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Apple History Timeline
What happened when, in summary

By: Andy Mesa

This page summarizes pretty much everything relating to Apple in the past 3 decades in chronological order (including a few relevant events of IBM, Microsoft, and NeXT).

For more information read Owen Linzmayer's excellent Mac Bathroom Reader, with detailed accounts of all the events mentioned below from the people who actually experienced it. As usual, if you have any information you would like to add or correct, please e-mail me.


  • 1967: Jef Raskin (one of the Mac creators) writes Ph.D. thesis on the Graphical User Interface (GUI) at Penn State University. He coins the term "Quick Draw" for the first time -- 17 years later Apple uses "QuickDraw" as the name for the Mac's graphic libraries in tribute to Raskin's contributions.
  • 1968: Bill Fernandez introduces his high school buddy Steve Jobs to his neighbor Steve Wozniak. Enough said.
  • 1970: Xerox opens Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to research advances in computer science. Raskin begins to take several trips to PARC as a visiting scholar for the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
  • 1972: Jobs becomes one of the first 50 employees at Atari, under Atari founder Nolan K. Bushnell. Jobs later asks Woz for help in creating the sequel to the smash hit "Pong", entitled "Breakout". Jobs cheats Woz out of $5000.
  • 1973: PARC finishes work on the $40,000 Alto, that only certain schools can buy. It becomes the first integrated GUI-operated computer (though many concepts existed before). It also used the first laser printer, and was connected to other Altos using the first Ethernet network.
  • 1975: Woz begins attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club. Woz becomes intrigued by the Altair 8800 often shown there. He cannot afford one so he decides to build his own microcomputer. Work begins on the Apple I.


  • March: Woz finishes work on the Apple I. He first asks his employer, Hewlett Packard, if they are interested in an $800 machine that runs BASIC. All the departments in HP turns down his offer.
  • April 1: Apple Computer Company is founded by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Ron Wayne.
  • May: $666.66 Apple I introduced at the Home Brew Computer Club meeting. Paul Terell, president of Byte Shop chain, makes 50 orders.
  • June: Byte Shop order finished 1 day before deadline. Ron Wayne leaves company.
  • Fall: Woz shows an Apple II prototype to Commodore representatives. Commodore turns him down.
  • August: Jobs asks his former boss, Nolan Bushnell, for information on investors. Bushnell recommends Don Valentine, who in turn recommends Mike Markkula, who becomes a key person in Apple's history for over twenty years.
  • October: Commodore buys MOS Technology, the company who makes the processors that power the Apple I, Apple II and of course the Commodore PET and CBM computers (and later the VIC -20 and C-64 computers, as well as Atari and others).


  • January 3: Apple Computer, Inc. is officially created and the company is incorporated. Mike Markkula invests $92,000 in Apple, with intent to invest $250,000.
  • April: The Apple II is publicly introduced for $1295.


  • January 3: 34-year-old Jef Raskin joins Apple Computer exactly one year after becoming incorporated. Becomes employee #31.
  • June 17: Jobs' daughter, Lisa Nicole, is born out of wedlock. He initially denies the possibility of being the father, but came to accept her.


  • January: Daniel Fylstra writes CalcuLedger (later to become VisiCalc). Offers it to Apple and Microsoft for $1 million. Both turn him down.
  • Spring: Raskin refuses proposal to work on Annie Project, a $500 game machine. Suggests a GUI project instead.
  • May: Raskin writes proposal for the PITS (Person In The Street's) Computer. It would supposedly to solve the complexities of the Apple II.
  • June: Apple II+ introduced for $1195.
  • July 30: The Lisa Project, a $2000 Apple III-like computer, begins under Ken Rothmuller. Expected release was March 1981.
  • August: Apple licensees AppleSoft BASIC from Microsoft for $21,000. Written by Randy Wigginton, who also created MacWrite.
  • September: Raskin gets approval to begin work on Macintosh Project, a $500 portable computer similar to his PITS proposal.
  • October: Fylstra releases VisiCalc. It becomes one of the most successful programs ever, being the first "killer app".
  • November: Jobs takes his first visit to PARC in exchange for allowing Xerox to invest $1 million in Apple.
  • December: Jobs returns to PARC with several vice presidents and management heads.


