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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL; formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is an American multinational corporation that designs and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company`s best-known hardware products are the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Its software includes the Mac OS X operating system; the iTunes media browser; the iLife suite of multimedia and creativity software; the iWork suite of productivity software; Aperture, a professional photography package; Final Cut Studio, a suite of professional audio and film-industry software products; Logic Studio, a suite of music production tools; the Safari web browser; and iOS, a mobile operating system.
As of July 2011, Apple has 357 retail stores in ten countries, and an online store. It is the largest publicly traded company in the world by market capitalization, overtopping ExxonMobil by some $150 billion, as well as the largest technology company in the world by revenue and profit, more than Google and Microsoft combined. As of September 24, 2011, the company had 60,400 permanent full-time employees and 2,900 temporary full-time employees worldwide; its worldwide annual revenue in 2010 totalled $65 billion, growing to $108 billion in 2011.
Fortune magazine named Apple the most admired company in the United States in 2008, and in the world from 2008 to 2012. However, the company has received widespread criticism for its contractors` labor, and for its environmental and business practices.
Established on April 1, 1976 in Cupertino, California, and incorporated January 3, 1977, the company was named Apple Computer, Inc. for its first 30 years. The word "Computer" was removed from its name on January 9, 2007, as its traditional focus on personal computers shifted towards consumer electronics.
19761980: The early years
Apple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, to sell the Apple I personal computer kit. They were hand-built by Wozniak and first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple I was sold as a motherboard (with CPU, RAM, and basic textual-video chips)less than what is today considered a complete personal computer. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 and was market-priced at $666.66 ($2,723 in 2012 dollars, adjusted for inflation.)
The Apple I, Apple`s first product, was sold as an assembled circuit board and lacked basic features such as a keyboard, monitor, and case. The owner of this unit added a keyboard and a wooden case.
Apple was incorporated January 3, 1977 without Wayne, who sold his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800. Multi-millionaire Mike Markkula provided essential business expertise and funding of $250,000 during the incorporation of Apple.
The Apple II was introduced on April 16, 1977 at the first West Coast Computer Faire. It differed from its major rivals, the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, because it came with character cell based color graphics and an open architecture. While early models used ordinary cassette tapes as storage devices, they were superseded by the introduction of a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive and interface, the Disk II.
The Apple II was chosen to be the desktop platform for the first "killer app" of the business worldthe VisiCalc spreadsheet program. VisiCalc created a business market for the Apple II, and gave home users an additional reason to buy an Apple IIcompatibility with the office. According to Brian Bagnall, Apple exaggerated its sales figures and was a distant third place to Commodore and Tandy until VisiCalc came along.
By the end of the 1970s, Apple had a staff of computer designers and a production line. The company introduced the ill-fated Apple III in May 1980 in an attempt to compete with IBM and Microsoft in the business and corporate computing market.
Jobs and several Apple employees including Jef Raskin visited Xerox PARC in December 1979 to see the Xerox Alto. Xerox granted Apple engineers three days of access to the PARC facilities in return for the option to buy 100,000 shares (800,000 split-adjusted shares) of Apple at the pre-IPO price of $10 a share. Jobs was immediately convinced that all future computers would use a graphical user interface (GUI), and development of a GUI began for the Apple Lisa.
In 1980, Apple went public, generating more capital than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956 and instantly creating more millionaires (about 300) than any company in history.
19811985: Lisa and Macintosh
The Model from Apple`s "1984" ad, set in a dystopian future modeled after the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, set the tone for the introduction of the Macintosh.
Steve Jobs began working on the Apple Lisa in 1978 but in 1982 he was pushed from the Lisa team due to infighting, and took over Jef Raskin`s low-cost-computer project, the Macintosh. A turf war broke out between Lisa`s "corporate shirts" and Jobs` "pirates" over which product would ship first and save Apple. Lisa won the race in 1983 and became the first personal computer sold to the public with a GUI, but was a commercial failure due to its high price tag and limited software titles.
The first Macintosh, released in 1984
In 1984, Apple next launched the Macintosh. Its debut was announced by the now famous $1.5 million television commercial "1984". It was directed by Ridley Scott, aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984, and is now considered a watershed event for Apple`s success and a "masterpiece".
The Macintosh initially sold well, but follow-up sales were not strong due to its high price and limited range of software titles. The machine`s fortunes changed with the introduction of the LaserWriter, the first PostScript laser printer to be offered at a reasonable price, and PageMaker, an early desktop publishing package. The Mac was particularly powerful in this market due to its advanced graphics capabilities, which had necessarily been built in to create the intuitive Macintosh GUI. It has been suggested that the combination of these three products was responsible for the creation of the desktop publishing market.
In 1985 a power struggle developed between Jobs and CEO John Sculley, who had been hired two years earlier. The Apple board of directors instructed Sculley to "contain" Jobs and limit his ability to launch expensive forays into untested products. Rather than submit to Sculley`s direction, Jobs attempted to oust him from his leadership role at Apple. Sculley found out that Jobs had been attempting to organize a putsch and called a board meeting at which Apple`s board of directors sided with Sculley and removed Jobs from his managerial duties. Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT Inc. the same year.
19861993: Rise and fall
See also: Timeline of Apple II family and Timeline of Macintosh models
The Macintosh Portable was Apple`s first "portable" Macintosh computer, released in 1989.
Having learned several painful lessons after introducing the bulky Macintosh Portable in 1989, Apple introduced the PowerBook in 1991. The Macintosh Portable was designed to be just as powerful as a desktop Macintosh, but weighed 7.5 kilograms (17 lb) with a 12-hour battery life. The same year, Apple introduced System 7, a major upgrade to the operating system, which added color to the interface and introduced new networking capabilities. It remained the architectural basis for Mac OS until 2001.
