The History Of Apple: 40 Years Of Innovation That Changed The World

Do you want to know about the history of Apple?

speech bubble saying think about this moment

Think about this

for a moment:

One trillion dollars.

That's how much Apple was worth at the end of 2018.

You can call me an "iSheep" all you want (although I much prefer "fanboi") but there's no escaping the fact that Apple is the most successful company since...well since there have been companies.

so yes speech bubble

So, yes:

I'm an Apple fan.

The brand is centered around a very subtle yet fascinating design philosophy.

Steve Jobs and designer Jonny Ive gave the company six rules of design that have worked exceptionally well for them.

The 6 Rules fo​r Apple


 Consumer empathy





Since the first iPod hit the stage back in 2001, Apple has incorporated these design elements into every product.

speech bubble saying but theres bad news

But there's

bad news:

Lately, it seems that Apple has hit a rocky patch.

In the history of Apple, not since the departure of Steve Jobs in 1985 has Apple share price tanked so hard.

Many consumers feel Apple isn't innovating anymore. They're simply squeezing their loyal fan base for more profits.

One thing is clear:

People aren't buying Apple products as they used to for most of the history of Apple.

basic speech bubble

But get this:

The history of Apple has more than 40 years of legacy wrapped up in a brand that is both monumental and extremely personal at the same time.

They've had rocky times in the past.

Let's rewind.

The History Of Apple: The Early Days

Picture this:

It's the year 1971. 16-year-old Steve Jobs is walking around his Palo Alto neighborhood with his buddy, Bill Fernandez.

It's a pleasant evening in late spring.

Bill spots another one of his friends, Steve Wozniak, washing his dad's car in his driveway. He and Jobs go over to chat.

giphy boom

The history of Apple begins.

The meeting of Jobs and Woz changed the world, although that evening it probably didn't seem that exciting.

Five years later, after dropping out of Reed College, the two found Apple Computers in Jobs' mother's garage.

two guys illustrated

Have you ever wondered why they founded Apple in the first place?

Why not just go and lead normal lives?

speech bubble saying get this

Get this.

steve jobs

Steve Jobs

Apple Founder

Steve Jobs was broke. 

But he really wanted a computer.

It was 1976 and computers were a fringe technology, which made them extremely expensive.

So he and Woz built their own. They even designed their own programming language!

the apple a was born

The Apple

I was born.

The First Home Computer

Naturally, Jobs loved his new computer.

He instantly recognized that they had something new.

Something different.

You see:

Until then, a home computer was a giant DIY contraption for tech enthusiasts (AKA nerds).

The most popular was a massive machine called the Altair 8800.

Check this out, though"

You had to assemble it yourself. Then you had to hook it up to a special display.

Finally, you had to learn basic binary coding just to use it.

With the Apple I, Jobs and Woz simplified the personal computer, making it small and portable. This is one of those defining moments in the history of Apple.

The two young visionaries were ecstatic and instantly recognized the potential.

They set out to found a company, bringing along a friend Jobs met while working at Atari, Ron Wayne, as a third partner and sole investor.

1976: The Apple I

What if you had an amazing business idea but no money to start it?

The history of Apple brings us to one of those moments.

As it turns out:

Steve Jobs was so convinced of the Apple I's potential that he sold his beat-up Volkswagon to fund it.

It was an eight-bit computer, but unlike the Altair, the circuit board was fully assembled.

Also, it could connect to a simple television set, and a keyboard easily plugged in.

Steve Jobs was the marketing mind of the young company, and he came up with the name "Apple."

get this speech bubble

Get this:

Jobs spend his weekends working at an apple orchard for extra cash.

He found the fruit simple, friendly, approachable, and beautiful.

The three founders agreed on the name, and it was Wayne who designed the logo. Thus marks another key moment in the history of Apple.

apple logo

With a new LLC and a working product, Apple Computers began selling to the public.

