Read the first two parts of this series:

Part 1 – 1976 – 1986

Part 2 – 1986 – 1996

Apple’s board had ousted Gilbert Amelio from his position as Chairman and CEO and was searching for a replacement, the board immediately turned to Steve Jobs, he denied the position but did offer to help Apple for up to 90 days while they searched for a CEO. The board contemplated this and returned to Jobs, they asked his if he would be Chairman, he denied that position also. But Steve did agree to simply become a member of the board, but nothing more.

Although just a member of the board Steve took a de-facto leadership of Apple, on August 6 1997 at MacWorld Expo Boston Steve announced to the audience some shocking news, Apple’s board was going through a major reshuffle with the majority of the current board resigning and a new one moving in.

Bill GatesBill Gates appears like Big Brother at MacWorld Boston 1997

More shocking and fear ridden than anything else before, Steve announced that Apple had entered into a patent cross-licensing and technology agreements, in fact the final details were finished just hours before Jobs’ Keynote. Bill Gates appeared on the screen behind Apple to a mass booing from the crowd. The deal was that Microsoft would continue to make Mac versions of its Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer products for at least 5 years. In return Apple would bundle Internet Explorer with Mac OS. Apparently the decision was a good one with Apple stocks rising 33% to $26.31 immediately after the announcement.

Overall the deal with Microsoft appeared to not be causing Apple any issues; in fact it seemed to be a good plan to help Apple out of a tricky financial situation.

With Steve now clearly at the helm of Apple (although still only an iCEO), Steve was making good progress in pulling Apple out of the ashes, but it had barely begun, his first plan was to redesign the original Macintosh 128k, an all in one computer. The unknown Jonathan Ive led the design team and the final product was called the iMac. Available in some crazy hippy colours and having some brand new yet controversial technologies (USB) it just looked impressive. Although the machine was not speced amazingly it became so successful it made Apple a profit for the first time in 5 years. 800,000 iMacs were sold in 1998 with Apple announcing a profit of $309 million that year.

The success continued as Apple purchased a software package from Macromedia called Final Cut, it was Apple’s attempt at the digital video editing market, in 1999 iMovie was released and later on that year Final Cut Pro was launched for video editing professionals. Apple followed this up by purchasing Astarte’s DVDirector software that was later revealed as iDVD and later vamped into DVD Studio Pro.

In 2001 Apple really made a major advancement, with the release of Mac OS X it was aimed at merging reliability, stability and security of Unix with the ease and simplicity that was OS 9.

Apple Store Magnificent MileApple logo at the Apple Retail Store on Maginificent Mile in Chicago

In May of 2001 Apple opened it first Apple Retail Store at Tysons Corner in McLean VA. To this day Apple has opened 132 Apple Retail Stores throughout the USA, UK, Canada and Japan, the idea of retail stores was coined to help stem the slipping Apple market share and to counter a poor marketing record.

But Apple and Steve Jobs had one more thing up there sleeves, Apple wanted to produce a product that would become the centre of the “digital hub”, a team of designers was thrown together by Jon Rubinstein and within one year the iPod was ready. On October 23, 2001 Steve Jobs announced that Apple was releasing an MP3 player with a 5 GB hard drive that could store up to 1000 songs in your pocket. Not even Apple knew how much this little white MP3 player would change the world.

In 2002 Apple released the second generation of iPods, this time releasing a version that would work on Windows as well as Mac. At the time the Windows compatible iPod came bundled with MusicMatch rather than Apples iTunes. The year after the third generation of iPods was released, now the Windows version came bundled with a version of iTunes, it is widely known that to this day the iPod has a near 90% share of the MP3 player market and it’s estimated that over 42 million units have been sold since its incarnation.

iTunes Music Store UKUK iTunes Music Store on 1st April 2006

In 2003 Apple knew it had a success on its hands, but it also faced a problem, millions of people had a device capable of playing music, but where would the music come from?

Using the software it already had as the basis Apple released the iTunes Music Store on April 28, the Store provided the ability to purchase a single song for $.99 (79p) and it would download into your iTunes and be transferred onto your iPod. The iTunes Music Store soon featured music from “The Big Five” – Universal, Sony Music Entertainment, BMG and EMI. Recently the iTunes Music Store surpassed one billion song downloads and offers the ability to purchase TV shows and some feature length films. The iTunes Music Store is available to residents of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Japan and Australia.

With the MP3 player market under Apple’s belt and being well on its way to dominating the sales of music Apple was doing amazingly, with a soaring share price and continuously announcing fantastic earnings it looked like nothing could bring Apple down.

It's True!Steve Jobs announces the switch to Intel at WWDC 2005

In 2005 Steve Jobs took the stage at WWDC and announced that Apple would be moving processor platforms once again, this time to Intel. The move was rumoured previous to the announcement but it still came as a shock to most and worry began to cover the Mac forums. Jobs said during his Keynote that Intel machines would begin to appear sometime in 2006. So when MacWorld San Francisco rolled around in January of 2006, very few expected what Apple was about to deliver. It was unveiled that Apple would begin shipping a brand new Intel based iMac, boasting 2-3x the performance of the previous G5 iMac. But Steve had “one more thing”, the MacBook Pro is Apple’s new branding for the PowerBook and the new machine packed a massive 4x speed improvement over the PowerBook, the machines began shipping in February. Just under 2 months of Apple announcing its first bundle of Intel machines it announced that the Mac mini was the next line of Macs to move to Intel, much like the MacBook Pro the Mac mini offers a 4x speed improvement over the former.

Over the last thirty years Apple has had its ups and downs but now seems safe with the original owner holding the reigns. Nobody really knows what the future holds for Apple, with the iPod having a good side effect on the sales of Mac’s can Apple claw back its market share?

Quick Facts

List of Apple CEO’s

  • 1977 – 1981 – Michael Scott
  • 1981 – 1983 – Mike Markkula
  • 1983 – 1993 – John Sculley
  • 1993 – 1996 – Mike Spindler
  • 1996 – 1997 – Gil Amelio
  • 1997 – Present Day – Steve Jobs

List of Apple advertising slogans

  • Byte into an Apple – 1970’s
  • Soon there will be 2 kinds of people, those who use computers and those who use Apples – Early 1980’s
  • Changing the world – one person at a time – 1983 – 1984
  • The computer for the rest of us – 1984
  • Leading the way – 1984
  • There’s no telling how far it can take you – 1984
  • The power to be your best – Late 1980’s
  • Think Different – 1997 – 2002
  • Switch – 2002 – 2003

Original Apple employees in 1976

  • Steve Jobs
  • Steve Wozniak
  • Mike Markkula
  • Bill Fernandez
  • Rod Holt
  • Randy Wiggington
  • Michael Scott
  • Chris Espinosa