Apple History

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Apple Display -- under Development

Cabinet [Donations by Jeff Ullman [JU] and others]

with Evan Wiederhold

A history of Apple and related events

Based on Walter Peterson's Cyberstreet Chronology;
Van Burnham: Video Game Timeline [Wired, May 2001], with many additions from a variety of (mainly on-line) published sources.
Information on Apples also from James Willing web site.
Also see
Alex Pang, Ph.D.: Making the Macintosh.
and corrections by Dr. O.M. Betz, received April 2006.
Dates introduced should be verified. Dates pertaining specifically to Apple are in Bold font.

1972: Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney start Atari to make video-game consoles. Their first product is a much-imitated hit: Pong.

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.
1975: Zilog Z-80 2.5Mhz processor chip is introduced.

1976: Steve Jobs And Steve Wozniak program the hit Videogame Breakout at Atari.
1976: Nolan Bushnell sells Atari to Warners.
1976: The Apple I personal computer -- a circuit board, to be installed in a 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, color graphics. It has a 6502 CPU, 4K of RAM, a Basic compiler, and game paddles.
1977: Apple, Commodore, and Tandy begin selling personal computers.
1977, April: Apple II introduced at the 1st West Coast Computer Faire. Price at Introduction: $1,298.00. First Availability was June 1977. Standard Memory: 4K bytes.

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, April: VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet software, is shown at the West Coast Computer Faire. VisiCalc was developed by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston. Visicalc is marketed by Personal Software corporation, a vendor of game software. Dan maintains a history site. VisiCalc transforms the Apple computer into a machine relevant for business users.
1979, June: Apple II+ introduced. Price at Introduction: $1,195.00 Standard Memory: 48k. One of the first computers to incorporate input (keyboard), output (video text and color graphics), and offline storage (cassette tape) in a single unit. Also an optional 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive (112kb or 140kb each depending on firmware revision).

1979: Steve Jobs visits Xerox Parc and views their Alto Computer.

1980: Total computers in use in the U.S. exceed one million units.
1980, September: Apple III introduced. Price at Introduction: $3,495.00 Standard Memory: 128k. The first 'corporately designed' system from Apple, and the first major flop! The Apple III was plagued with compatibility and reliability problems from the start. Poor quality IC sockets, and equally poor airflow in the case caused many problems, some of which generated some very odd solutions. Perhaps the most famous (infamous?) was the service bulletin advising that some intermittent problems could be corrected by lifting the front of the unit 3-4 inches, and dropping it! Even more curious was that this usually worked! But this exercise did little for the units reputation.

1981: Commodore brings out the VIC-20 at $300, to drive a TV display.

1982: Former Apple Exec Trip Hawkins starts a software game company: Electronic Arts.

1983: Total computers in use in the U.S. exceed ten million units.
1983, January ?. Apple IIe introduced. Price at Introduction: $1,395.00 The first model in the Apple II line with an integral option for 80-column video.
1983, January: Apple Lisa introduced. Price at Introduction: $9,995.00, Standard Memory: 1Mbyte. The predecessor to the Macintosh on which most of the major developments were based. (This machine had its genesis in a visit the Steve Jobs made to the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (P.A.R.C.) where he saw a demonstration of the Xerox 'Alto'. The Alto was the first machine to have a fully implemented, mouse driven, graphical user interface -- a GUI). The LISA may have actually been a better machine than the early Macintosh, but it was very expensive to manufacture and did not sell in the needed volumes. Not too long before the final demise of this design, it received some ROM and display hardware changes to allow it to run Macintosh software and was redesignated the "Macintosh XL". Following this change, the unit began to sell in volumes that surprised Apple executives, but sales were still not enough to save the line. The LISA/Mac XL line was finally discontinued in mid-1984.
1983: Visicorp, the successor to Personal Software, develops the Visi-On windowing system. It is based on an intermediate engine so that it can run on a wide variety of computers, but this generality affects its performance. Many concepts and people came from Xerox Parc. The two initial applications are a spread sheet and a word-processing system.
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 until 1985. The announcement puts broad committment to alternatives in abeyance.
1983, December: Apple III+ introduced. Price at Introduction: $2,995.00 Standard Memory: 256k. The Apple III+ (lower price, more memory, many internal fixes/updates) was the final effort to address the problems and save the line. It failed. In April 1984, only 4 months after the introduction of the Apple III+, the line was killed.
1984, January: Apple Macintosh introduced. Price at Introduction: $2,495.00. Standard Memory: 128Kb.
1984, April?: Apple IIc portable introduced. Price at Introduction: $1,295.00 Had 80 column display capability, a built-in 5.25 inch diskette drive, mouse and printer ports, and a game port. The first real 'portable' entry in the Apple II line.
1984: Commodore founder Jack Tramiel buys Atari from Warners, lays off most of the Atari staff.
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.