1977: The Apple II

Seriously, how do you go from the Apple I, which looks prehistoric, to the Apple II, which definitely looks more modern?

After selling around 200 units of the Apple I, Jobs was struck with an idea.

heres what he believed speech bubble

Here's what

 he believed:

Every home should have a computer.

Instead of a DIY kit for enthusiasts, Jobs envisioned the computer as something like the television.

It would be an appliance. He recognized it as the future.

So Wozniak created a new computer and stuck it inside a plastic frame.

A monitor, keyboard, and even disk drives were included.

It was the first personal computer and was an instant success. The Apple II is one of the most iconic products in the history of Apple.

Apple II



OS: Apple DOS 3.1

Not only did the Apple II appeal to regular consumers, but with the introduction of Visicalc software (the world's first spreadsheet), the Apple II suddenly appealed to businesses and schools.

1983: The Apple Lisa

Check this out:

After their smashing success with the Apple II, Apple Computers moved into their own headquarters and hired staff.

By now, they were a real company complete with a Board of Directors.

So in 1980, they began developing different computer systems, including the LISA (Local Integrated Software Architecture).

The Board wanted Apple to concentrate on the lucrative enterprise market.

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Companies we

re buying up


like mad.

But Jobs didn't like this. He was still convinced of his vision of a computer in every home.


The Board removed jobs from the Lisa project, basically firing him from his own company without really firing him.

but get this speech bubble

But get this:

He just went and formed his own division with Apple and began work on his own vision of a computer.

Meanwhile, the Lisa released in 1983 and bombed.

Hardly anybody bought it.

Apple shares tanked.

1984: The MacIntosh

By now, you know what's coming.

Jobs and Woz, working hard on their side project, shocked their own Board of Directors and the world when Jobs unveiled the Apple MacIntosh in 1984.

Not only was this a powerful 512 KB computer, but it was also the first consumer computer with a graphical user interface (GUI).

Think Windows.

Except they called it Mac OS.

There was also a connected mouse!

wham speech buble


Instant hit! Apple's shares soared and the stingy Board of Directors were put in their place.

The first-ever Mac popularized Apple Computers with the average consumer, just as Jobs dreamed for eight years.

To help make it a reality, Jobs worked with director Ridley Scott to create Mac's famous 1984 Superbowl commercial.

You know the one.

Apple Without Steve Jobs

Did you know that in the mid-'80s Steve Jobs quit his own company?

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That's right!

You see, while he had founded the company, by 1984 he was still only in his 20s.

The Board of Directors considered him too young and inexperienced to run a company that was obviously becoming a major disrupter.

So they hired John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi, to be CEO of Apple.

Actually, it was Jobs himself who lured Sculley away from Pepsi, asking him "Do you want to sell sugar-water for the rest of your life?"

steve jobs and john sculley

Sculley, a great manager, and excellent financial organizer had a different vision for Apple than Jobs.

Jobs And Sculley Clash

Jobs wanted a Mac in every home. He didn't want it to be too expensive for the average working family, so he pushed for a $1,000 price tag.

speech bubble saying not everyone felt the same way

Not everyone

 felt the same way:

Sculley pushed back, and the Mac released for $1900.

But then Sculley raised the price another $500 when it sold like hot cakes.

Also, Jobs and Sculley clashed on management styles.

Sculley was a professional and he dealt with employees in a respectful manner.


Jobs was anything but respectful.

He had a temper that would explode. He would swear and yell and reduce top talent to tears.

Steve Jobs could inspire people like no other. Hundreds of employees ate up his vision of the future of computing.

But if any crossed him, made a simple mistake, or even failed to grasp one of his thousands of ideas, they got an earful.

speech bubble saying by now you realize something

By now you

realize something:

Steve Jobs was a jerk.

giphy its true

In a final showdown between Sculley and Jobs, the Board of Directors decided to keep Sculley and shuffle Jobs to a desk somewhere out of the way, where he wouldn't have anything to do with running the company or managing employees.

