Apple's history is the stuff of investors' dreams and inventors' hopes. From its humble start in a garage in 1976, the company's initial public offering four years later was the biggest since Ford (F) shares started trading in 1956. This year, Apple became the second most valuable company behind Exxon. Today, Apple's (AAPL) must-have devices and broad following among consumers make it a key player in mobile phones, computers, tablets, digital music players, and digital media distribution. It wasn't always so. While the company's early computers, especially the Apple II line, brought the world of personal computing into offices, homes, and schools, there were more than a few bad apples. Even fans groan at the memory of the Pippin and the QuickTake camera. The Apple III and Lisa were personal computer bombs. Apple TV still hasn't quite caught on. Lately, however, the company has made few missteps. Its latest game-changer is the iPad, which made its debut in April 2010. The iPad may end the personal computer era that Steve Jobs helped introduce 30 years ago.

Apple Inc.

Apple's history is the stuff of investors' dreams and inventors' hopes. From its humble start in a garage in 1976, the company's initial public offering four years later was the biggest since Ford (F) shares started trading in 1956. This year, Apple became the second most valuable company behind Exxon. Today, Apple's (AAPL) must-have devices and broad following among consumers make it a key player in mobile phones, computers, tablets, digital music players, and digital media distribution. It wasn't always so. While the company's early computers, especially the Apple II line, brought the world of personal computing into offices, homes, and schools, there were more than a few bad apples. Even fans groan at the memory of the Pippin and the QuickTake camera. The Apple III and Lisa were personal computer bombs. Apple TV still hasn't quite caught on. Lately, however, the company has made few missteps. Its latest game-changer is the iPad, which made its debut in April 2010. The iPad may end the personal computer era that Steve Jobs helped introduce 30 years ago.

Apple Inc.

Apple's Greatest Hits and Misses

A History of Apple
A History of Apple

Apple's history is the stuff of investors' dreams and inventors' hopes. From its humble start in a garage in 1976, the company's initial public offering four years later was the biggest since Ford (F) shares started trading in 1956. This year, Apple became the second most valuable company behind Exxon. Today, Apple's (AAPL) must-have devices and broad following among consumers make it a key player in mobile phones, computers, tablets, digital music players, and digital media distribution. It wasn't always so. While the company's early computers, especially the Apple II line, brought the world of personal computing into offices, homes, and schools, there were more than a few bad apples. Even fans groan at the memory of the Pippin and the QuickTake camera. The Apple III and Lisa were personal computer bombs. Apple TV still hasn't quite caught on. Lately, however, the company has made few missteps. Its latest game-changer is the iPad, which made its debut in April 2010. The iPad may end the personal computer era that Steve Jobs helped introduce 30 years ago.

Apple Inc.
Apple I
Apple I
Launched: July 1, 1976
Specs: 4 KB memory, 1 MHz processor

When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone in 2007—above, beneath a photo of himself and Steve Wozniak with an Apple I—he said it was as revolutionary as the first Apple Computer. Only a few hundred of those computers were produced. They became obsolete less than a year later, when the Apple II came out. Today those computers are collectors' items. One sold at a Christie's auction for $210,000 in October 2010, according to the BBC.
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The Apple II
The Apple II

Steve Jobs, engineer and co-founder of Apple Computer Inc, at the first West Coast Computer Faire, where the Apple II computer was debuted, in Brooks Hall, San Franciscoin April 1977. Photographer: Tom Munnecke/Getty Images

Apple II Variations
Apple II Variations
Launched: Apr. 1, 1977
Specs: 4 KB memory, 1 MHz processor

Seemingly endless variations on the Apple II platform—Plus, EuroPlus, J-Plus, Apple III, IIe—formed the bulk of Apple's profits for more than a decade. The last version was discontinued in 1993. Above is one of Apple's first investors and its second chief executive officer, now obscured in Steve Jobs's shadow: Finnish-American businessman Mike Markkula.
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Apple III
Apple III
Launched: Sept. 1, 1980
Specs: 128k memory, 2 MHz processor