The success of the PowerBook and other products brought increasing revenue. For some time, it appeared that Apple could do no wrong, introducing fresh new products and generating increasing profits in the process. The magazine MacAddict named the period between 1989 and 1991 as the "first golden age" of the Macintosh.
Following the success of the Macintosh LC, Apple introduced the Centris line, a low-end Quadra offering, and the ill-fated Performa line that was sold in several confusing configurations and software bundles to avoid competing with the various consumer outlets such as Sears, Price Club, and Wal-Mart, who were the primary dealers for these models. The result was disastrous for Apple as consumers did not understand the difference between models.
During this time Apple experimented with a number of other failed consumer targeted products including digital cameras, portable CD audio players, speakers, video consoles, and TV appliances. Enormous resources were also invested in the problem-plagued Newton division based on John Sculley`s unrealistic market forecasts. Ultimately, all this proved too-little-too-late, as Apple`s market share and stock prices continued to slide.
Apple saw the Apple II series as too expensive to produce, while taking away sales from the low end Macintosh. In 1990, Apple released the Macintosh LC with a single expansion slot for the Apple IIe Card to migrate Apple II users to the Macintosh platform. Apple stopped selling the Apple IIe in 1993.
Microsoft continued to gain market share with Windows, focusing on delivering software to cheap commodity personal computers while Apple was delivering a richly engineered, but expensive, experience. Apple relied on high profit margins and never developed a clear response. Instead they sued Microsoft for using a graphical user interface similar to the Apple Lisa in Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation. The lawsuit dragged on for years before it was finally dismissed. At the same time, a series of major product flops and missed deadlines sullied Apple`s reputation, and Sculley was replaced by Michael Spindler.
19941997: Attempts at reinvention
The Newton was Apple`s first foray into the PDA markets, as well as one of the first in the industry. Despite being a financial flop at the time of its release, it helped pave the way for the Palm Pilot and Apple`s own iPhone and iPad in the future.
By the early 1990s, Apple was developing alternative platforms to the Macintosh, such as the A/UX. Apple had also begun to experiment in providing a Mac-only online portal which they called eWorld, developed in collaboration with America Online and designed as a Mac-friendly alternative to other online services such as CompuServe. The Macintosh platform was itself becoming outdated because it was not built for multitasking, and several important software routines were programmed directly into the hardware. In addition, Apple was facing competition from OS/2 and UNIX vendors like Sun Microsystems. The Macintosh would need to be replaced by a new platform, or reworked to run on more powerful hardware.
In 1994, Apple allied with IBM and Motorola in the AIM alliance. The goal was to create a new computing platform (the PowerPC Reference Platform), which would use IBM and Motorola hardware coupled with Apple`s software. The AIM alliance hoped that PReP`s performance and Apple`s software would leave the PC far behind, thus countering Microsoft. The same year, Apple introduced the Power Macintosh, the first of many Apple computers to use IBM`s PowerPC processor.
In 1996, Michael Spindler was replaced by Gil Amelio as CEO. Gil Amelio made many changes at Apple, including extensive layoffs. After multiple failed attempts to improve Mac OS, first with the Taligent project, then later with Copland and Gershwin, Amelio chose to purchase NeXT and its NeXTSTEP operating system, bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple as an advisor. On July 9, 1997, Gil Amelio was ousted by the board of directors after overseeing a three-year record-low stock price and crippling financial losses. Jobs became the interim CEO and began restructuring the company`s product line.
At the 1997 Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would join Microsoft to release new versions of Microsoft Office for the Macintosh, and that Microsoft made a $150 million investment in non-voting Apple stock.
On November 10, 1997, Apple introduced the Apple Online Store, tied to a new build-to-order manufacturing strategy.
19982005: Return to profitability
On August 15, 1998, Apple introduced a new all-in-one computer reminiscent of the Macintosh 128K: the iMac. The iMac design team was led by Jonathan Ive, who would later design the iPod and the iPhone. The iMac featured modern technology and a unique design, and sold almost 800,000 units in its first five months.
Through this period, Apple purchased several companies to create a portfolio of professional and consumer-oriented digital production software. In 1998, Apple announced the purchase of Macromedia`s Final Cut software, signaling its expansion into the digital video editing market. The following year, Apple released two video editing products: iMovie for consumers and, for professionals, Final Cut Pro, which has gone on to be a significant video-editing program, with 800,000 registered users in early 2007. In 2002 Apple purchased Nothing Real for their advanced digital compositing application Shake, as well as Emagic for their music productivity application Logic, which led to the development of their consumer-level GarageBand application. iPhoto`s release the same year completed the iLife suite.
Apple retail stores allow potential customers to use floor models without making a purchase.
Mac OS X, based on NeXT`s OPENSTEP and BSD Unix was released on March 24, 2001, after several years of development. Aimed at consumers and professionals alike, Mac OS X aimed to combine the stability, reliability and security of Unix with the ease of use afforded by an overhauled user interface. To aid users in migrating from Mac OS 9, the new operating system allowed the use of OS 9 applications through Mac OS X`s Classic environment.
On May 19, 2001, Apple opened the first official Apple Retail Stores in Virginia and California. Later on July 9 they bought Spruce Technologies, a DVD authoring company. On October 23 of the same year, Apple announced the iPod portable digital audio player, and started selling it on November 10. The product was phenomenally successful over 100 million units were sold within six years. In 2003, Apple`s iTunes Store was introduced, offering online music downloads for $0.99 a song and integration with the iPod. The service quickly became the market leader in online music services, with over 5 billion downloads by June 19, 2008.
Since 2001 Apple`s design team has progressively abandoned the use of translucent colored plastics first used in the
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