Apple – inside loop history of first 40 years

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Apple 40 Years
Apple is celebrating its 40th birthday.

The fact that Apple, a big brand today, was formed by two guys in a Californian garage – may or may not be accepted, but what’s sure is that the leading computer-maker turned consumer electronics juggernaut has came up a long way ever since its inception.

After a long span of four decades since Steve Jobs and Steve Woznaik laid the foundation of turning computers into a portable tool that can be used by anyone, Apple has now became the legendary brand worldwide. It owns some of the most successful products ever made in the history of technology.

Having shaped a pool of industries, from computing to music, its former employees have made great efforts to bring new innovations and create new tech industries around everything from enterprise software to smart thermostats.

At its core, Apple has been into introducing innovative, easy-to-use products that you never knew you would ever want. Andy Hertzfeld, one of the early members of the Macintosh team that designed the system software, said that it was no less than love at first sight to see the Apple II at the inaugural West Cost Computer Faire in April 1977.

He added that he still gets the same enticing feeling by new Apple products. He added that it feels sad that Steve, one of the people to be thankful for, isn’t around here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the brand. He still lives on in Apple’s values and products, which will hopefully keep on expanding in the coming next 40 years and later.

On such a proud moment for the brand, other former executives of the Apple team and partners also shared their unforgettable memories with the company and Jobs, the one regarded as the founding element of the company and its big success.

The event saw many Apple associative, including former Finance Executives Debi Coleman and Susan Barnes, Ex-Apple Designer Clement Mok, Technical Visionary Alan Kay, Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki, and Jobs’ Marketing Mentor, Regis McKenna.

Here is a roundup of the experiences they shared and a glimpse inside the loop:

90 hours a week, still love it

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Apple tried to follow up the success of Apple II computer with the Lisa. Yet the initial Apple gained fame more from another computer, the Macintosh. Mac, which is known world-widely today, started as a research project back in the late 70s. It had only four employees that time before turning into Jobs’s pet project in 1981.

Tough competition was going on between Apple II, Lisa, and the Macintosh. Mac group flew pirate flag over its offices on the off-side retreat. The Mac team had gray printed hoodies reading, 90 hours a week, and loving it. It was in red and black font and recalled Coleman, who joined Apple in 1981, as the finance controller for the Mac.

The hoodie idea was a big hit. Almost every member of the Mac team, with approximately 100 people at a time, wore the trend. Coleman said that within just a week of coming back after the retreat, the Lisa team had also a shirt that read, ‘Working 70 hours a week, and shipping products’.

A week later, the Apple II team, which was the one making all the profits hand over fist, also brought a shirt that read, ‘Working 50 hours a week, and making profits’.

Coleman added that no one knew that the idea would act as a catalyst of a reaction across the whole Apple campus.

She became the head of Mac production in 1984 and stands as one of the top-ranking women in the tech industry till date. Coleman took over the designation of Apple Chief Financial Officer in 1986. During a November reunion of the women in the Mac team, Coleman credited a major part of the Apple’s success to Steve Jobs. She said that Jobs motivated the team at Apple to believe they could bring a change to the world.

Be like the Beatles

Mok, a designer at Apple hired for working on branding for the Mac launch, said remembering the moment that soon before planning to launch the Mac, Jobs wanted the product to – be like The Beatles, to feel and be like it, but only like the early Beatles.

He said that I along with Tom Hughes, the Creative Director at Mac, went blank over the idea of such a thing. They decided the concept meant that there was some specific rawness to the Mac, with a tinge of passion and artistry.

Mok said that the idea was an artistic statement of technology and it became a big hit.

He became the Co-manager of Apple Creative Services in 1985 and worked as creative director for corporate and the education market. If someone is to be credited for the iconic imagery of Apple in its marketing and packaging concepts, Mok is the name.

A new way

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Employees in the early period of Apple were mostly between their 20s and 30s, with great responsibilities on their shoulders. Susan Barnes, who joined the brand in 1981 as Financial Controller of the Mac division, shared that Jobs use to say, ‘we hire smart people to guide us what to do, not depend on us to be told what to do’.

Susan worked with Coleman in her early days at Apple and then later on used to directly report to Jobs for nearly a decade. She shared that at a point in early 1985 while still at Apple, on a Friday night Jobs called Coleman and Barnes to tell them that he wanted to buy a part of Adobe Systems.

Those days, Apple and Adobe were linked closely chipping away with developing desktop publishing technology. Barnes said that Adobe fonts and software was something Mac really needed in its initial stage. Laser Printing was something that brought Mac forward.

Apple finally invested a huge sum of $2.5m for a 19.99 percent share in Adobe in early 1985. Later in 1989, the company sold the shares, which were by then lowered by 16 percent, for $84m.

