History of the Apple Mac

Homepages of people who played an important role for Apple and the Macintosh:


'Homebrew and how the Apple came to be' -- an article by Steve Wozniak on atariarchives.org.

Interesting links about the Homebrew Computer Club can also be found on

THOCP -- the history of computing project; Steve Wozniak biography on this site.

apple-history.com -- a complete database of all Apple computer models, including pictures and technical data.

The Apple Museum -- a very good website which contains extensive material about all Apple Computer models (including the one I'm writing this page on at the moment ;-) and a detailed history of the company. Biographies of Wozniak, Jobs and Raskin can be found here.

Xerox PARC -- homepage of the Palo Alto Research Center, founded by Xerox Corporation in 1970.

An article by Jef Raskin about the creation of the Apple Macintosh. Highly recommended!

cupertino.de -- a German fan site about the history of Apple Computers.

Terascale Cluster at VirginiaTech -- the third fastest supercomputer in the world in 2004 was built out of 1,100 Apple Dual-G5 Macs (=2,200 CPUs).

An interview with Steve Wozniak can be found on slashdot.org.

Wizard of Woz -- an article about Steve Wozniak which was published in People Magazin in 1994.

How we failed Apple -- Woz about the company's trouble in Newsweek, 1996.



One more thing...

On his .Mac homepage Steve Jobs lists as his skills: "That "vision thing", public speaking, motivating teams, and helping to create really amazing products." If you ever watch one of his keynotes which he regularely delivers at Macworld Expos you'll probably agree with that: he's certainly the sort of guy who could sell a fridge to an Eskimo. Jobs is CEO of two very successful companies, Apple Computer and Pixar (Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo).

"When I was 23, I had a net worth of over a million dollars. At 24 it was over $10 million, and at 25 it was over $100 million.", Jobs once said. Due to his disagreements with John Sculley Steve Jobs left Apple in 1986; at this time Jobs owned about 6.5 million shares of stock (=11.3% of Apple Computer). Jobs sold all his Apple shares except one (so that he could still receive Apple's annual reports).

Bad timing, Steve: Apple's stock has never again traded as cheaply as when Steve Jobs sold his shares. He got in total about $70,5 million. "I'm the only person I know that's lost a quater of a billion dollars in one year... it's very character building", Jobs remarked.

Jobs invested in his next company -- which he named NeXT, Inc. In 1997 he sold NeXT to Apple and returned as Apple's interim CEO.

According to Forbes Steve Jobs had a net worth of $2.1 billion in 2004; he owns about 5 million Apple shares nowadays.

























































In 1971 Steve 'Woz' Wozniak designed a device called the 'Blue Box'. It allowed -- of course illegal -- phone

calls free of charge by faking the signals used by the phone companies. His friend Steve Jobs instantly realized that there must be a huge market for something that useful. He bought the parts for $40, Woz built the boxes and Jobs sold them to his fellow students at the University of California in Berkeley for $150. To demonstrate the 'product' to some students, Woz once posed as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and called the Vatican. Allegedly he played his role so well that they told him the pope was sleeping but if he requested they would awake him. Woz got nervous and hung up.


One of Wozniaks biggest dreams was that he wanted to have his own computer. In March 1975 the first meeting of the "Amateur Computer Users Group" - better known as the "Homebrew Computer Club" - took place in a garage in Menlo Park. The number of interested computer freaks quickly increased to several hundred and they moved their meetings to the auditorium of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Palo Alto. Woz and Jobs regularely attented these meetings and discussed with fellow computer nerds how to use chips and design boards and build computers. Woz, a true electronics genius, designed his own computer using a $20 MOS Technology 6502 processor. Contrary to all the other designs which circulated at this time, Woz computer had a standard QWERTY keyboard as an input device instead of eight little switches for each bit of a byte and it used a standard TV set for output instead of an expensive printer or monitor. Woz was 26 years old at that time.

Once again Steve Jobs realized the potential of Woz' computer: "Steve didn't do one circuit, design, or piece of code, but it never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said 'Let's hold them up in the air and sell a few', Woz recalled later. Woz worked at Hewlett-Packard at that time and Jobs was employed by Atari. First they tried to sell Woz' design to HP or Atari, but both companies declined. To scrape together the money to produce the printed circuit board, Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus for $1500 and Woz sold his programmable HP calculator for $250. It turned out to be a good investment.

