Based on Walter Peterson's Cyberstreet Chronology, with many additions from a variety of (mainly on-line) published sources
1975: MITS introduces the Altair personal computer, named after
a Star Trek episode, A Voyage to Altair. The kit cost $397 for
a 256 byte computer. The I/O consisted of switches and lights.
It was designed by Ed Roberts and Bill Yates.
1975: Microsoft is founded after Bill Gates and Paul Allen adapt and sell BASIC to MITS for the Altair PC.
1976: Zilog Z-80 chip is introduced.
1976: The Apple I personal computer -- a circuit board, to be installed in wooden box, to be made by the purchaser, is built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
1977: Apple Computer is founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and introduces the Apple II personal computer.
1977: Apple, Commodore, and Tandy begin selling personal computers.
1978: Total computers in use in the U.S. exceed a half million units.
1978: Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) builds the Alto, the first computer to use icons and a mouse instead of text and arrow keys for navigation.
1979: VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet software, is shown at the West Coast Computer Faire. Visicalc transforms the Apple computer into a machine relevant for business users.
1979: Steve Jobs visits Xerox Parc and views their Alto Computer.
1980: Total computers in use in the U.S. exceed one million units.
1983: Total computers in use in the U.S. exceed ten million units.
1983: John Sculley leaves as PepsiCo president and joins Apple at the invitation of Steve Jobs, who reportedly asked him, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?"
1983: Microsoft announces that it will develop a Windows-oriented operating system for Intel-based microprocessor systems, challenging Apple's innovation, but Windows 1.0 is not shipped untill 1985.
1984: Apple introduces the Macintosh computer.
1985: Steve Jobs leaves Apple to start NeXT computers, focusing on the educational market. He receives substantial funding.
1985: Apple and Microsoft entered into a secret agreement. This agreement granted Microsoft a license to use the windows and icons in the development of version 1.0. In exchange, Microsoft agreed to develop software for the Macintosh platform. [Richmond Law Journal, 10 April 1995]
1985: Aldus introduces PageMaker for the Macintosh and starts the desktop publishing era.
1987: Apple introduces the Macintosh II and Macintosh SE and HyperCard.
1987: Microsoft releases Windows 2.0 with substantially better performance and an improved interface. Competition from IBM and PC-clone makers diminshes Apple's dominance.
1987: Apple spins off its application software business as a separate company and names it Claris.
1988: Apple sues Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard for replicating more of the look-and-feel of the Apple interface in their Windows OS 2.03 system.
1988: Next unveils its innovative workstation computer which is the first computer using erasable optical disks as the primary mass storage device. The operating system is based on the CMU Mach version of UNIX, but has pleasant graphical interface. Quality output bis produced by using postscript as the presentation format.
1988: IBM licenses Next's graphics user interface.
1989: Apple introduces its long awaited portable Macintosh: the Powerbook.
1990: Apple introduces its low-end Macintoshes: The Classic, LC and IISI.
19xx: Steve Jobs buys the Pixar Animation studios from George Lucas.
19yy: Works with Jeff Raskin.
1991: Apple releases the System 7.0 operating system for Macintosh.
1991: Major changes among PC dealers as ComputerLand acquires Nynex's computer stores, CompuCom acquires Computer Factory, ValCom and Inacomp merge, JWP buys Businessland and Intelligent Electronics acquires BizMart.
1991: Apple and IBM sign a historic deal--including two joint ventures: Kaleida will develop multimedia products, Taligent will develop object-oriented operating software.
1991: Apple rolls out its PowerBook notebook and Quadra Macintosh PCs.
1992: The core of Apple's lawsuit versus Microsoft Windows is dismissed.
1993: The NeXT system is too costly for the educational market. Most units were in fact purchased by DoD and ARPA contractors. Next sells its hardware business to Canon and will concentrate its effort on the Nextstep software business. 1993: Apple ships the Newton MessagePad--its first Personal Digital Assistant, a pet project of John Sculley.
1994: John Sculley leaves Apple after 10 years at the helm. Joins and leaves Spectrun after 6 months.
1993: Sun Microsystems licenses NextStep and makes a $10M investment in Next.
1994: Apple enters the on-line service market by announcing eWorld.
1994: Macintoshes using the PowerPC start shipping.
1995: Gil Amelio runs Apple.
1996: Steve Jobs rejoins Apple as interim CEO.
1996: Apple buys what is left of NeXT for $400M.
1997: Gil Amelio leaves Apple, publishes On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple in 1999.
1999?: Apple-Claris stops licensing its MacOS to other companies.
<1999> MAC OS 9:0 (Sonata) is released.
1998: Apple introduces the Macintosh G3, it is used by Pixar studios in the making of Toy Story/
xxx: High-end Macintoshes (G4) appear, for instance the Apple Computer Macintosh LC 575 (68LC040,36MB,160MB,+PicPonLC)
2001: OS X annouced, based on UNIX and the NeXT software.
Based on Walter Peterson's Cyberstreet Chronology
1972: Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney strat Atari, to make video-game consoles, first product is a much-imitated hit: Pong.