How Apple became one of the largest companies in the world

Apple (AAPL) is one of the most famous companies in the world. With the market well valued at well over $2 trillion, after briefly touching $3 trillion last year, its hardware has gone global; Used everywhere from Alaska to Zimbabwe. From the advent of the personal computer, to the dark days following the impeachment of Steve Jobs, to the unprecedented success of the iPhone, Apple is easily one of the largest and most successful companies on earth. Here’s how the tech giant made it all happen.


Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded Apple in 1976. Shortly after the company was founded, Wayne sold his 10% stake, leaving Jobs and Wozniak.

Wozniak created Apple’s first device, the Apple I, by hand building the original device with a wooden casing as a computer.

The Apple II, also designed by Wozniak, was launched a year later, and was a much more commercial success. It was a self-contained system with a plastic case and keyboard. However, it was the spreadsheet application VisiCalc running on the Apple II that helped make it a must-have for businesses and business users alike.

In 1980, Apple released the Apple III, the first computer not designed by Wozniak. The computer had a range of issues, including heating issues that caused the solder on the motherboard to melt, and chips to come out of their sockets. Jobs later described the losses from the Apple III as “countless”.

Then Apple started working on Lisa and Macintosh, both of which use graphical user interfaces. Lisa’s plane landed in 1983, but failed due to its $10,000 price tag. However, the $2,495 Macintosh hit the market, heralding the era of modern personal computing.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc, gives the keynote at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, June 6, 2011. REUTERS / Beck Diefenback

Wozniak and Jobs are leaving

Apple’s first CEO was Michael Scott, who came from National Semiconductor in 1977. Mike Markula, Apple’s first investor and third employee, took over from Scott in 1981, and led the company until 1983.

That year, Jobs pitched then-CEO of PepsiCo, John Sculley, becoming the CEO of Apple by asking him if he wanted to sell sweetened water for the rest of his life, or change the world. Scully and Jobs got it right at first, but their relationship soon soured, and in 1985, Jobs tried to oust Scully.

The move backfired, and Apple’s board moved Jobs to the position of president, away from the working position he wanted. He then left Apple and founded NeXT Computer Company.

Wozniak left the same year, having become frustrated with his hiatus as an engineer. He sold a lot of his inventory on his way out.

group of CEOs

Scully led Apple from 1983 until 1993, raising the company from its $569 million annual revenue to $8.3 billion. But the board later fired him, blaming him for moving Apple computers to PowerPC chips instead of Intel processors and the failed launch of the Newton PDA.

The company handed the reins over to Michael Spindler, who held that position until 1996, and oversaw the company as it licensed OS 7 to other PC manufacturers who made a few copies of the Mac. However, these systems lowered Apple’s prices and ate its bottom line.

In 1996, Gil Amelio became CEO and bought Steve Jobs’ NeXT for $400 million to use that company’s operating system in Apple computers. However, the following year, as Apple’s losses continued to mount, Amelia was fired and Jobs was appointed interim CEO of Apple.

Tim Cook arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party during the 94th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California, US, March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Danny Molochuk

Tim Cook arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party during the 94th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California, US, March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Danny Molochuk

The return of Steve Jobs and the revival of Apple

Returning to the company he helped create, Jobs reduced products and projects with the goal of returning the company to profitability. Jobs continued to lead Apple through a period of significant growth with the introduction of the iMac, Mac OS X, iPod, and iTunes all-in-one computers.

In 2007, Jobs launched the company’s crown jewel: the iPhone. The following year, Jobs announced the App Store, and later launched the iPad. Jobs also oversaw the launch of the MacBook Air, which revolutionized the design and construction of laptops and computers.

However, Jobs also struggled with pancreatic cancer later in his career, and at times had to hand the company over to Tim Cook, while he searched for a cure. When Jobs died of illness in 2011, Tim Cook took over as CEO.

trillion dollar company

Cook oversaw Apple’s ongoing expansion with new products ranging from a slew of iPhones to iPads, and entry into new business categories including smartwatches, wireless earbuds, and subscription services like Apple Music+, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade.

After 42 years in business, Apple’s market cap crossed the $1 trillion mark in 2018. Two years later, Apple’s market cap crossed over $2 trillion. And in January 2022, the iPhone maker became the first publicly traded company with a market capitalization of over $3 trillion. While it has declined since then, analysts are already predicting when Apple will reach $4 trillion.

In the years since its founding, Apple helped launch the computer revolution, the explosion of digital music and ushered in the era of smartphones. In its wake, it left behind fewer competitors who simply could not match its products or stay in power. Not bad for a company that started in a garage.

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