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Apple Computer

Apple Computer is a large, multi-national corporation whose main business is computer technologies.

Table of contents

Pre-history

Steve Wozniak (commonly known as Woz) had always been an electronics hacker, and in 1975 he started attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club. He was inspired by what was going on.

At the time the only microcomputer CPUs generally available were the $179 Intel 8080, and the $170 Motorola 6800. Woz preferred the 6800, but both were out of his price range. So he watched, and learned, and designed computers on paper waiting for the day he could afford a CPU. This may have been the best thing to ever happen to the computer market.

In 1976 MOS Technologies released the famous 6502, at $25. Woz immediately started writing a version of BASIC for the chip, and when he completed that, he started designing the computer it would run on. The 6502 was designed by the same people who designed the 6800 (like many in the valley, they left their employer in disgust, to form their own company) and his earlier 6800 paper-computer needed only minor changes to run on the new chip.

Woz completed the machine and started taking it to the meetings at the Homebrew Computer Club, where he could often be seen showing off the latest addition to the system. There he bumped into an old friend, Steve Jobs, who had recently started attending the shows with an interest in the future commercial applications of these tiny hobby machines.

Early machines included a module which used marzipan as the main insulating material on the CPU resistors. The first users of the machines would often make the lab smell of fragrant almonds but the performance boost more than made up for the odour.

Early Years

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak ("the two Steves") had been friends for some time, and Jobs managed to interest Woz in assembling the machine and selling it. Jobs approached a local computer store, The Byte Shop, who said they would be interested in the machine, but only if it came fully assembled. The owner, Paul Terrell, went further, saying he would order 50 of the machines and pay $500 each on delivery.

The machine had only a few notable features. One was the use of a TV as the display system, whereas many machines had no display at all. This was not like the displays of later machines however, and displayed text at a terribly slow 60cps. This machine, the Apple I also included bootstrap code on ROM, which made it easier to start up. Finally, at the insistence of Paul Terrell, Woz also designed a cassette interface for loading and saving programs, at the then-rapid pace of 1200bps. Although the machine was fairly simple, it was nevertheless a masterpiece of design, using far fewer parts than anything in its class, and quickly earning Woz a reputation as a master designer.

Joined by another friend, Ron Wayne, the three started to build the machines. Using a variety of methods, including borrowing space from friends and family, selling various prized items (like calculators and a VW bus), scrounging and some white lies, Jobs managed to secure the parts needed while Woz and Wayne assembled them. They were delivered in June, and as promised, they were paid on delivery. Eventually 200 of the Apple I's were built.

But Woz had already moved on from the Apple I. Many of the design features of the I were due to the limited amount of money they had to construct the prototype, but with the income from the sales he was able to start construction of a very much upgraded machine, the Apple II.

The main difference internally was a completely redesigned TV interface, which held the display in memory. Now not only useful for simple text display, the Apple II included graphics, and eventually, color. Jobs meanwhile pressed for a much improved case and keyboard, with the idea that the machine should be complete and ready-to-run out of the box. This was almost the case for the Apple I's sold to the Byte Shop, but one still needed to plug various parts together and type in the code to run BASIC.

Building such a machine was going to cost a lot more money. Jobs started looking for cash, but Wayne was somewhat gun shy due to a failed venture four years earlier, and eventually dropped out of the company. Jobs eventually met "Mike" Markkula who co-signed a bank loan for $250,000, and the three formed Apple Computer Company on April 1, 1976.

With both cash and a new case design in hand, the Apple II was released in 1977 and became the computer generally credited with creating the home computer market. Millions were sold well into the 1980s. When Apple went public in 1980, they generated more money than any IPO since Ford in 1956, and instantly created more millionaires than any company in history.

A number of different models of the Apple II family were built, when the now-large company started on the Apple III (which was a disaster).

Meanwhile various groups within Apple were working on a completely new kind of personal computer, with advanced technologies such as a graphical user interface, computer mouse, object-oriented programming, and networking capabilities. These people, including Jef Raskin and Bill Atkinson, agitated for Steve Jobs to put the company's focus behind such computers.

It was only when they brought him to see the work being done at Xerox PARC on the Alto in December 1979 that Jobs decided the future was in such graphics-intensive, icon-friendly computers, and supported the competing Apple Lisa and Apple Macintosh teams. Xerox granted the Apple engineers access to the PARC facilities in return for $1 million in Apple stock, over the objections of some of the PARC researchers, many of whom (such as Larry Tesler[?]) ended up working at Apple. The Lisa debuted in January 1983 at $10,000 and failed commercially. Apple struck gold in 1984 with the myth-making launch of the Apple Macintosh computer.

Recent Years

A laptop version of the Macintosh, the PowerBook, was introduced in the early 1990s. Products from Apple also include operating systems such as ProDOS, Mac OS and A/UX, networking products such as Appletalk and multimedia program QuickTime. Discontinued products include the Apple PowerMac G4 Cube[?] and Apple Newton handheld computer.

After an internal power struggle with new CEO John Sculley in the 1980s, Jobs "resigned" from Apple and went on to found NeXT which failed. Later on, Apple in an effort to save the company, bought up NeXT and its UNIX based OS NeXTStep and of course Jobs.

More recent products include the Apple Airport which uses Wireless LAN technology to connect computers of different brands to the Internet without wires. There is also the iBook and G4 Computer. In early 2002, Apple unveiled a new one piece design of the new iMac. It has a hemispherical base and a 15" flat panel all-digital display supported by a shiny neck that also served as the handle.

Recently, Apple has introduced Mac OS X, a new version of their operating system that finally marries the stability of Unix with the ease-of-use of the Macintosh Interface in an OS targeted at professionals and consumers alike.

Apple computers such as the PowerBook, and more recently the iBook and the iMac are frequently featured as props in films and television series. Apple ran an advertising campaign for the PowerBook featuring clips from the film Mission Impossible.

In addition to computers, Apple has also produced very popular consumer devices. In the 1990s, Apple released the Newton, a handheld electronic note-taking device. It experienced mediocre success, but was clearly ahead of its time, by perhaps 10 years.

In October of 2001, Apple introduced the iPod, a portable music mp3 player. Its signature was the incredible amount of storage room, initially 5 GB of space, able to hold approximately 1,000 songs. Apple has since revised its iPod line several times in the past few years with newer versions, a slimmer, more compact design, Windows compatibility, storage sizes of up to 30 GB, and the ability to easily hook it up to a car or home stereo.

Apple has revolutionized the computer and music industry by signing the 5 major record companies to join its new Music download service, the successful iTunes Music Store. Unlike other fee-based music services, the iTunes Music Store charges a flat $.99 per song (or $9.99 per album). Also unlike other services, users actually own the music they purchase, and can burn the songs onto a CD, share and play the songs on up to 3 computers, and of course download songs onto an iPod - all with very few restrictions.

The acclaimed iTunes Music Store has seen 2 million downloads in only 16 days; all of which were only purchased on Macintosh computers. Other companies are feverishly trying to release competing services for the PC. Apple has announced they will be releasing a version of iTunes for Windows, allowing Windows users the ability to access the store as well. In addition, Apple plans for a worldwide release for its music store; currently, it is only available to customers in the United States.

See also List of Macintosh models grouped by CPU

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