So Jobs quit.

1985-1997: Apple's failing brand

Do you want to know what happened to Steve Jobs next?

News flash:

He did okay for himself.

Steve Jobs founded NeXT Computers and then founded PIXAR animation studios. He even oversaw the making of the first Toy Story movie!

But this isn't a story about Steve Jobs.

This is about Apple.

And unfortunately, between 1985 and 1997, Apple stumbled from one disaster to another.


When Jobs was ousted from Apple, Wall Street celebrated.

You see, serious investors felt he was too reckless.

They saw enterprise computing as the real money-maker.

So that's where they took Apple.

The Gassee Era

jean louis gassee

Jean-Louis Gassee

Apple Co-Founder

First, they hired Jean-Louis Gassee to replace Steve Jobs as head of Product Development. Under Gassee, Apple released the Macintosh II, a high-end computer for professionals which included a color screen.

The Mac II sold for over $5,400, equivalent to more than $12,000 in today's currency.

Bad news.

Sales plummeted.

Gassee pushed forward, however. First, he decreed "55 or die."

By this, he meant Apple should make a 55-percent profit on the sale of every machine.

Stock prices fell from $200 a share to $98 a share. Sculley ended up splitting the stock two-to-one, further devaluing it.

1986-1991: The Mac family

apple iigs woz edition

Under Gassee, Apple frantically tried to recreate the successes of the Apple II and the Macintosh.

First, came the Apple IIgs, which was a hybrid between the Mac and the Apple II. It flopped.

Then came the Mac Plus, the Mac SE, and the Mac Classic in 1990.

None of them caught on and Apple's future looked bleak.

In 1991, Gassee was asked to leave, which he accepted.

1991-1997: Apple nearly goes bankrupt

The reason Apple spent five years failing was that they concentrated on the enterprise market.

IBM and Microsoft had that market cornered.

But Microsoft was making inroads into the consumer market, as well.

Cheap computers and a friendly Microsoft Windows program made them popular.


Apple was floundering with no vision and no core customer base.

They experienced a bit of a bump by teaming up with IBM and Motorola to put the Power-PC chipset.

Also, the Apple Quadra and Performa computers saw a bit of a sizzle, but it wasn't enough.

Apple shares plummet

apple shares chart

In 1993 the Board of Directors fired John Sculley as CEO and hired Gil Amelio.

He lasted less than four years.

By the end of 1996, Apple's stock was trading at $0.56 per share.

The company was a few months away from bankruptcy.

The History Of Apple: The Steve Jobs Era

iphone shown by steve jobs

Imagine what it would be like had Apple gone bankrupt?

Today's world wouldn't have the iPhone, the iPad, or the hordes of creatives pounding away on their MacBooks.

Sure, there would probably be Android, and Windows PC, but what would be different?

The tablet wouldn't exist. Nobody else has figured it out, even a decade after its release.

speech bubble saying but you know what else

But you know

what else?

The music industry would be different.

I'm talking radically different than the one we have today. The history of Apple changed it all.

speech bubble saying lets back it up a moment

Let's back

it up a moment.

You see, in 1990 a brilliant man named Tim Be​​rners Lee invented the World Wide Web using the NeXTStep computer platform at CERN.

Apple was impressed and ended up buying NeXT Computers in 1996 with what money they had left.

Do you remember who owned NeXT Computers?

That's right!

Steve Jobs!

Steve Jobs returns to Apple

steve jobs

They brought Jobs back into the Apple fold with the acquisition, and he immediately argued that CEO Gil Amelio had to go.

This time the Board agreed, and fired Amelio, replacing him with Jobs as the new CEO in 1997.

Good news!

Jobs immediately restructured the company.

Gone were all but two divisions. Gone were enterprise-only projects which didn't make money. In the history of Apple, this was its most important moment.

