Don't know how I missed it, but Daring Fireball noted that Dec. 20 marked the 10-year anniversary of the day that Apple Computer acquired NeXT and links to the letter from then-CEO Gil Amelio to customers concerning the deal. This was the moment, that gave Apple the dramatic turn of events and change in management that it ultimately needed to survive. Steve Jobs returned.

The rest you know. Steve convinced the board to oust Amelio. Then came the iMac, the iCEO era, iTunes, the iPod, the iTunes Store. It's one of the greatest turnaround stories in the history of American industry.

It's telling to look back a decade and see how things have changed. As it happens, on the day before, Dec. 19, 1996 Apple filed its 10K with the SEC for the fiscal year 1996. Sales were $9.8 billion, 11% from the prior year, and the bottom line showed a loss of $816 million down from a $424 million profit the year before. It had about $1.7 billion in cash and $949 million in long term debt.

Also from the report: "During the last nine months of 1996, the Company experienced a significant decline in net sales, units shipped, and share of the personal computer market. ... This decline was a result of a decline or lack of growth in worldwide demand for all product families which the Company believes was due principally to customer concerns regarding the Company's strategic direction financial condition, and future prospects...."

I'll be eager to compare those figures to the 10K for the 2006 fiscal year that's expected tomorrow, but I'll primarily be focused on it for other reasons.

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