Contrary to common belief, Apple Computer Company had not only two founders but three: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Gerald Wayne signed the partnership contract on April 1st, 1976. Wayne was 20 years older than Jobs and Woz and worked as video game maker at Atari. He created the original Apple Computer logo which showed Isaac Newton, sitting beneath an apple tree.

Ron Wayne soon realized that he "either was going bankrupt or the richest man in the cemetery", according to Owen Linzmayer's book Apple Confidential 2.0. Both Jobs and Wozniak had no money and Wayne knew that the contract imposed unlimited personal liability for any financial failure of the company. Therefore he left the company on April 12, 1976, less than two weeks after its founding. He couldn't know at this time that he 'walked away from half a billion dollars'.

The Apple I turned out to be a smash hit.

In 1977 the Apple II was introduced and the Apple I was discontinued about half a year later. The Apple II was another masterpiece of Steve Wozniak and a tremendous success for Apple. Woz and Jobs and a few other people involved with Apple became very rich in a very short time. Woz bought a turbocharged single engine Beechcraft Bonanza A36TC for $250,000 and got a Private Pilots Licence. With only 50 hours flight experience Woz crashed the plane due to a pilot error and was seriously injured as well as three of his friends which were on board. This scared him so much that he took an extensive leave of absence from Apple and did other things like e.g. organizing two rock music festivals on which he lost about $20 million but nevertheless considered them as very successful: "It's amazing that we were able to pull those festivals off and great fun was had by virtually all. I run into more people that thank me for those festivals than thank me for Apple. You had to be there to know how wonderful it turned out." When you read about Woz you'll get the impression of an amiable, generous and probably a little bit naive guy who just enjoyed electronics and having fun and never really was interessted in becoming rich. "A person like him shouldn't have that much money," said his father after finding $250,000 of uncashed checks lying around in his sons Porsche (which by the way had the licence plate 'APPLE II').

Following the Apple II a computer model named 'Lisa' was introduced, which was a disaster as it was way to expensive. It was an amazing machine, equipped with an operating system with windows and pull down menues and everything else Microsoft eventually copied from Apple. To be fair one has to mentioned that Apple also was 'inspired' by a machine named 'Xerox Alto', designed at Xerox Corporations Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC). If you're interested in this story I would like to recommend Owen Linzmayer's exellent book Apple Confidential 2.0 to you.

After Lisa failed, many people at Apple realized that they need a computer with all the user-friendliness and the neat features of Lisa at a much much lower price. This eventually led to the Macintosh.

One can often hear that the Mac was Steve Jobs idea. This is not true. In the beginning Jobs even tried to kill the Mac project. The real father of the Apple Macintosh is Jef Raskin. If you are interested in his version of the creation of the Mac, please read this article.

From Jobs point of view the Mac was a threat for his baby 'Lisa' (pun inteded, Jobs actually named the computer model after his first daugther Lisa!). "Lisa is going to be increcibly great", Jobs said, "It will sell twelve thousand units in the first six months and fifty thousand in the first year. We're prepared to live with Lisa for the next ten years." But it didn't work out. In total only 60,000 units were sold and Lisa had a live span of only two years. Jobs was furious. "You guys really fucked up. I'm going to have to lay a lot of you off", he said to the Lisa developers at Apple.

Soon he realized that the Mac project, which he was opposing so far, could indeed become the success he had hoped Lisa would become, so he tried to take over the Mac group. The Mac was basically Jef Raskins idea who was working with a small group on its design. Jef Raskin remembers: "[Jobs] would try to push himself into everything. No matter what you were doing, he had to have something to do with it. Nobody at Apple wanted him involved with their projects. I had started the Macintosh team and we didn't want him either. The standard way [Jobs] operated was picking your brain. He would immediately poo-poo the idea, then a week later, he'd come back and say, 'Hey, I've got a great idea!' The idea that he gave back to you was your own. We called him the Reality Distortion Field."

The product name "Macintosh" was invented by Raskin. He intentionally misspelled the name of his favourite Apple variety 'McIntosh'. When Steve Jobs asked venture capitalist Ben Rosen about his opinion concerning the product name 'Macintosh' he answered: "Throw $30 million of advertising at it and it will sound great".

-- Markus Ehrenfried