them said they were far superior to any others available.
Jobs envisioned a future where one computer could talk to another – enter Sir Tim Berners. Sir Tim built the world wide web on a NeXT computer and said without Jobs’ NeXT the process could have taken many, many more years to complete. Again this was not a new concept as WordStar, a word processing packet that did a host of wonderful things and had a thesaurus like no other since, already used their own system called Telmerge. This allowed users to connect their phone to the computer and to send and receive files this way.
This was not the first time the idea was brandished about either. As far back as 1970 Arthur C. Clarke foresaw the day when satellites could “bring the accumulated knowledge of the world to your fingertips using a console that would combine the functionality of the Xerox, telephone, television and a small computer, allowing data transfer and video conferencing around the globe.”
Jobs and Apple
Jobs invested in a company called Pixar who went on to make Toy Story. Disney bought Pixar, leaving Jobs as a majority stock holder in Disney and giving him a seat on the board.
Microsoft now dominated over 90% of the market, leaving Apple in serious decline.
Next had a very good operating system but was in need of money and Apple needed an operating system, so Apple bought Next for $400 million. Steve Jobs was back in Apple.
Jobs was able to remedy Apple’s problems by reviewing everything and doing away with “Newton”, a hand held device, among other things.
He then did a television advertisement which coined the phrase “think different”.
Around this time he came across a new product by British inventor Jonathan Ive. This was a transparent computer and it soon joined the Apple stable as iMac. The “i” was for internet, as this computer was quick and easy to connect to the net. The iMac was a big success and helped to lift Apple back up.
Apple’ always sold their products based on “style over substance”. Their products were never better than the opposition’s, nor were they purported to be – they were simply better marketed.
iPod, iPad, iPhone, iTunes
At this point Jobs saw the need for music and digital matter and consequently Apple made the iPod. As was the custom, they did not invent this, but did improve it.
Other mp3 players worked with any music, but iPod relied on Apple for its existence. The idea being, the more his products that needed each other, the more items Jobs would sell. Again there was no thought to the customer and how isolated they would be – a principle that had already cost him Windows and indeed Apple for a number of years. Eventually, against his aspirations, in order to get more customers - he was forced to open the iPod up to Windows users too.
Apple then opened designer look shops, and the design of the elaborate glass stairs used in one shop was patented by Jobs. He saw his shops as a “temple” and wanted them to look worthy of this notion.
Apple only sold music because the iPod needed music, and this was, yet again, a way to have it all. Some record companies spoke to Jobs about a collaboration as they did not want customers to be able to download free music as they were currently doing.
By now, Jobs was the biggest share owner in Disney and this gave him a lot of clout, which he was not afraid to use. He managed to convince all the big label record companies to sell their music on his online forum – iTunes. The deal he managed to strike must have been lucrative, and the clout he wielded substantial, as iTunes manages to pay the artists an unbelievable lower royalty than any other online music forum in the world. (An average song on an average site can pay the songwriter £0.12 per play, low paying sites pay £0.04, but iTunes generally pays £0.001, and does not offer more plays either.) Job’s philosophy of wanting “all the money from each customer” was the sole reasoning behind developing everything for Apple and not outsourcing like other companies did.
One million tracks were sold on iTunes in the first week of business, making more money for Job’s Apple.
Following iTunes came the iPad and iPhone. The iPhone became the fastest selling phone and again, although no better than other brands, what made it different was the publicity, but in the case of the iPhone there were also all the apps sold for the phone. These apps allowed Jobs to continue to get revenue from a phone he had already sold.
Apple actually sells much fewer items than other brands, this applies to all devices, computer, phone, pads and so on, but they earn so much more per sale, they only need a few sales to “out earn” any competitors.
Job’s private life remained quite private until in 2005 he announced he had prostate cancer. Following this was unsuccessful surgery, and in October 2011 he took his last bite of any Apple.