  • March: Lisa project revamped to include many of the features of the Alto, with several more. Rothmuller complains the specs are too much to be accomplished if they want to retain the current release schedule and keep the final price reasonable. Jobs fires Rothmuller for "not cooperating", later replaced by John Couch.
  • Summer: Jobs hires 15 Xerox employees to work on the Lisa Project who are all excited to "get out of the lab" at Xerox, and work on a real product that will someday ship.
  • May 19: The Apple III is released at the National Computer Conference (NCC) for $4340 to $7800 depending on configuration -- this is one of the first multiprocessing desktop computers.
  • December 12: Apple goes public. Apple's share rises 32% that day, making 40 employees instant millionaires. Jobs, the largest shareholder, makes $217 million dollars alone. Markkula makes $203 million that day, an incomprehensible 220,700% return on investment . Neither Jef Raskin, nor Daniel Kottke (one of the original Apple employees) were allowed to buy stock and so made no money during this time. Many more would have been left out, if it had not been for the heroic and generous egalitarian efforts of Woz (who gives away much of his stock for the sake of other employees).


  • January: Jobs forces himself into the Macintosh Project, after earlier dismissing and often trying to cancel it.
  • March: Mike Markkula becomes president of Apple. The original ship date for the Lisa is missed, coming out 3 years later.
  • June: Xerox introduces at NCC the $16,595 Star (a sort of successor to the Alto).
  • August 12: IBM introduces the IBM PC for $1565. With 16k RAM, and an optional 5.25" floppy drive, running the first version of MS-DOS. Basically it is a poor rip-off of CP/M based Altair machines of the decade before, and is not as efficient or polished as the Apple II's. Nevertheless, it becomes an instant success.


  • January 22: Jobs convinces Bill to write a BASIC interpreter and to write Applications for the Mac.
  • February: The Mac case-design is finished and finally approved. All the signatures of the members of the project are placed inside the mold.
  • March 1: After Raskin forced out of the Macintosh project (by Jobs), Raskin resigns.
  • July 30: The applications bundled with the Lisa finally work together under the OS for the first time.
  • September 1: Lisa is declared ready for market.
  • Late in the year: Chiat/Day writes "1984" ad, originally for the Apple II. It is never run.


  • January 19: The Lisa is introduced for $9998. The Apple IIe is introduced for $1395, later arguably becoming the most successful and most popular Apple computer. It will be produced for 10 and a half more years.
  • Spring: Chiat/Day rewrites "1984" for use in the now famous commercial advertising the Macintosh during Super Bowl XVIII.
  • May: Apple enters Fortune 500 at #411 after only five years of existence. It becomes the fastest growing company in history.
  • April 8: Jobs convinces John Sculley, then president of PepsiCo, to become president and CEO of Apple in a famous quote (paraphrased) where Jobs says to Sculley, "Do you want to make sugar-water all your life or do you want to change the world?".
  • May 16: The original ship date for the Macintosh at the NCC is missed.
  • September: Lisa released without bundled software for $6995.
  • October 7: The Macintosh Introduction Plan, a list of popular developers and celebrities that are invited to beta-test the Mac, is written.
  • November: The Lisa and Macintosh divisions are combined to form the Apple 32 SuperMicro Division.
  • December: The Apple III+ is introduced for $2995. It replaced the defective Apple III models.
  • December 15: Chiat/Day airs "1984" for the first time. It was aired in the signoff slot of KMVT Channel 11, at 1:00 AM (coincidentally, on my third birthday). This is customary for the company, so it can be eligible for the advertising awards issued that year.
  • Late 1983: IBM sells 1 million IBM PCs, and introduces the big flop IBM PC/Jr.
  • Bill Gates first announces Windows, and how the GUI will revolutionize the PC. Microsoft will not release it for 4 more years.


  • January 17: The 30-second version of "1984" appears in theater previews across the country. It was so admired, it was often replayed for free.
  • January 22: Apple airs "1984" during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII to a crowd of
  • January 24: $2495 Macintosh and $3495 Lisa 2 introduced.
  • April 24: Apple IIc introduced at the Apple Forever Conference in San Diego. The Apple III is discontinued.
  • September: Apple IIc wins Industrial Design Excellence Award.
  • Microsoft announces and released Word, Multiplan, File, Chart, BASIC for the Mac, and other programs.


