Apple Company: The Path to Success

Date: Nov 17, 2019

Apple Innovation

Lyons wrote, “Innovation is fresh thinking that creates value”. This word is directly connected with Apple Company. It is necessary to look back in order to see this parallel. In the mid-70s in the United States, computer clubs have gained wide popularity, and their number was growing. In such places, the enthusiasts could share information or get advice on building a personal microcomputer. In addition, some engineers wanted not only to build microcomputers according to the instructions, but also develop their own models. At that time, the computer industry was in its infancy, and there were no set standards. Any idea or a project of development had the right to exist.

Steve Wozniak, the 26-year-old engineer, was one of those fans. He developed a project of his computer on the paper and wrote some Fortran compilers and Basic interpreters. However, the lack of money prevented the implementation of the plan. He could not afford to buy the best microprocessors Intel-8080 and Motorolla-6800. However, he found a suitable processor at an affordable price. It was chip 6502 of MOS Technology with the command system similar to the one used in Motorolla-6800.

The first microcomputers had very primitive user interface, being one of their major drawbacks. For this reason, it was difficult to communicate with the machine operator. There was no monitor, no keyboard, or mouse in Altair-8800. People used switches on the front panel to enter any information. They could see the results on the LED displays. Later, teletype and telegraph devices with the keyboard appeared on a larger model of the machine. Wozniak revolutionized the interface of microcomputers. He applied the keyboard to input data similar to a typewriter keyboard, and an ordinary TV to display information. By the beginning of 1976, the development of the microcomputers had been completed.  


Apple Business

Wozniak brought his creation to the Computer Club “Homebrew” to demonstrate it to his associates. However, most members did not appreciate his idea. They criticized his system because a microprocessor system of another company was used in the computer. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs, his friend, immediately understood that this computer would have a great future. Even in his young age, Jobs had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Thus, he proposed Wozniak to organize a company and produce computers in order to sell them to everyone by mail as a set of parts. Later the same year, they founded Apple Computer Company. However, due to some circumstances, they managed to register it almost a year later. Apple was chosen as an official name of their company.

Paul Terrell, the owner of the computer store “The Byte Shop”, agreed to buy a batch of 50 computers for $500 each, but with the proviso that they would be assembled and ready for use. Like the rest of young companies, Apple simply did not have the financial resources to buy accessories for the whole machine. However, Jobs managed to get a loan. It was a big risk, but, as it turned out later, a justified one. Wozniak and Jobs assembled and tested all computers in the garage of Jobs’ parents. As a result, Paul Terrell sold nearly two hundred copies of Apple I at a price of 666 dollars during ten months. 

However, it was extremely difficult to sell Apple in the stores. Then, Wozniak developed the next version of the computer, named Apple II. He tried to correct many of the shortcomings of the first version: the computer got color, graphics mode, and sound. He added the extended memory, eight expansion slots instead of one, and a cassette tape as a means of storing programs. Finally, Apple II was dressed in an elegant plastic housing, which appealed to the public.

Further, to develop the company, the necessity to expand the mass production of Apple II became obvious. However, Jobs and Wozniak faced the same challenge they already had before, namely the lack of money. Initially, Jobs and Wozniak tried to raise interest of the computer company, where they previously worked, but without effect. Lack of support and difficulties in finding sponsors were founded on the lack of trust in the computer industry. At that time, most people used to think that PC was only a fun toy without any future. The venture itself was questionable from the commercial point of view. Nevertheless, due to his talent for persuasion, Jobs managed to captivate Mike Markullu, the entrepreneur who invested 90 thousand dollars of his savings into the young company. Later, Mike had introduced Jobs to more serious investors.

It is necessary to note that microprocessor 6502 of MOS Technology with a clock frequency of 1 MHz was the basis of the first model of Apple II. Basic working only with integer data was recorded in the non-volatile memory. The random access memory in 4K was easily expanded up to 48 KB. Information was displayed on the color or black-and-white monitor, working on system NTSC. The text mode was able to display 24 lines of text. 

For the first time, Apple II was shown at the first West Coast Computer Fair in April, 1977. Rob Yanov, a young artist, developed the famous emblem of Apple – a colorful bitten apple – according to Jobs’ order. The exposition attracted general attention and impressed the experts. It was located at the entrance, and the kaleidoscopic video show displayed excellent graphics capabilities of a new computer on the big screen.

Apple II was the first computer, which became popular and widely used by people of different professions. The most appealing feature of the new product to the audience was the ease of use. It was not necessary to possess deep knowledge of microelectronics or have particular expertise in the computer technologies to use it. What is more, knowledge of programming languages was also excessive. The PC users operated a small number of simple commands to communicate with Apple II. As a result, scientists and businessmen, doctors, lawyers, students, and housewives could easily use it. Subsequently, many models of the so-called 8-bit home computer were replicated by different manufacturers following Wozniak’s concept.

The first real mobile phone of Apple was the design of the mobile device in the form of an apple. In 1982, when it was created, it looked like an ordinary apple. It was not a fully-featured phone, but its design was elegant. Those years Apple tested the waters in different directions. But then the company had been brought to a stand for many years and did not come back to the phone theme.

Everything changed in 2000. Phones were at the peak of popularity, and the fact that this market will become dominant was also obvious. The first iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs in January 9, 2007. It did not officially have the service of short multimedia messages MMS because of its low popularity, but craftsmen managed to make an application for the transmission of MMS, which could be installed unofficially. Apple explained, “iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone. We are all born with the ultimate pointing device – our fingers – and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse”. 

Strengths and Weaknesses

However, it should be noted that there was one issue preventing the use of Apple II in business. Cassette and consumer recorders were a major drawback for early users of microcomputers. Numerous failures and repeated, slowly loading programs from the tape prevented businesses from using the machine in their operations. Therefore, it was necessary to find a better and more efficient solution. Due to the fresh outlook and creative thinking, the authors of the PC found a solution. Floppy drives had been used in large and mini computers for a long time. Thus, there was the need to find a way to use the drive in the microcomputer. In December 1977, when Marcella, the president of Apple, made a list of improvements to be implemented in the coming year, the word “floppy” was in the first place. 

Some owners of iPhone 4 complained about the defects of the screen, a fragile body and the low quality of signal reception. However, Steve Jobs reported the release of a new version of the operating system, which practically brought this problem to nought.

Thus, just in a few years the vision of computer technology has drastically changed. A microcomputer turned from programmer’s toys into a business tool of people of different professions. Computers have spread across the world in many copies and conquered their place on the tables of engineers, doctors, businessmen, scientists, teachers and students. The revolution of computer technology was made by Apple, one of the many pioneers of the microcomputer industry. The genius of its founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak raised the company above the general level of amateur developments in this area. Innovative approach, ability to predict the direction of the development of microcomputers and creative and fresh thinking allowed the company founders to make the right solutions.