Apple Computer Term Paper

Pages: 12 (5626 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

Apple Computer

About the Company

Apple Computer, Inc. is a Silicon Valley company based in Cupertino, California, whose core business is computer technologies. Apple helped start the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with its Apple II and shaped it in the 1980s and since with the Macintosh. Apple is known for innovative software and hardware, such as the iMac its iPod digital music player and the iTunes Music Store.

Apple has been criticized for their vertically integrated business model, which runs against the grain of much of the perceived wisdom of economists, particularly for the computer industry. However, the company is profitable. Other criticisms have included that it has been very personality driven, especially in the two different eras of Steve Jobs' tenure; some even regard it as being a cult, or at least having cult-like features. From a technical standpoint, Apple has also been criticized for having a closed and proprietary architecture with the original Macintosh, and a "not invented here" syndrome against adopting open standards.

However, that trend has been largely reversed with Mac OS X, and the company now has an official policy of adopting open industry standards where they exist. Apple has now used industry standard hardware technologies for many years, which has helped to lower prices significantly. Many Apple technologies have become industry standards where no former standard existed, e.g. ZeroConf network configuration, FireWire, etc. Other technologies, invented elsewhere, only gained wide industry acceptance after Apple adopted them, including 3-1/2-inch floppy disks, SCSI, USB, Wi-Fi and, of course, graphical user interfaces. Mac OS X itself is now based on an open source kernel and core operating system called Darwin. Apple also uses an open source HTML rendering engine in its Safari web browser.

Some third-party developers are also critical of the competing factions within Apple themselves, illustrated by the perception of an ongoing rivalry between the developers of Cocoa, which came from NeXT, and those of Carbon, which came from Apple. This rivalry is seen as counterproductive and unnecessary by many developers.

Apple's retail initiative has had a mixed reception. They have been considered a success in raising awareness of the Apple brand. Retailers have suggested that the Apple-owned retail stores have preferential treatment when receiving Apple hardware, and therefore receive limited stock product earlier, and at lower prices - an accusation that has been officially denied by Apple.

History

In 1975, Steve Wozniak was working Hewlett-Packard and helping his friend Steve Jobs, with whom he had been friends since 1971, design video games for Atari. Wozniak had seen a 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine on how to build your own computer terminal, and using off-the-shelf parts, Wozniak designed the Computer Conversor, a 24-line by 40-column, uppercase-only video teletype that he could use to log on to the minicomputers at Call Computer. New microcomputers such as the Altair 8800 and the IMSAI inspired him to build a microprocessor into his video teletype and have a complete computer.

When MOS Technology released its twenty dollar 6502 chip in 1976, Wozniak wrote a version of BASIC for it, then began to design a computer for it to run on. He completed the machine and took it to Homebrew Computer Club meetings to show it off. At the meeting, Wozniak met his old friend Jobs, who was interested in the commercial potential of the small hobby machines. Jobs approached Paul Terrell, the owner of a local computer store, the Byte Shop, who said they would be interested in the machine, but only if it came fully assembled, offering to pay $500 each for fifty machines. Jobs took the purchase order that he had been given from the Byte Shop to Cramer Electronics, a national electronic parts distributor, and ordered the components he needed to assemble the Apple 1 Computer, using the purchase order from the Byte Shop as collateral. Jobs, Wozniak, and their small crew spent day and night building and testing the computers, and delivered them to Terrell on time to pay his suppliers and have a tidy profit left over for their next order. Eventually 200 of the Apple I's were built. Steve Jobs had found a way to finance his soon-to-be multimillion-dollar company without giving away one share of stock or ownership.

Many of the design features of the Apple I were due to the limited amount of money they had to construct the prototype, but with the income from the sales, Wozniak was able to start construction of a very much upgraded machine, the Apple II. It was presented to the public at the first West Coast Computer Faire on April 16 and 17, 1977. The main difference internally was a completely redesigned TV interface, which held the display in memory. The Apple II included graphics, and eventually, color.

Building such a machine was going to cost a lot more money, and Jobs started looking for cash, but banks were reluctant to loan Jobs money. The idea of a computer for ordinary people seemed absurd at the time. Jobs eventually met Mike Markkula who co-signed a bank loan for $250,000, and the three formed Apple Computer on April 1, 1976. When Apple went public in 1980, the initial public offering (IPO) generated more money than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956, and instantly created more millionaires than any company in history.

With both cash and a new design in hand, the Apple II was released in 1977 and became the computer generally credited with creating the home computer market. Millions were sold well into the 1980s. A number of different models of the Apple II family were built, including the Apple IIe and Apple IIgs, which could still be found in many schools as late as 2005.

By the 1980s Apple faced emerging competition in the personal computing business. Chief among them was IBM, the first big name in computing. IBM's PC model, running DOS, was capturing a large share of the emerging desktop computing market in large companies. Several smaller businesses were using the Apple II, but the company felt it needed a newer, more advanced model to compete in the corporate desktop computing market. The Apple III had design problems and was expensive and, though the company introduced an updated version in 1983, the initial bad press discouraged buyers and left the III largely a failure.

Meanwhile, various groups within Apple were working on a completely new kind of personal computer, with advanced technologies such as a graphical user interface, computer mouse, object-oriented programming and networking capabilities. When they brought him to see the work being done at Xerox PARC on the Alto in December 1979, Jobs decided the future was in such graphics-intensive, icon-friendly computers. Over the objections of some PARC researchers, Xerox granted Apple engineers 3 days of access to the PARC facilities in return for selling them one million dollars in pre-IPO Apple stock (approximately $18 million net). The Lisa debuted in January 1983 at $10,000. Once again, Apple had introduced a product that was ahead of its time, but far too expensive (the company would continue to follow this pattern for the next few years), and Apple again failed to capture the business market.

The Apple Macintosh was launched in 1984 with a new, user friendly GUI. In anticipation of the Macintosh launch, Bill Gates, co-founder, chairman of Microsoft was given several Macintosh prototypes in 1983 for software development for the new computer. In 1985, Microsoft launched Microsoft Windows, its own GUI for IBM PCs using many of the elements of the Macintosh OS. This led to a long legal battle between Apple Computers and Microsoft, ending with an out of court settlement, which granted Microsoft access to, and allowed unlimited use of, the Macintosh GUI. Although the first version of Windows was technologically inferior to the Mac, a Windows-equipped PC clone could be purchased for much less. Also, because of the open nature of the PC platform there was always more software available for Windows.

The Macintosh, though a better product than the Apple II in many ways, did not quickly displace it in Apple's product line. They were separate, incompatible platforms, and Apple promoted them to different market segments: the Macintosh to colleges, college students, and knowledge workers, and the Apple II to homes and public schools. A few months after introducing the Mac, Apple released a compact version of the Apple II called the Apple IIc. In 1986 Apple introduced the Apple IIgs, a hybrid product with a mouse-driven, Mac-like operating environment. Apple II computers remained an important part of Apple's business, and were not discontinued until the early 1990s.

At the same time, the Mac was becoming a product family of its own. The original model evolved into the Mac Plus in 1986 and spawned the Mac SE and the Mac II in 1987 and the Mac Classic and Mac LC in 1990. In 1989 came the Macintosh Portable, a failure. Apple's much more popular laptop, the PowerBook, was introduced… [END OF PREVIEW]

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