Launched as a business product, the Apple III did not challenge IBM's (IBM) dominance as was intended. Many of the models were recalled for heating problems. The commercial failure did not stop a blockbuster initial public offering for the rapidly growing company. Steve Jobs's stock became worth $217 million on the first day of trading. This was the biggest IPO since Ford's (F) in 1956.
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Apple Lisa
Apple Lisa
Launched: Jan. 1, 1983
Specs: 1 MB memory, 5 MHz processor

A groundbreaking computer at the time, it was built for the office and saddled with a $10,000 price tag. The Lisa did not sell well. The remaining models were eventually dumped in a landfill for a tax write-off.
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Macintosh
Macintosh
Launched: Jan. 24, 1984
Specs: 128 KB memory, 8 MHz processor

Apple announced its new Macintosh computer with a legendary ad that aired only once, during the Super Bowl in 1984. The spot featured a woman throwing a hammer at a giant screen amid a dystopian future as a voice read: "On Jan. 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh and you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."
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With the Competition
With the Competition

Jobs answers a question while sitting next to his Microsoft counterpart Bill Gates at an interview in New York, 1984. Photographer: Andy Freeberg/Getty Images

Macintosh II
Macintosh II
Launched: Mar. 2, 1987
Specs: 1 MB memory, 16 MHz processor

Apple's then-CEO John Scully, posed (above) with the new Mac in 1987. Scully led Apple through a decade in which sales rose from $800 million to $8 billion, according to The New York Times.
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Macintosh Portable
Macintosh Portable
Launched: Sept. 20, 1989
Specs: 1 MiB memory, 16 MHz processor

Although critics generally liked it, a 16-pound portable is hard to imagine these days. At around $6,500, the price tag was on the heavy side, too. Consumers responded accordingly and the Macintosh Portable went down like a lead balloon.
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Macintosh Classic
Macintosh Classic
Launched: Oct. 15, 1990
Specs: 4 MB memory, 8 MHz processor

The Classic wasn't all that different from the Macintosh Plus and Macintosh SE but was the first Mac that retailed for less than $1,000. The computer sold well in educational circles and to consumers who wanted computers for little more than the basics: word processing and spreadsheets.
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PowerBook
PowerBook
Launched: Oct. 21, 1991
Specs: 2 MB memory, 16 MHz processor

Considering the failure of the Macintosh Portable, the PowerBook—introduced only two years later—was an unlikely success with critics and consumers. The PowerBook line continued for 15 years until 2006, when the final version was discontinued and replaced by MacBook Pro.
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Newton Message Pad
Newton Message Pad
Launched: Aug. 16, 1993
Specs: 2 MB memory, 16 MHz processor

The Newton was one of the earliest PDAs (personal digital assistants) to be released. But the bulky, heavy devices were saddled with software that was at best, clunky. They were quickly overtaken by the speedier Palm Pilots. An episode of the Doonesbury strip famously took the Newton to task on its handwriting recognition capabilities: The phrase "catching on?" is rendered by the comic Newton as "egg freckles?"
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Power Macintosh
Power Macintosh
Launched: Mar. 14, 1994
Specs: 8 MiB memory, 60 MHz processor

The first Apple computer with a PowerPC processor, known as Power Macintosh (and later Power Mac) was launched in spring 1994. The line's last entry, the Power Mac G5 (above), was launched in 2003 and discontinued in August 2006.
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Power Macintosh G3 and PowerBook G3 (Beige)
Power Macintosh G3 and PowerBook G3 (Beige)
Launched: Nov. 10, 1997
Specs: 32 memory, 233 MHz processor