  • January: Apple renames the Lisa 2/10 the Macintosh XL, and discontinues all other Lisa configurations.
  • January 20: "Lemmings" commercial comes out at Super Bowl XIX. IS/IT types find it so insulting that they hold it against Apple for years.
  • March: Apple IIe enhanced introduced.
  • April 29: As Lisa sales are finally taking off (as the expandable Mac) Jobs gets control of the Lisa project. Jobs sees the Lisa as competition to the Macintosh so he cancels the Lisa
  • May 15: The last Lisa/Mac XL is produced at a Carrollton, Texas factory. Sun Remarketing buys thousands of the last Lisas to sell as expanded Macs.
  • May 24: Jobs tries to force Sculley out of Apple by forming a coup against him.
  • May 31: Jobs is stripped of all his duties. He job description becomes "global thinker", and his remote office dubbed "Siberia".
  • July 29: Gates sends Sculley a memo suggesting licensing of the Mac OS and prospective companies who might create Mac clones.
  • September: Apple sells 500,000 Macintosh models.
  • September 12: Jobs announces intent to create new company with other "lower-level" employees.
  • September 17: Jobs distributes his resignation letter to Apple and several other news media figures.
  • September 23: Apples files suit against Jobs. Apple claims Jobs knows sensitive technology secrets that he might use in his new company.
  • November 22: Sculley signs agreement to let Bill Gates use Mac technology in Windows, if Microsoft continues to produce products for the Mac.
  • Microsoft releases Excel for Macintosh.


  • January: Apple settles law suit against Jobs out of court. Jobs agrees not to hire any Apple employees for 6 months, and to always make computers that are more powerful than anything Apple has to offer...yes, you read right.
  • February: Jobs finishes selling all but one of his 6.5 million shares of stock to begin NeXT, Inc.
  • June: Paul Rand, responsible for the IBM logo, designs the NeXT logo and suggests the use of the small "e".
  • September: The Apple IIGS is introduced for $999.
  • Aldus introduces the TIFF format, later to become the desktop publishing standard. Compaq introduces the first Intel 386 PC, replacing IBM as the PC technology leader.


  • January 3: Apple celebrates its tenth birthday. A coffee table book, So Far, later chronicles the experiences of the last ten years.
  • Early in the year: Ross Perot invests $20 million in NeXT, Inc.
  • Spring: Projected release of first NeXT machine. The NeXT Computer would be a year and a half late.
  • March 17: Apple declares 6 different Mac Pluses the 1 millionth Mac. Raskin is presented with one of them, which he still uses.
  • March 17: Apple introduces the MacSE and more importantly the MacII -- which is a 68020 based Open-Macintosh that includes Plug & Play NuBus slots, multiple monitor support, 32 bit color, ADB and many other technologies that PC's won't see for up to 10 more years.
  • August 11: Microsoft releases the first version of its GUI OS, Windows 1.01. It's arcane user interface is almost unusable, a large disappointment.
  • The IIe extended is introduced. Raskin releases the Canon Cat, a computer that was much more like his PITS and Mac proposals of several years earlier. It fails to become popular, but it wins several design awards.


  • January: Microsoft releases the second version of Windows, version 2.03. Seeing as 1.01 was almost unusable, many improvements were made, most of which were taken from the Mac. Such features include Mac-like icons, and overlapping instead of tiling windows.
  • September: The Apple IIc+, the last in the Apple II line, is introduced. GS/OS System 1, a Mac-like GUI for the IIGS, is introduced.
  • October 12: the NeXT Computer is released for $6500. It included a 25 MHz '30 processor, 8 MB RAM, 250 MB optical disk drive, math coprocessor, digital processor for real time sound, faxmodem, and a 17" monitor.


  • February: Apple Corps., the Beatle's record company, files a trademark infringement suit against Apple over Mac's sound capabilities and CD-ROM's (which are treading into the "music" arena).
  • September: Apple rents space at the Logan landfill and trashes the remaining 2,700 Lisa models.
  • September 18: The NeXTSTEP OS is introduced. It will eventually be bought by Apple and used in its next generation OS, Rhapsody.


  • February: Dan'l Lewin, a NeXT founder, resigns.
  • May 22: Windows 3.0 released
  • September 18: The NeXTstation is released for $4995, one year after the introduction of the NeXTSTEP OS. It used the new 25 MHz '40, 2.88 MB floppy drive, 105MB HD, 8MB RAM, and monochrome monitor. Also introduced was the NeXTstation Color for $7995 with a 16" monitor capable of 4,096 colors, and 12 MB RAM. The $7995 NeXTcube was next, with the same configuration as a NeXTstation Color except it could use a 32-bit video board for 16.7 million colors in Adobe's Display Postscript.


