With many of us in the Total office hotly anticipating the release of the Apple Watch this year, we look back to a pre-Beats, pre-pod and pre-internet date and review four developments I have personally found the most interesting during Apple’s nearly-40-year history.
With a reputation for innovation and cutting-edge trend appeal, it’s hard to believe that Apple started off producing hand-built systems in 1976, as ‘Apple Computer’. Both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were, in effect, college dropouts operating in a basement, but these ‘dropouts’ knew what the public wanted and knew how to build a computer. Co-founder and adult supervisor Ronald Wayne was also part of the company at this time.
Clearly their skills were far better utilised in the basement than could ever have been in college during this pre-tech era of opportunity. Their first computer, Apple I (pictured above, in casing), was hand-built by Wozniak, whilst Jobs elected the position of salesman, pitching the unique unit at $666 at the time. Wayne drew up the Apple I manual and also developed the first Apple logo. With potentially more to lose than Jobs and Wozniak, Ronald Wayne left Apple for fear of his assets being seized, selling his share for $800 in 1976.
During the first year, around 175 Apple I systems were sold. A tough pitch considering the unit didn’t come with a case, a power switch and transformer, keyboard or even a video display.
A year later, the Apple II looked more like a computer as we know it. All yours for $1,300 complete with a 16-colour screen, a whopping 48K RAM and a floppy drive. It was ready to use straight out of the box and described as user-friendly. The ‘hobbyist’ could purchase it as board-only, for just under $800. It is easy to see Apple’s trademark design even in this early model with the casing built of plastic – the first of its kind – built to pull apart very easily to enable expansion.
1993 saw Apple branch into portable devices, with the release of the Newton MessagePad100. Perhaps released a little too early for the general public, however rumour dictates that Apple’s Vice President at the time had made a bet with the press that, should the product not be released at MacWorld Boston, he would give up his wine cellar.
The personal organiser incorporated fax and email, along with task lists and appointments using the Newton Intelligence operating system, allowing the user to handwrite using a stylus (recognition, however, was a major problem), or use a keyboard. Despite improvements it didn’t really get the recognition it deserved at the time, however in hindsight and with the official product announcement incorporating “And wherever you go, the powerful, under-one-pound personal digital assistant goes too, tucked in your pocket or briefcase.”, Apple were clearly on to something.
It’s hard to believe that the first iPhone was only released in 2007 and is yet regarded as ‘vintage’. The ultra-stylish-at-the-time handset boasted a 2MP camera and the option of purchasing the 4GB, 8GB or 16GB versions. The ‘multi-touch interface’ (or ‘touchscreen’ as we now know and love it) allowed users to swipe and drag – although it wasn’t the first time this technology was deployed, the large touchscreen was unique and didn’t require a stylus and also featured an accelerometer.
Although none of these functions were unique to Apple, combining it in one highly stylised device created excitement. The original iPhone also brought about the ending of the physical keyboard era. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to the iPod, iCloud, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with the Apple Watch it is clear that despite the highs and lows of the Apple brand, they certainly know how survive the changes in the technology market; from fever-pitching product releases to firmly embracing the future of everything technology has to offer.
You can find out more about the Apple Watch via the official Apple Store.
Catherine Grayson is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.