To a younger audience, the idea of Apple (AAPL) not dominating the modern technological landscape might be inconceivable.
But Apple is a company that has been around for decades, long before they were creating phones. They were some turbulent times with successes and failures, memorable accomplishments and years of struggles.
This is not the Apple of 1984 or the Apple of the early 90s. But the goals of the creators of the company, and every step along the way, helped get them to where they are now - the first ever company to be valued at $1 trillion.
How do you get a trillion dollar company? Here's the history of Apple, its ups and downs, and where it stands today.
When you think about the figure behind Apple, Steve Jobs immediately comes to mind for everyone, and perhaps Steve Wozniak as well. The duo have come to represent the total of what Apple became, Wozniak the technological expert and Jobs the marketing guru.
Their partnership extends all the way back to Jobs's teenage years, when they were introduced to each other by mutual friend Bill Fernandez. Jobs was still in high school while Wozniak was attending University of California, Berkeley. The two were bonded by a shared love of technology and pranks.
It didn't take long for their partnership to take on what would become a familiar form: Jobs as the face and Wozniak working behind the scenes. Jobs was working at Atari in the early 1970s and was tasked to work on the game Breakout. Woz was not working there but Jobs roped him into helping reduce the number of logic chips while creating the circuit board.
How Was Apple Founded?
Jobs and Wozniak met up again in 1975 at the Homebrew Computer Club, a local club for computer enthusiasts. Inspired by the DIY attitude, Wozniak went off and created his own home computer.
This is a modest way of describing a game-changing creation; Woz's computer was the first to connect to a television, generating characters with a typewriter-inspired keyboard and successfully displaying them on the TV screen. Unknowingly, he had created the earliest archetype for what the common home PC would later become. His employer, Hewlett-Packard, (HPQ) also didn't know this, and rejected the design several times.
Jobs, on the other hand, saw potential in the computer immediately. He convinced Wozniak that they could make a business, and after selling some of their belongings for cash, they and Jobs's co-worker at Atari, (PONGF) Ronald Wayne, formed Apple Computers. Wozniak's computer became known as the Apple I.
Jobs made a deal with local computer store The Byte Shop to sell them, and the manager of the store had to confirm that to an electronics distributor before they could get their parts. Ultimately, 200 Apple I computers were created.
Development of Apple Computers, Popularity and Decline
Computers were growing as both a technology and a hobby, and the Apple I made Jobs and Wozniak a huge part of that. Not long after the Apple I, they were set to work on improving it and creating the Apple II.
The money that came in from the sales of the Apple I allowed Wozniak to create something more akin to his vision as opposed to using whatever resources he had. The Apple II was the first home computer, expanding on the abilities of the first iteration to add things we take for granted in modern computers like high-resolution (for that era, anyway) color graphics and sound.
The Apple II made the company. Households began buying them, and schools followed suit. In 1979 its first app, Visicalc, was released. Visicalc was a calculator and spreadsheet program, and its success made Apple computers a must for businesses. The widespread appeal, as well as the continuing improvements to the model (such as 1979's Apple II Plus) made it a phenomenal success.
Apple had fast established itself as one of the main forces in this industry, but their extreme confidence and arrogance led to some major mistakes. In 1980, the Apple III was released, but a design flaw proved disastrous. Steve Jobs insisted that the computer not have fans or vents to reduce noise, but this inevitably lead to computers dangerously overheating. The heat would cause chips to disconnect from the motherboard, causing problems for the user.
This misstep coincided with IBM (IBM) releasing their first ever personal computer. With Apple having to recall computers and taking a major reputation hit, the IBM PC overtook it in sales, and Apple needed a win.
In the early 80s Apple set to work on two different personal computers: the Lisa and the Macintosh. The Lisa, which Steve Jobs initially worked on before being taken off the project and working on Macintosh instead, was released in 1983. It was meant to be a more technologically advanced computer than any of its predecessors, but it was also incredibly expensive, causing poor sales.
The Macintosh, unlike the Lisa, did find success. Jobs joined the project midway through, and the computer became their sleeker, faster one compared with the Lisa. It was also more intensely marketed, as evidenced by the iconic 1984 commercial directed by Ridley Scott that aired during the Super Bowl.
Though also costly, the Macintosh was ultimately a success, and its additional iterations in the 80s became a mainstay in offices and schools.