  • April 12: Sculley gives a demonstration to IBM engineers of a IBM PS/2 Model 70 running Pink, a now defunct object-oriented OS that made IBM-compatible computers look a lot like Macs running System 7.
  • June: Ross Perot, one of NeXT's board of directors and founder, resigns saying it was one of his biggest mistakes.
  • July 3: IBM sent a letter of intent to Apple, saying it would help finish Pink and license its RISC processor in the works (PowerPC).
  • October 2: The Apple/IBM alliance becomes official. Among the many agreements, Apple and IBM will create PowerPC-based machines and produce two companies, Taligent and Kaleida. The former a now-defunct company that worked on the now-defunct Pink, the latter a company that produces multimedia tools.
  • October 9: Apple settled suit with Apple Corps, agreeing to pay $26.5 million.


  • January 22: Steve Jobs announces NeXTSTEP 3.0, NeXTSTEP 486, a version of NeXTSTEP that could run on an Intel 486 simultaneously with MS-DOS, and promises 33 MHz '40 processor versions of the NeXTcube and NeXTstation/Color at the NeXTWORLD Expo in San Francisco. NeXT would eventually move its OS entirely to the Intel x86 platform. Coincidentally, the exposition is held at the same time and in the same city as the Macworld Expo.
  • March-May: Microsoft introduces Windows 3.1. Microsoft does not make another update (besides 3.11) for 3 years. Even today Windows 3.1 has about 40% market share. Windows 95 and Mac OS are both at around 16-17%.
  • Late September: NeXTSTEP 3.0 is released.
  • June: Bud Tribble, a NeXT founder, resigns.


  • January: Rich Page, a NeXT founder, resigns.
  • February 10: Jobs lays off 280 of his 530 NeXT employees on "Black Tuesday". Sells his hardware line to Canon, and tries to become a Microsoft-like company by concentrating only on the NeXTSTEP OS for the Intel x86 platform.
  • April: Motorola ships the first 50 MHz and 66 MHz PowerPC 601. The first generation of PowerPCs has begun. George Crow, the last NeXT founder besides Jobs, resigns.
  • May: NeXTSTEP for Intel Processors (compatible with 486 and Pentium processors) is released.
  • June 18: Michael Spindler replaces Sculley as CEO of Apple. Sculley holds chairman position.
  • September: Software developers, most notably Aldus and Adobe, show beta native-PowerPC versions of their applications.
  • October: IBM releases 50 MHz, 66 MHz, and 80 MHz PowerPC 601, and an 80 MHz 604.
  • October 15: Sculley resigns from Apple, joins the ailing Spectrum.
  • November: Apple licensees PowerPC ROMs to DayStar Digital, so they can begin creating PPC Upgrade cards. DayStar also later becomes one of the first Mac OS license holders, as well an authority in multiprocessing PowerPC-based Macs.


  • January: Apple releases the 66 MHz PowerPC Upgrade Card, the first commercial PowerPC product.
  • February: Apple announces the Copland Project (defunct Mac OS 8, superseded by Rhapsody).
  • May 9: Kaleida lays off 20% of its employees.
  • March 14: Apple releases the first PowerMacs (6100/60, 7100/66, 8100/80) using the PowerPC 601.
  • June: Apple releases System 7.5, with a bunch of new features everybody already had as shareware.
  • September: Apple licenses the Mac OS to Radius and Power Computing.
  • November-December: IBM and Motorola ship 66 MHz and 80 MHz 603, and a 100 MHz 604. PReP (a.k.a. CHRP, PPCP) Project begins, which will be able to run Windows 95/NT and the Mac OS in one PowerPC machine.


  • February: IBM and Motorola introduce the 100 MHz 603e, up to 30% faster than a 603.
  • April: IBM releases 120 MHz 601.
  • May: Power Computing releases the first Mac clones, including the very successful Power 100.
  • June: Apple releases the first PCI Mac, the $5000 PowerMac 9500/120 using the new Tsunami motherboard.
  • November: PReP becomes CHRP as Apple, IBM , and Motorola releases the first CHRP specifications.


