“We started putting a computer in the hands of ordinary people and we achieved it beyond our wildest dreams.”
– Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc., 1976.
Steve Jobs was adopted by a family in Mountain View, California. While still in high school, Jobs’ interest in electronics led him to call William Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard to order some parts for a school project. Hewlett supplied the parts and then made an offer to Jobs to do an internship at Hewlett-Packard for a summer. There, Jobs puts Steve Wozniak, a talented and knowledgeable engineer five years older than the high school student. Their friendship would eventually be the foundation on which Apple was built.
Jobs dropped out of Reed College after one semester and went to work for Atari designing games. He carefully saved the money he earned while working at Atari so that he could take a trip to India and satiate his fledgling interest in Eastern spiritualism.
After returning home from India, Jobs and Wozniak renewed their friendship. Jobs was shown a small computer that Wozniak had been working on as a hobby, but Jobs saw its potential immediately and persuaded Wozniak to do business with it. In 1975, at the age of 20, Jobs went to work in his parents’ garage with Wozniak working on the Apple I prototype.
I sold the Apple modestly, but well enough to be able to work on the Apple II. In 1977 the new model was put on sale. With a keyboard, color monitors, and easy-to-use software, Apple became a hit. The company made $ 3 million in its first year and surpassed $ 200 million in its third.
However, in addition to the Apple III and its successor, the LISA did not sell as well as expected and a marked increase in competition in the sale of PCs, in 1980 Apple lost almost half of its sales to IBM. Things got worse for Jobs in 1983 when a fight with the directors caused CEO John Sculley, whom Jobs had hired himself, to oust him from the board.
In 1984, in response to the sharp drop in sales, Jobs launched the Apple Macintosh, which introduced the world to point-and-click simplicity. Marketing for the Mac was mishandled, and at $ 2,500, it wasn’t reaching the homes it was designed for. Jobs tried to repackage the Mac as a business computer, but without a hard drive or networking capabilities, not to mention just a small memory capacity, corporations weren’t interested. In 1985, without any power in his own company, Jobs sold his shares in Apple and resigned.
Later, in 1985, Jobs founded NeXT Computer Co. with the money he had earned from the sale of his shares in Apple. He planned to build a computer to change the way research was conducted. The NeXT computer, while complete with never-before-seen processing speeds, unmatched graphics, and an optical disc drive, at $ 9,950 each, sold poorly.
Persistent after the failures of the NeXT company, Jobs began to play with the software and began to focus his attention on a company that he had bought from George Lucas in 1986, Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs signed a three-movie deal with Disney and began work on the first computer-animated movie. Released in the fall of 1995, “Toy Story” had taken four years to make. But the work was worth it, the movie was an incredible success. Pixar went public in 1996, and in one trading day, Jobs ‘80% stake had turned into a billion dollars’ worth.
Apple was struggling, it had failed to design a new Macintosh operating system, and the company only had 5% of the PC market. Days after Pixar went public, Apple bought NeXT for $ 400 million and changed Jobs’ name to the board of directors to advise Gilbert F. Amelio, president and CEO. However, in March 1997, Apple posted a $ 708 million quarterly loss and Amelio resigned a few months later. Jobs was left in charge as interim CEO and it was up to him to maintain the same company that he had started that had kicked him out alive. So he made a deal with Microsoft. With an investment of $ 150 million for a small stake in Apple, Apple and Microsoft “would cooperate on various fronts of sales and technology,” and Apple would be assured of its continuity in the PC market.
Jobs also went to work improving the quality of Apple computers. The introduction of the G3 Power PC microprocessor made Apple faster than computers that run on Pentium processors. Apple also turned its energies toward producing an inexpensive desktop computer, the iMac, which was another success for the company. With Jobs once again in control, Apple was able to quickly reverse and, by the end of 1998, it was generating $ 5.9 billion in sales. Jobs had returned to his first love, a little older and a little wiser. It had made Apple healthy again and returned it to a place where it was bringing new and innovative technologies to the world of computing.