Who Actually Invented Apple and When? A Detailed History

Apple is today one of the most valuable and influential technology companies in the world, producing iconic devices like the iPhone, iPad, Mac computers and Apple Watch. But the company had very humble beginnings, being invented by two friends working out of a garage in the 1970s. So who actually invented Apple?

The Meeting of the "Two Steves"

The two masterminds behind Apple were Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who serendipitously met in 1971. Jobs was only 16 years old while Wozniak was 21. They were introduced by their mutual friend Bill Fernandez, who shared their passion for electronics and playing clever pranks.

Wozniak, commonly known as "Woz," had demonstrated an innate talent for mathematics and the inner workings of electronics from a very young age. Though he pursued a degree at the University of Colorado and Berkeley, he did not complete his studies, instead preferring to learn hands-on by working at various Silicon Valley technology firms.

Jobs was more interested in the counterculture movement of the 1960s and exploring Eastern mysticism. But he also developed strong technical skills from his father, who taught young Jobs how to deconstruct and rebuild electronics in their family garage. This instilled confidence, determination and mechanical prowess in the intelligent but formally-educated Jobs.

When these two brilliant innovators crossed paths, they immediately bonded over their shared interests and formed a partnership that would shape the future of personal computing.

The Creation of the "Blue Box"

In 1971, Wozniak read an article in Esquire magazine about phone phreaking, describing how a device dubbed the "blue box" could make free long-distance phone calls by emitting certain audio tone frequencies. Inspired to test his engineering skills, Wozniak built his own blue box that worked perfectly.

Jobs took on the task of marketing the blue boxes to fellow pranksters and electronics aficionados. Thanks to Jobs‘ savvy salesmanship, they sold around 200 boxes at $150 each, splitting the profits. Their first business venture was underway!

Fun fact: Wozniak once used the blue box to call the Vatican, pretending to be Henry Kissinger wanting to speak to the Pope. However, a suspicious bishop called the real Kissinger to confirm!

Wozniak‘s Dream to Build His Own Computer

In 1975, the MITS Altair 8800 was released, considered the first personal computer that used the recently invented microprocessor. Wozniak had dreamed of building his own computer from a young age, and the Altair finally provided the practical opportunity. He immediately started planning and designing his own microcomputer with encouragement from members of the Homebrew Computer Club.

When Wozniak shared his ideas with Jobs, the two decided to go into business together and set up shop in Jobs‘ family garage in 1976, funded by Jobs selling his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak selling his beloved scientific calculator. Thus Apple Computer was born on April 1, 1976.

The Apple I and Apple II

The first product Wozniak and Jobs created was the Apple I, delivered as a fully-assembled circuit board incorporating a microprocessor, allowing owners to add their own case, keyboard and display. They managed to sell 50 Apple I computers to a local store, The Byte Shop, for $500 each.

Built on that initial success, in 1977 Wozniak engineered the Apple II, complete with a molded plastic case, color graphics capability, built-in keyboard and support for expandable RAM. This made the Apple II one of the first mass-market personal computers with appeal for the average consumer. It found widespread success in the emerging home computing market.

Early Successes and Jobs Forced Out

Riding high on the revolutionary Apple II, Apple Computer held an extremely successful IPO on December 12, 1980, giving it working capital to continue growing rapidly. By 1981, Apple was one of the fastest growing companies in America. Jobs also convinced former Pepsi executive John Sculley to come on board in 1983 as CEO, with Jobs serving as board chairman.

However, tensions between Sculley and Jobs mounted over differing business philosophies and perceptions of Jobs‘ management style. The board sided with Sculley in 1985 and voted to remove Jobs from his managerial duties at Apple. At age 30, one of Apple‘s inventors was out of the company he had founded.

Jobs‘ Work at Pixar and NeXT

While obviously upset over his ouster, Jobs quickly moved on to found a new computer company, NeXT Inc., focused on advanced workstation PCs for the higher education and research sectors. The slick, iconic design of NeXT computers and their advanced operating system (NeXTSTEP) won much praise in the industry.

Separately, Jobs purchased a majority stake in the computer graphics division of George Lucas‘ Lucasfilm in 1986, which later spun out as an independent company named Pixar. With funding solely from Jobs, Pixar pioneered computer animation technologies and evolved into a major Hollywood film studio, producing smash hits like 1995‘s Toy Story. When Pixar went public that same year, it made Jobs a billionaire.