  • February: Apple licensees the Mac OS to Motorola, allows authority to sublicense for the first time.
  • April 1: Apple celebrates its 20th birthday. The 20th Anniversary Macintosh is announced to commemorate the occasion.
  • April: IBM releases 166 MHz and 180 MHz 604e.
  • May-July: Apple licensees Mac OS to IBM. PowerPC 603e and 604e reach 200 MHz.
  • August: Apple kills Copland Project (most of the technology is absorbed into other projects). IBM and Motorola demo their CHRP prototypes. The third generation of PowerPC processors (G3) is announced. Motorola, Apple, and IBM predict an exponential gain in performance.
  • October: System 7.55 is introduced.
  • December: Apple buys NeXT, Inc. for $430 million. Development of Windows NT for PowerPC stops when Microsoft tries to extort Motorola for hundreds of Millions of dollars, on top of royalties already agreed to (for the right to port NT for MS).


  • January 24: Mac OS 7.6, the first part of Apple's new OS strategy, is released exactly 13 years after the introduction of the Macintosh.
  • January 26: Steve Jobs, back as an "advisor" due to the NeXT deal, announces the future of Rhapsody, Mac OS 8, Allegro, and Sonata, the Mac, NeXT, and Apple in general at Macworld Expo.
  • April: Motorola introduces 300 MHz 603e.
  • June: Motorola introduces 350 MHz Mach 5 604e.
  • July: President and CEO Gil Amelio and VP Ellen Hancock are forced to resign.
  • July 22: Mac OS 8 is finally released. Selling 1.25 million copies in less than 2 weeks, it becomes the best-selling software in that period.
  • August 6: former "advisor" Steve Jobs becomes "de facto head", announces Microsoft alliance at the Macworld Expo in Boston. Among the agreements are a cross-platform license, $150 million invested in Apple stocks, an undisclosed amount of money for Apple (rumored to be $800 million), the production of MS Office for 5 years, and MS Internet Explorer as the default browser for the Mac OS.
  • September: Motorola releases PowerPC 750 (G3) processor. Apple releases PowerMac 9600/350.
  • September 2: Apple buys Power Computing's license and core assets, halts all CHRP licensing. Motorola suspends shipment of StarMax 6000, the first CHRP Mac.
  • September 11: Motorola discontinues all StarMax models and leaves Mac-clone market altogether. IBM later does the same.
  • September 16: formerly "de facto head" Steve Jobs becomes "interim CEO" of Apple. Jobs remains CEO to this day.
  • October: Apple seeds Rhapsody Developer Release 1.0. The new next-generation OS holds great promise for the computer industry.
  • November 10: At worldwide "Apple Event", Apple releases the PowerMac G3. The Apple Store is also introduced, and a deal is made with CompUSA for an "Apple store within the store". Though this greatly increases Mac sales, many disappointed by lack of bigger news.
  • December: The US Justice Department forces Microsoft to stop forcing clone vendors to bundle MS Internet Explorer with Windows 95.


  • January 7: Jobs announces a projected $47 million profit for the first quarter at Macworld Expo, finally bringing Apple back to profitability.
  • January 31: Power Computing goes out of business for good. All office computers and supplies are auctioned off. Owners of Power Computing stock are mailed Apple stock.
  • February 4: IBM shows off their prototype 1.1 GHz (1100 MHz) PowerPC processor.
  • February 27: After a little over 5 years, the Newton/eMate line has been discontinued by Apple. Instead, mobile-based products using Mac OS technology will be developed by 1999. Bandai also liquidates all Bandai @World (Pippin) consoles. This centers Apple on the Macintosh as its only computing platform.
  • March 15: Apple "stores within stores" open in all of the 149 CompUSA locations across the country, answering the cry of many Mac users who loathe the pathetically small, incomplete, and out of stock Apple sections most retail computer stores provide.
  • May: Apple announces the iMac and new PowerBook G3 Series.
  • July: Apple announced their third consecutive profit, $101 million, higher than anyone had expected. "Apple is back" stories surface all over Internet, print, and TV. Macworld Expo highlights the many features of the iMac, and reveals Apple's software and hardware strategies for the rest of the millennium.
  • July 30: Motorola releases 333, 366, and 400 MHz PowerPC processors. Planned to be used in the upcoming PowerMac G3 Pro models, as well as a revamped PowerBook G3, these chips are by far less energy consuming than even the older, slower G3s. The new G3 processors reportedly gain supercomputer status by government agencies.
  • August 7: Apple announces 150,000 preorders for the iMac. Apple goes over $40/share, highest stock market price in three years.
  • August 15: iMac is released in the largest hardware product rollout that the industry has seen.


Created: 08/17/98
Updated: 11/09/02

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