Best of all, he gave Apple a new vision. A new philosophy. And a new partnership with longtime rival Microsoft.

Steve Jobs met with Bill Gates and the two hammered out a deal in one sitting.

Microsoft invested $150 million into Apple in return for future Apple computers shipping with Microsoft Office installed.


But wait, there's more.

Next, Steve Jobs had the design team focus on one new product. Something that would revolutionize not only the company but the world.

In 1998, Steve introduced the iMac.

1998-1999: The iMac G3

What makes the iMac G3 so special in the history of Apple?

Well, aside from being the only desktop computer with funky, modern looks (for 1998), it sold like hot cakes and saved Apple.

The iMac was Steve Jobs' vision, which he had nurtured for over 20 years, finally brought to life.

A sleek, friendly, powerful, personal computer for the average consumer.

But you know what else?

The iMac G3 shipped with a pair of USB ports.

Unheard of for a computer. The technocrat crowd lost their minds and criticized the iMac up and down.

But consumers loved it. It garnered nearly 100,000 pre-orders following Jobs' televised unveiling.

Apple shares soared to over $40, the highest they'd been in years.

imac g3

As Steve explained it, the iMac wasn't so much a computer as a new way to interact with the internet. Welcome to another turning point in the history of Apple.

iMac G3 specifications 1999

Processor: 266 Mhz G3

Graphics: ATI Rage Pro with 6 MB RAM

RAM: 32 MB

Hard drive: 4 GB

Ports: 100 MB ethernet port, IR port, two USB ports

Display: 15-inches 800 x 600

1999: The iBook


Are you ready for something crazy?

Maybe you even remember seeing this around?

The Apple iBook G3 followed up the success of the iMac G3 by offering a portable laptop for the growing number of fans who were jumping on board the Apple train.


That's one crazy laptop!

But consumers at the turn of the millennium loved it.

By 2000 the iMac and the iBook cemented Apple as the brand for young people and creatives.

Writers, designers, video producers and students bought the iBook in droves.

If you were young and trendy, chances are you had an iBook.

Apple iBook G3 specifications

Weight: 4 lbs

Processor: Motorola G3 600 Mhz

RAM: 256 MB

Hard drive: 4 GB

Display: 12.1-inches 1024 x 768

Airport wireless internet (early WiFi)


FireWire six-pin slot

Two USB ports

2001: iPod and iTunes

In the entire history of Apple, two products stand out. Obviously, the iPhone is one of them.

But you know what else?

The iPod.

You see, when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod in 2001, he changed the world of music.

For sure there were other MP3 players around in 2001, but they were awkward devices.

And they were small. They could carry a couple dozen songs. And you had to drag files from Windows to the device.

The iPod changed all that.

It could store thousands of songs and had an easily-accessible screen with a big mechanical track wheel.

Best of all, it had iTunes.

That's right.

Apple released iTunes alongside the iPod for both iMac and Windows.


With iTunes, users could plug in their iPod and everything would sync together. You didn't have to do anything.

And it doesn't stop there.

Because now you could buy tracks directly from iTunes for your iPod.

No more illegal downloads. No more Metallica suing children.

Suddenly, the music industry had found its savior.

2001 - 2018: The evolution of the iPod

Let's stop for a moment:

We need to look at the iPod because it changed so radically and inspired the creation of the iPhone.

The original iPod was such a hit that it rocketed Apple to the top of the tech world.

But Steve Jobs wasn't happy with the big clunky mechanical device. It didn't fit his vision of sleek, simple, and elegant.

He brought back Johnny Ives (who had designed the iMac and iBook), and the two went to work.

Eight months after the original iPod released, Apple unveiled a newer, more modern iPod.

The iPod Second Generation replaced the mechanical wheel with a touch-sensitive wheel and could store up to 20 GB of music.

But wait, there's more.

In 2004, Apple released the iPod Mini.

