It’s been 40 years since Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold their prized possessions to begin working on the Apple I computer. Whether the creative process took place in a garage or not, it was then that one of the world’s most valuable companies was born. Over the years, Apple survived tumultuous times to become one of the most easily recognizable brands today. Even as it steps into middle age, Apple continues to draw eyes and headlines for every step it takes.
Join us on Apple’s 40th birthday, as we take a look at some of the company’s most memorable products over the past 40 years.
It’s hard to talk about Apple without going back to the very first product created by Steve Wozniak in 1976 — the Apple I. Wozniak initially created the computer as a side project, to show off to other hobbyists at the Homebrew Computer Club, but he was approached by his high school friend, Steve Jobs, who Wozniak says shared a love for “electronics and pranks.”
Jobs convinced his friend to begin selling the Apple I, and thus, Apple was born. Jobs’ and Wozniak’s names began to float around in computer magazines along with specifications for their first computer, which included a 1MHz processor, 4KB of RAM, and a supported resolution of 40 x 24 text. You can read the full operation manual here.
With the Macintosh — named after a type of apple — Jobs and Woz introduced the world’s first personal computer that wasn’t sold with a programming language. Apple drummed up hype for the graphical user interface through an advertisement that ran during Super Bowl XVIII titled, “1984.” As popular as the ad and the Mac were, It was too expensive for most consumers, and Apple faced negative margins — which eventually lead to an internal power struggle and Jobs’ resignation.
The first Macintosh had a built in 9-inch screen, and it was powered by an 8MHz processor, and 128KB of RAM.
The iMac debuted shortly after Steve Jobs came back to Apple and around the same time the company acquired Jobs’ NeXT Computer. Jobs had gone on to create NeXT after he resigned during internal power struggle. With his return, the iMac was released. It was a sleek, blue, all-in-one desktop that was designed by Sir Jonathan Ive. Ive would go on to pen the designs for many other famous Apple products.
While today’s 21.5-inch version runs a 5K Retina display, the original iMac had a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, on a 15-inch screen.
Perhaps one of the most iconic products of all time, the iPod made us dump our bulky Walkmans and tapes in the trash for good. It marked the takeover of the digital MP3. Before its launch in 2001, Apple unveiled iTunes — a digital media player to manage music and other content. iTunes played a huge role in the iPod’s success, as it was the tool you used to transfer content from your computer to the device.
The iPod was another landmark device designed by Jony Ive, and initially it let you put 1,000 songs in your pocket. Back then, it had 5.10GB of internal storage. The iPod lineup has grown vast, ranging from the iPod Nano to the iPod Touch, though its days may be numbered. In an earnings call in 2014, CEO Tim Cook himself said iPods were a “declining business.” With data plans getting more affordable, streaming services becoming increasingly popular, and smartphones including a lot more storage, the iPod has become a redundant device.
The MacBook Pro made laptops sexy. Ever since it launched in 2006, you couldn’t walk 10 feet into a college campus without seeing one. It ushered in a desire for sleek, minimalist laptops; and the MacBook Pro was the go-to laptop not just for students, but for everyone.
Now, 10 years later, the MacBook Pro lineup has expanded to include the MacBook Air and the MacBook. All these laptops share similar design themes. When it first launched, the first MacBook Pro came with a 15-inch screen, but a 17-inch variant was introduced months later.
Like the MacBook, the iPhone turned smartphones into must-have gadgets. It ushered in a new age of mobile devices, and almost every other company mimicked the look of Apple’s most popular product. The company has sold more than 700 million iPhones as of 2015, when Tim Cook made the announcement at the Apple Watch unveiling.
The initial launch of the iPhone saw two models, a 4GB version and an 8GB version, priced at $500 and $600 respectively. The atmosphere was electric with excitement, as hundreds of people stood outside of Apple’s stores waiting to get their hands on the device. The launch day became known as “iDay,” and the phone was being dubbed as the “Jesus phone.”
The iPad kickstarted a wave of tablets when it first came out. The first 9.7-inch iPad boasted a screen resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels and the A4 processor. Although it was initially mocked for being useless and having a silly name, the iPad quickly became the most popular tablet. Although sales are declining, Apple keeps reinvigorating the iPad with new styles. The iPad Pro models are the most recent and powerful tablets of the bunch, and Apple even suggests that they can replace laptops.
Even though it joined the smartwatch game late, Apple has easily taken the top spot as the dominant force in the market. Its sales beat market leaders like Pebble, Fitbit, and Samsung. The Apple Watch still may seem like an expensive accessory, but it has been praised for its design and its unique interface.
A second version is highly anticipated later this year, and at its March 21 event Apple released new nylon watch straps for the smartwatch.
With 40 years under its belt, it’s exciting to see what the future holds for the Cupertino company. Apple just launched the iPhone SE, but was also briefly dethroned in February by Alphabet as the most valuable company in the world. Alphabet is the parent company of Google and its other ventures, like Fiber and Nest.
Apple is also expecting slow growth in smartphone sales, as smartphones are generally not selling like hotcakes anymore. But what’s next for Apple, other than the rumored iPhone 7? It’s expected that the company will jump on the virtual reality train, and Apple has been slowly hiring a team filled with VR and augmented reality experts.
Apple is also heavily invested in “Project Titan,” its purported electric and autonomous vehicle project that will likely compete with the likes of Google’s self-driving car and Tesla’s electric vehicles.
We’ll have a lot to look forward to with Apple in 2016 and beyond, such as how its defense of encryption will pan out, or if the iPhone 7 will have OLED panels. While some say the Apple’s best years are behind it, here’s to hoping the company proves the pundits wrong again. For now, happy 40th birthday, Apple.
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