Barnes said that usually it’s so easy to stay behind when working in corporations. At Apple, the whole scenario is different. The idea is – No, it’s you. Let’s just do it. Find a way and don’t fear from the consequences.

Apple, a religion

Apple was sure that the success of the first ever Mac wouldn’t be complete unless there’s a software for it. The need for a developer to write software for the computer led to the joining of Guy Kawasaki, who became part of Apple in 1983 as the first Mac Chief Evangelist.

Kawasaki left Apple in 1987 to start his own venture, but returned as an Apple partner in 1995, when Apple was nearing its demise. What made him come back was the dreadful condition of Apple. It wasn’t easy to get people going interested about Apple again, but wasn’t impossible either.

There were some people throughout the time, who never lost their hope in Apple. Apple is a religion for them, said Kawasaki.

In 1985, when Jobs left Apple to start NeXT, a new computer company focused on workstations for universities, financial institutions, and other businesses. NeXT had intriguing software, though Windows computer use to prevail that time.

A new future

In the 70s, a legend of computing, Alan Kay, who worked at Xerox PARC, the Palo Alto California based research team, inspired the Mac User Interface and other initial Apple products. Kay joined Apple in 1984, just few months after the first Mac was revealed.

He use to say, the best possible way to predict the future, is to invent it. Kay memorizes Jobs dismissal by Apple’s board of directors and the way company strived to recover.

He said that it isn’t easy to remember what it took all of us and hardship to get back into the position we once stood and we always admired. The point was that Steve’s main consideration after coming back was to get Apple successful basically by selling the “sugar water” to the consumers (sarcastically as  John Sculley to leave working for Pepsi and help change the world ).

Funny to recall how things came out

During the foundation period, Jobs and Woznaik knew that there was a need for reasonable marketing and public relations help to launch the world’s first-ever personal computer. Inspired by Intel’s campaigns, they asked the chipmaker to tell who may work for it. Intel gave the name of Regis McKenna.

The long relation between Jobs and McKenna that lasted from 1976 till Jobs’s death in 2011 introduced so many changes, including the launch of Mac in 1984. Most of the people who were part of Apple’s early days never thought that the name would grow as big as it is today.

After all things started to get smooth as soon as Jobs came back, he said that it’s really funny to see how things have turned out. No one ever imagined that all effort, challenges, and concepts would come up like such a big success.

Will anyone be interested?

One of the biggest fears for the team was when the company launched its first Apple Store in McLean, Virginia. Ron Johnson, the company’s onetime Retail Chief shared the moment with the exact time – May 19, 2001, at 10 am.

The opening of the store started on a low, with just 50 customers hitting the store within the first half an hour. Jobs was worried about the sales but Johnson assured him that people would be interested and show up.

Soon enough, the number spiked to 1500 in the line. He said the entire experience was a real fun. Johnson shared that he told Jobs to create retail stores to promote innovation face-to-face with customers. With the launch of iPhone in 2007, Johnson saw the mission in action.

He said that the whole period highlighted Steve’s caliber at its peak. The brilliant product strategy wed the ability to communicate with an impeccable customer experience.

Aha Moment

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What sway has Apple had on society? You can see it when an 8-yr-old swipes at a microwave screen, bewildered that nothing happens. You can’t generally blame him. All things considered, we naturally utilize our fingers and commotions to control our phones and PCs, so why not different gadgets with huge screens!

That kid’s uncle, AT&T Vice Chairman Ralph de la Vega, can follow people’s dependence on fingers back to the first run through Jobs demonstrated to him the iPhone, which he calls his “the aha moment…the moment of clarity.”

He was one of the main people to see the gadget and needed to consent to a nondisclosure agreement, vowing not to inform anybody regarding the phone including the CEO and board of AT&T – or his wife.

De la Vega’s first question on seeing the iPhone was “Where’s the stylus?”

de la Vega said that the iPhone significantly changed how user interfaced with the gadget. It truly highlights how it changes the desires of individuals.

While there had been touchscreens before the iPhone, Apple was the first to demonstrate the advantages of jettisoning a stylus, a move that massively affected the tech business. Without Apple, we may all still be squashing physical buttons.

He added that Apple accelerated the pace so drastically that it changed everything.

AT&T turned into the primary wireless carrier to offer the iPhone, something that offered the carrier some assistance with attracting a large number of customers. What’s more, the iPhone has offered Apple great assistance with becoming the biggest brand on the planet.

On to the following 40 years.

More from Apple: Apple may launch two new ultra-thin MacBooks by Q2 2016

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Ankita Gairola is an R&D Engineer at NextGeekers. She grew up flirting with available technologies and happens to be a dynamic writer with flair of explaining complex technologies with ease to readers from all walks of life. A software and gadget geek, Gairola spends a major part of each day outscoring latest technologies, trying new software and reading books. She learned the ropes to effective writing in her very early days and has penned over 6000 articles for different press and media sources.