So while away from the company he co-founded, Jobs was definitely still finding business and technology success.

Apple Struggles Without Jobs

Back at Apple in the early 1990s, the company ran into serious trouble. Efforts to update the dated Macintosh operating system failed and Apple racked up huge losses. With outdated products and plummeting sales, Apple resorted to licensing its OS software to other firms making Macintosh clones, angering loyal customers.

By 1996, with Apple lacking direction and bleeding cash, the board reached a pivotal decision – they would acquire Jobs‘ OS software firm NeXT for over $400 million. Jobs himself would return to Apple as a Special Advisor, essentially acknowledging they desperately needed his guidance and leadership.

The Triumphant Return of Jobs as CEO

In 1997, with Apple still struggling to implement a modern OS and make bold moves in the marketplace, the board removed CEO Gil Amelio and Jobs took over as Interim CEO. With his intense product focus, Jobs quickly forged a watershed partnership with long-time rival Microsoft to get badly-needed cash and technical support. He also launched the iconic "Think Different" ad campaign aiming to restore Apple‘s image as a revolutionary brand.

Most importantly, Jobs oversaw the development of the iMac, released in 1998. This breakthrough all-in-one desktop PC for the consumer market combined cutting-edge transparent "Bondi Blue" design with the tech sophistication required by creative professionals. The iMac‘s approachability, simplicity and fun was a breath of fresh air in computing, capturing people‘s imaginations. Strong sales growth soon followed across Apple‘s product lines.

Over the next decade and beyond, Apple introduced a string of smash hit innovations under Jobs‘ guidance, including the iPod digital music player in 2001, iTunes Music Store in 2003, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad tablet in 2010. Jobs also completely transformed Apple‘s struggling retail strategy with sleek Apple Stores providing superior customer service. The company‘s rest-is-history dominance was truly solidified during this period.

Jobs officially took the permanent CEO title again in 2000 and led Apple all the way until August 2011. Sadly, he resigned that CEO position in late August and passed away just a few weeks later on October 5th from complications of pancreatic cancer.

Wozniak‘s Many Post-Apple Ventures

Meanwhile, the other Apple founder Steve Wozniak left his regular engineering job at Apple back in 1985 (though remaining on the payroll sporadically in subsequent years). Post-Apple he first became heavily involved in philanthropic work related to education for children and providing computers + internet access to disadvantaged students or schools. To this day he dedicates immense time, effort and funds towards philanthropic causes close to his heart.

Wozniak has also invested in various tech startups over the past few decades and served advisory or board roles at companies keeping him engaged with the Silicon Valley ecosystem. Most recently in 2009 he took the Chief Scientist position at solid-state storage drive maker Fusion-io, staying there until its sale to SanDisk in 2014. And in 2021 he co-founded Efforce, a company focused on energy efficiency, sustainability and the emerging blockchain marketplace.

Steve Wozniak‘s estimated net worth today stands at over $100 million thanks to his fame,Apple stock holdings, investing experience and sheer business involvement over the years. Though unlike Jobs he has not pursued the limelight, Woz remains a revered technology legend.

Apple Continues Success Under Tim Cook

Following Jobs‘ passing, Tim Cook took over as CEO in 2011 to continue Apple‘s growth and success. Cook was already highly familiar with Apple operations and strategy, having served previously under Jobs as Chief Operating Officer. He also boasted experience as Compaq‘s VP of Corporate Materials and 12 years at IBM early in his career.

The company has thrived under Cook, with Apple‘s market value growing from $350 billion to about $2.5 trillion over the past decade. Major new product releases like the Apple Watch, AirPods, Apple services and ongoing iPhone model updates have bolstered Apple‘s dominance as the world‘s largest information technology company.

While no longer run day-to-day by either founding Steve, Cook‘s Apple retains and builds upon their innovative legacy. Few companies in history can rival Apple‘s level of influence on technology and even culture itself. And it all traces back to when two ingenious friends named Steve started tinkering with electronics together in a California garage.

So in summary – who actually invented Apple? Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak without question deserve joint credit as the original inventors of Apple 45+ years ago. Their alliance, skillsets and vision complemented each other perfectly to launch an iconic company that neither likely could have achieved alone. Though gone from this world, we have these two Steves to thank for the revolutionary technologies Apple unveils year after year!

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