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  • Writer's pictureLes Heintz

From Garage to Global Icon: The Evolution of Apple

In a garage in California in the mid-70's, three visionaries with a dream started a company that would change the world one key stroke at a time!

By: Les Heintz

It's amazing to think about where Apple Inc. started and where it is today.

In August 2018, Apple Inc. (AAPL) became the world's first company to record a market capitalization of $1 trillion and roughly two years later, became the first publicly traded U.S. company to surpass $2 trillion.1 As of March 15, 2021, Apple's market cap increased to $2.08 trillion.2 To put that staggering $2 trillion figure in context, we present five other huge things that the giant technology company is bigger than or comparable to in terms of value.

Only 7 countries have annual GDP figures greater than Apple's market cap. The nations with GDP figures immediately below $2.08 trillion are Italy, Brazil, and Canada.

Here is an historical timeline of how this amazing company built on great ideas came to be what it is today.

It was all driven by Steve Jobs, a man who vision seemingly gave him the Midas touch!

The Garage Genesis: 1976-1980

The story begins on April 1, 1976, when Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer, Inc. in the garage of Jobs' parents' home in Los Altos, California. For those of you do trivia night, the address was 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California.

When the Apple I made its debut, it wasn't just a circuit board; it was an idea taking root. Jobs and Wozniak envisioned a world where everyone could have their own computer, breaking down the barriers to technology. Little did they know that this simple idea would transform how we work, communicate, and express ourselves.


The pivotal moment came in 1977 with the launch of the Apple II, a fully assembled computer with color graphics and a keyboard. The Apple II's success established Apple as a player in the market and marked the birth of the personal computer industry.

The Macintosh Revolution: 1984-1990


The next milestone was the iconic Macintosh, introduced in 1984 with a groundbreaking TV commercial during the Super Bowl. The Macintosh featured a graphical user interface and mouse, making it more user-friendly than its predecessors.  Despite initial challenges, the Macintosh laid the foundation for Apple's commitment to innovation and design.

The Macintosh wins rave reviews but suffers disappointing sales.

In 1985, Apple closes half its six factories, sheds 1,200 employees (a fifth of its staff) and declares its first quarterly loss. Jobs loses a boardroom battle against John Sculley and is forced out of the company. The subsequent years saw a decline in Apple's fortunes as it struggled with product launches and a lack of clear direction.

In 1986, a year after his departure from Apple, Jobs buys the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd, the company owned by Star Wars director George Lucas, and founds what would become Pixar Animation Studios.

In 1988, Jobs founds NeXT Computer, but it was not a financial success, selling only 50,000 computers.

In 1995, with Jobs as its chief executive, Pixar releases Toy Story, the first full-length computer animated film, which is a worldwide box office smash.

A year later, with it's stock in decline, Apple buys NeXT for $429m and uses Jobs' technology to build the next generation of its own software.

The Return of Steve Jobs: 1997-2011


After Jobs' departure in 1985, Apple grappled with internal challenges, but the rekindling of its visionary flame came in 1997 with Jobs' return when he is named Apple's interim chief executive.

The "Think Different" ethos permeated the company, setting the stage for the iMac's debut in 1998. The iMac design, a self-contained computer and monitor, eclipses the clunky build of Apple's competitors. Jobs' commitment to innovative design redefined Apple's trajectory, laying the groundwork for the company's resurgence.

Digital Renaissance: 2001 Onward


The digital renaissance commenced with the unveiling of the iPod in 2001, a portable music player that not only transformed the music industry but marked Apple's expansion into digital entertainment. The subsequent launch of the iTunes Store in 2003 underscored Apple's commitment to providing seamless digital experiences.

In mid-2004, Jobs announced to his employees that he had a rare but treatable and curable form of pancreatic cancer.

Meanwhile by the end of 2005, Pixar, lead by Jobs, had become a giant in the world of movie animation, on the strength of its blockbuster hits Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003) and The Incredibles (2004). The Walt Disney Company, their longtime distributor, buys Pixar in the next year for $7.4 billion.

The pinnacle of Apple's innovation arrived with the iPhone in 2007, a revolutionary device that amalgamated a phone, music player, and internet communicator. This was a watershed moment, not just for Apple but for the entire smartphone industry.


The iPad, Apple Watch, and Beyond: 2010-Present

Apple's foray into new frontiers continued with the iPad in 2010, redefining the tablet market. The launch of the Apple Watch in 2015 marked the company's exploration of wearables, showcasing its adaptability and capacity for innovation.

In April 2009, Jobs underwent a liver transplantation at Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tennessee. Jobs's prognosis was described as "excellent".

The iPad is launched in April of 2010 and 3 million of the devices are sold in 80 days. Nearly 15 million iPads are sold worldwide by the end of the year. Apple's annual sales reach $65bn – a huge rise from $8bn in 2000. The iPad announcement the previous January would end up being one of Jobs last public appearances

On January 17, 2011, a year and a half after Jobs returned to work following the liver transplant, Apple announced that he had been granted a medical leave of absence. Jobs announced his leave in a letter to employees, stating his decision was made "so he could focus on his health".

In October of that year, Jobs died at his home in Palo Alto, California from complications brought on by his cancer. He was 56.

Legacy, Challenges, and Criticisms

As Apple stands today as a trillion-dollar entity, it remains a beacon of innovation. Yet, challenges persist. Criticisms regarding closed ecosystems, high product prices, and labor practices have prompted reflection. Antitrust scrutiny and privacy concerns underscore the complexities of being an industry giant.


The Fruits of Vision: Apple's Legacy and Future


Apple's legacy is not just one of corporate triumph but of visionary thinking. The seeds planted in a California garage have grown into a tree that bears the fruits of innovation and design excellence. The company's commitment to sustainability, privacy, and pushing technological boundaries reflects a dedication to creating products that transcend mere utility.

As Apple looks to the future, its legacy persists. Whether it's delving into augmented reality, artificial intelligence, or advancements in healthcare technology, Apple continues to shape the technological landscape. The roots of this tech giant may lie in a garage, but its branches extend across the globe, touching the lives of millions.


The history of Apple is not just a corporate saga but a testament to the transformative power of ideas. The confluence of innovative thinking and a changing technological landscape gave birth to a company that not only thinks different but shapes the future differently. From a garage in California to a global phenomenon, Apple's journey remains an enduring inspiration for those who dare to dream and disrupt.


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