Apple Without Steve Jobs
Not everything was great for Apple during this time, however. Steve Jobs's relationship with CEO John Sculley soured, and their differences in opinion for what the company should be focusing on reached a breaking point. Though the Macintosh had solid initial sales, it was struggling to surpass the IBM PC, and as the Macintosh was now seen as Jobs's project the Apple Board of Directors sided with Sculley. Having little influence at Apple anymore, he sold his shares in the company and stepped down.
The beginning of the Jobs-less era of Apple started off well. The Macintosh continued to develop and sell well, and the company still sold Apple IIs. But their projects in the 90s made limited waves in the computer world, and as Bill Gates and Microsoft went from techie favorites to household names, Apple became a much less relevant force.
Not that they didn't continue to put out products. This was the era where Apple first extended to handheld electronics with the Newton, for example. But it was far less eventful than the early days of groundbreaking technology and commercials directed by major film directors.
Jobs Returns: iPod, iPhone and iPad
In late 1996, Apple announced it was purchasing computer company NeXT for well over $400 million. NeXT was the follow-up project from Steve Jobs, and the purchase made Jobs a figure in Apple once again.
Not even a year after the sale, Jobs took over as interim CEO after the Board of Directors got rid of then-CEO Gil Amelio. Jobs immediately set to work on restoring the company and its computers to the glory days. The first massive decision he made was a deal with Microsoft (MSFT) in which Microsoft Office would be released on Macintosh computers, getting people in the tech world excited about the new direction.
Over the next several years, Jobs would start putting together the pieces of what Apple is recognizable for now. In addition to a new desktop PC, the iMac, the late 90s saw the first iteration of an Apple laptop, the iBook.
The 2000s, though, was the decade that saw an Apple explosion. The iPod changed Apple completely. A portable music player, the first model was released in 2001, and the iTunes Store was released in 2003 at a point when Apple's computers now ran on MacOS. The memorable marketing, including commercials with U2, turned the iPod into a sensation. It spawned several versions, varying in size and disk space.
The iPod, with its sleeker and simpler design, was a sign of what was to come for Apple products. The mid-2000s saw the new Apple laptop, the MacBook. All of these products were for sale in the ever-expanding Apple Stores.
Thriving in the portable electronics world as well as the computer world, Apple made its next move into the world of cellphones. The first iPhone was released in 2007; the second model came out in 2008, and the third in 2009. With new products continually being released, Apple stayed in the public eye. By the time they announced their upcoming tablet product, the iPad, they were a tech behemoth and campouts for new Apple products were common. With their mobile operating system, the iOS, Apple's success in mobile devices effectively changed the way people used the internet.
The Present: The Tim Cook Years
In 2011, Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple due to health concerns, and longtime employees and previous COO Tim Cook was announced as his replacement.
The Tim Cook era of Apple has seen the company continue to keep its spot atop the tech industry. Even newer products that have been criticized, such as the Apple Watch, have sold well. iPhones, MacBooks and iPads continue to release new and improved models with constantly updating iOS and MacOS systems.
Apple and FAANG
As one of the foremost tech companies and thus tech stocks on the market, Apple is an integral part of FAANG. FAANG is an acronym for the five most powerful tech companies on the market: Facebook (FB) , Amazon (AMZN) , Apple (AAPL) , Netflix (NFLX) and Alphabet, formerly Google (GOOG) .
It's only fitting that Apple, the first trillion-dollar company in history, would be singled out as one of the most powerful companies in its - or any - field.
For all of its success, Apple has encountered plenty of entirely warranted controversies, perhaps the most notable of which was the reveal of the abhorrent working conditions that workers in China who assemble their products had to deal with.
More recently, the company came under fire after it was discovered that older iPhone models were being intentionally slowed down as a result of the operating system. The controversy, dubbed Batterygate, led to the company apologizing and offering discounted replacement batteries to anyone with an iPhone 6 or newer.
It was not just the only controversy surrounding the iPhone, it wasn't even the only iPhone controversy to wind up with a -gate suffix. "BendGate," was a controversy when it rumored that the iPhone 6 was much easier to accidentally bend irreparably.
During the iPhone 6 rollout was the U2 scandal, where a copy of the new U2 album "Songs of Innocence" was immediately sent to every iTunes user's Purchased Music. Apple was surprised to find that many users were unhappy and perhaps even disturbed at the company's ability to send something to their devices without consent.