1986, January: Apple Macintosh 'Plus' introduced. Price at Introduction: $2,599.00. Standard Memory: 1Mb. The follow up machine to the original Macintosh (with 128k of memory) and the so called "Fat Mac" (with 512k memory). The 'Plus' was the first of the Macintosh line to allow memory expansion through the use of SIMM memory. Prior to this all memory was soldered to the main logic board. The 'SE' is usually found with from 1mb to 4Mb of memory.
1986, September: Apple IIgs ('Woz' Signature Edition) introduced. Price at Introduction: $999.00 .
1986, September: Apple IIgs (Standard Edition) introduced. Price at Introduction: $999.00.
1987: Apple Macintosh 'II'. The Mac gets big, and gets slots. The Macintosh II arrives on the scene in a 'PC' size desktop case and has the then new "NuBus" expantion slots for add-on cards. Based on the Motorola 68020 microprocessor, and bringing support for color displays, the Mac II sets the new standard for the Macintosh line for a time... .
1987: Apple introduces HyperCard sofware.
1987, March: Apple Macintosh 'SE' introduced. Price at Introduction: $2,898.00 (dual floppy version). The first of the Macintosh line to 'officially' support an internal hard drive. Prior to this all hard drives were either external to the system unit, or were third party internal units somewhat grudgingly accepted by Apple. 1987: Microsoft releases Windows 2.0 with substantially better performance and an improved interface. Competition from IBM and PC-clone makers diminishes 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 is produced by using postscript as the presentation format.
1988: IBM licenses Next's graphics user interface.
1988, September: Apple IIc Plus introduced. Price at Introduction: $1,099.00. A 3.5 inch built-in diskette drive, integral power supply, improved sound capabilities, and more... A significant improvement over the IIc interms of function and convenience.

1989: Apple introduces its long awaited portable Macintosh: the Powerbook. Standard sized keyboard, built in trackball for a mouse, and LCD screen
1990: Apple introduces its low-end Macintoshes: The Classic, LC and IISI.
1990: March: Apple Macintosh 'IIfx' introduced. The first real 'orphan' of the Macintosh line. Based on a 40mHz version of the 68030 microprocessor, Apple selected a rather odd 64 pin SIMM memory module for this unit that was never used again in any other Apple computer. This caused the unit to be unusually expensive to upgrade as the rest of the Macintosh II series of computers returned to more common configurations of memory.

1986: 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. A NEWTON is on display in the PDA section on the basement level. Unfortunately, the unit suffered from being somewhat under-powered (CPU wise), limited in expansion capability, and very expensive! But most of all, it suffered from far too much advance marketing hype! The handwriting recognition capabilities (the most hyped thing in the advance marketing) were much more limited than had been implied, and somewhat temperamental to boot! Later versions began to address these shortcomings, but by then the damage was done. At one point the 'Newton' division was spun off from Apple Computer into a stand-alone business in an attempt to make inroads into the market, only to later be re-absorbed by Apple and then disbanded.

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, February: The LC 575, a 68040-driven all-in-one computer introduced.
1994: Apple enters the on-line service market by announcing eWorld.
1994: Macintoshes using the PowerPC start shipping.
1994? : AT&T UNIX PC introduced. (aka: AT&T 7300, AT&T 3B1) AT&T's attempt to 'civilize' UNIX for the masses. (it failed) Despite a very sleek design, a fairly friendly 'shell', and a decent processor (a 68010), it was hobbled by a number of factors (CPU driven bit-mapped display, insufficient expandability, cost) and quickly fell out of the public's eye. In the same timeframe, other competitors entered the market with similar UNIX based systems (Fortune Systems being one notable example) with better performance, better multi-user support, and lower costs. The unit sold for nearly $10,000US at introduction, though the price dropped quickly in an attempt to build a following, and a 'humpback' version (which gained the '3B1' designation) was released to address the expandability issue (allowed use of full height hard drives), but a general lack of software and multiple missed dates for software releases and other improvements quickly led to the units demise.
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.
1997, September: Steve Jobs is named interim CEO at Apple.
1997, November: Apple introduces the Macintosh G3, it is used by Pixar studios in the making of Toy Story

May 1998: iMac, a new Macintosh Design introduced, shipped August 1998
1999 ?: Apple-Claris stops licensing its MacOS to other companies.
1999, summer: TNT movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley" released, Noah White plays Steve Jobs.
1999: MAC OS 9:0 (Sonata) is released.
1999, September:Macintosh ibook (G3 clamshell).

1999, August: High-end Macintoshes (G4) appear, with the PowerPC processor having a RISC architecture.
2001: OS X announced, based on UNIX and the NeXT software.
2001, October Apple introduces first iPod.
2003, April: Apple moves aggresively into the on-line music business, with the I-tunes music service for the I-pod player.
2003, October: iTunes availble for Windows computers.
2006, January: Disney acquires Pixar for $7.4 in stock. Steve Jobs quits as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios.

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