The Mini featured a touch-sensitive click-wheel, an innovation that defined the iPod.

It was metallic and came in five different colors. Even today, the iPod Mini looks modern.

ipod mini

2006: MacBooks

Let's jump right in:

Remember the iMac G3 which saved Apple?

Well, like all the rest of the history of Apple under Steve Jobs, they didn't sit still. In 2002 a redesigned iMac G4 came out. This was a cool take on the desktop computer. It was a monitor...and nothing else. The hard drive and processor and everything else was inside the monitor base. Then, in 2004 the iMac G5 came out. You would recognize it as an iMac even today.

Meanwhile, the iBook line was dropped, and a new slim, super-powerful laptop was released in 2006.

That's when Steve Jobs gave us the original MacBook Pro. It was slim and portable and extremely stylish.

The professional crowd fell in love with it, especially because it shipped with video-editing software installed.

2007: The iPhone

Are you ready?

Because 2007 was the most monumental year in the history of Apple.

That's when Steve Jobs took the stage at WWDC and said: "An iPod. A phone. A web browser. These are not three separate devices!"

Then he pulled out the iPhone. 

The iPhone instantly caused a tsunami of popularity. Even more so, it changed the mobile phone industry forever.

Shortly after releasing the iPhone, Apple released the App Store and suddenly the way software was distributed to end users was completely disrupted.

Best of all, along with millions of sales of iPhones in the first year, Apple experienced a boom in MacBook sales.

New iPhone users were switching from PC to Mac in droves.

Original iPhone specifications

Display: 3.5 inch

Processor: 412 Mhz

RAM: 128 MB

Storage: 4 GB

Camera: 2 megapixel

OS: iOS 3

You know the story.

In 2008 Apple released the iPhone 3G, to take advantage of the fastest network speed at the time. The 3Gs followed up in 2009.

Those models didn't look all that different from the first iPhone, but in 2010 Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4 and introduced a new design to the device.

The iPhone 4 was boxy, slimmer, lighter, and had a premium-looking stainless steel band around the frame.

And it was 70-times more powerful thanks to Apple locking down the hardware and software.

But that wasn't all Steve Jobs unveiled that day.

2010: The iPad

Let's start with Steve Jobs.

"Apple invented the laptop. We reinvented the phone. Is there room for a device in the middle of the two?"

Of course, he was talking about the iPad.

Think about it.

When you ponder a tablet, chances are you think of an iPad.

Nobody else has been able to replicate the functionality, form, technology, or even the popularity of the iPad.

In the first three years of the iPad, sales exploded to over $622 billion.

Meanwhile, around the world laptop sales plummetted.

The iPad is another of those iconic devices in the history of Apple.

Unfortunately, it would be the last disruptive technology that Steve Jobs, and Apple, would give the world.

2011: The death of Steve Jobs

apple phone

Unfortunately, in 2003 he had been diagnosed with an extremely rare form of pancreatic cancer.

Rather than seek modern treatment, he tried various homeopathic and alternative medicines.

Of course, those don't work on cancer.

By 2008, cancer had spread to his liver.

Jobs received a liver transplant, but it was too late.

By January 2011 he was on his death bed, and COO Tim Cook was running the company as acting CEO in Jobs' place.

He made a single appearance in June, and in July he stepped down as CEO, hand-picking Tim Cook as his successor.

Then he tried to tell some jokes to the new Siri voice assistant that Apple was designing, and he went home.

He passed a few days later.

The Tim Cook Era

tim cook

OK, I know what you're thinking.

Tim Cook's Apple is a failure that can't innovate.

I get it.

Sometimes it seems that Apple can only exist with Steve Jobs.

But under Tim Cook's guidance, the company went from just under $400 billion to sitting on top of a trillion dollars.

One trillion.

Remember that?

And while Apple under Tim Cook hasn't redefined technology in the same way that they did under Steve Jobs, you  have to remember that the playing field is different.

Google and Samsung are nipping at Apple's heels and often coming out with tech long before Apple does.

It's a different world now.

But you know what?

Apple is still in the fight.

Check it out.

2011 - 2018: iPhone 4s to iPhone Xs

Original iPhone specifications



iPhone 4s 2011

iphone 4s 2011

iPhone 5 2012

iPhone 5 2012

iPhone 5s 2013

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iPhone 6 2014

iPhone 6 2014

iPhone 6 XL 2014

iPhone 6 XL 2014

iPhone 6s 2015

iPhone 6s 2015

iPhone 6s XL 2015

iPhone 6s XL 2015

iPhone 7 2016

iPhone 7 2016

iPhone 7 XL 2016

iPhone 7 XL 2016

iPhone 8 2017

iPhone 8 2017

iPhone 8 XL 2017

iPhone 8 XL 2017

iPhone X 2017

iPhone X 2017

iPhone XS 2018

iPhone XS 2018

iPhone XS Max 2018

iPhone XS Max 2018

iPhone XR 2018

iPhone XR 2018

Since the death of Steve Jobs, Apple has made some huge changes to the iPhone.

The first big one came in 2014 with the release of the iPhone 6.

The small boxy four-inch screen of the previous versions was replaced by a big beautiful LCD display housed in a premium all-aluminum body.

The next big change came in 2017 with the iPhone X, which we're all familiar with.

But even more importantly is the technology under the hood.

First, iOS has changed. The stock apps are now full-featured and highly functional.

And they all back up to iCloud, so you can easily sync your entire life across your Apple devices.

Inside the newest iPhone XS is the A12 bionic chip, which benchmark tests show is more powerful than processors found in any laptop!

2015: Apple Watch

Here's another thing:

Apple didn't invent the smartwatch.

But they did perfect it.

In fact, the Apple Watch is the only successful smartwatch on the market as of this writing.

Of course, there are rumors that a Google Pixel Watch is in development, so we'll wait to see.

In the meantime, Apple has so far shipped 33 million Apple Watches, capturing over 50-percent of the smartwatch market.

That's disruptive!

2017: AirPods and the HomePod

Can I be totally honest with you?

The Apple HomePod is a flop. Even as an Apple fanboi I just don't get it. It's one of those rare dead-starts in the history of Apple products.

Tim Cook released the homepod in the summer of 2017. Apple never said it was a smart speaker, competing with Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Instead, they touted it as a revolutionary new speaker that happens to have Siri installed.

I mean, the sensors scan your room, find the best direction to bounce acoustics around, and deliver fantastic sound.

That's pretty cool.

But other speakers do that and for a much lower price.

Get this:

The AirPods, on the other hand, are fantastic.

Admit it, your first thought was "Those look dumb."

But then you try them out and your life is changed.

They sync seamlessly. They sound incredible. Your iPhone immediately starts playing where it left off as soon as you turn them on.

Best of all, they never fall out of your ear.

If only they weren't blinding white.

What's Next For Apple?

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking that Apple is in a downward spiral. There's only been one other time like this in the history of Apple.

Share prices are tanking, just like they did in the 90s. Sales are down. Heck, Apple hasn't even updated the iMac in forever.

And it's all Tim Cook's fault.

Not so fast.

Under Tim Cook, Apple is repositioning itself.

It's a new era, with tough new competitors, and Apple needs to pivot to meet that reality.

And that's what Tim Cook is doing.

My prediction is that Apple is heading for a more mobile, less wired future.

We'll see the MacBooks and iMacs become obsolete.

Meanwhile, the iPad and iPhone, and all the periphery devices they work with will evolve and grow.

Apple is gunning for the future of mobile computing. They look at the history of Apple and see where to change and where to grow.

Tim Cook is no idiot, and Apple is in good hands under his leadership.

For proof, just check out the 2018 iPad Pro!