In January 1997, Apple's then-CEO Gil Amelio announced a first-quarter loss of $700 million. A recently returned Steve Jobs would soon be selling company shares as the stock price fell, even as he worked behind the scenes to get the board to fire Amelio. Within months, Jobs was named interim CEO at the struggling company and slashed the total number of projects Apple was working on from some 350 to 10. Above, Jobs spoke at a press conference on the day the G3 line was launched. BusinessWeek noted: "As fix-it strategies go, this one is bold."
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IMac G3
IMac G3
Launched: Aug. 15, 1998
Specs: 32 MB memory, 233 MHz processor

After the company had spent more than a year in the red, Steve Jobs announced in January 1998 that Apple had returned to profitability. The iMac was previewed in May and released that August. The new computer heralded the end of floppies and the beginning of a networked world. Two million sold in two years. In November, a Fortune article stated the obvious: "A year and a half ago, Apple had no future; now it does."
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Power Macintosh G3 (Blue-and-White)
Power Macintosh G3 (Blue-and-White)
Launched: Jan. 5, 1999
Specs: 64 MB memory, 300 MHz processor

The redesigned line of Power Macintosh G3 computers was sufficiently distinct from the beige version of the computers released under the same name in 1997 that the blue-and-white version essentially represented a new line.
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IBook
IBook
Launched: July 21, 1999
Specs: 32 MB memory, 300 MHz processor

Called an "iMac to go," the iBook was an immediate success. Time called Jobs a hero on the scale of Odysseus and Simba from The Lion King. The article read: "Apple products dazzle by giving us what we didn't know we wanted but suddenly can't live without."
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IPod
IPod
Launched: Oct. 23, 2001
Specs: 5 GB storage

As Apple was developing and releasing a suite of software for the digital consumer—iMovie, iTunes, iDVD, and iPhoto—the company released the first iPod. It was compellingly designed, with 5GB of storage, a fast FireWire connection, and seamless connection to iTunes. It wasn't the first—or last—Apple gadget that consumers lined up to buy.
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ITunes Store
ITunes Store
Launched: Apr. 28, 2003
Specs: 10 billion songs downloaded by February 2010

In April 2003, Apple unveiled the iTunes Music Store and sold five million songs in eight weeks. Above, Steve Jobs launched the store in the U.K. in June 2004. By that time, 700,000 songs were available for download.
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Shuffle and Nano IPod
Shuffle and Nano IPod
Launched: Sept. 7, 2005
Specs: 2 GB storage

Steve Jobs launched the Shuffle and Nano versions of the iPod with musician John Mayer, above. More than one million Nanos sold in the first 17 days after launch, helping Apple to its first yearly profit exceeding $1 billion, according to eweek.com. Earlier it appeared that Jobs's health concerns were behind him when he told students in a commencement speech at Stanford University that his brush with cancer had been "the closest I have been to facing death."
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Apple TV
Apple TV
Launched: Jan. 9, 2007
Specs: 258 MB memory, 1 GHz processor

Apple TV's first iteration came as a play on the Mac Mini that attached to a TV, originally offering either 40 GB or 160 GB of storage. The current version acts purely as a streaming device to deliver content. Something of an afterthought for Apple in terms of sales, Apple TV was rendered even less prominent when it was announced on the same day as the iPhone.
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IPhone
IPhone
Launched: Jan. 9, 2007
Specs: 128 MB memory, 620 MHz processor

When Steve Jobs took the stage to show off the new iPhone, he announced that Apple was dropping "Computer" from the company's name "to reflect the product mix that we have today." In closing, he said the iPhone would prove revolutionary on the scale of the first Mac in 1984 and the iPod in 2001. He was right. In the first year, customers bought 1.4 million iPhones and Apple swiftly gained market share with the release of further models.
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App Store
App Store
Launched: July 10, 2008
Specs: 10 billion downloads announced in January 2011

With the success of the iPhone, it shouldn't have come as much a surprise that an online store for apps serving the device would be popular. Still, the results were stunning. Launched on the same day that the iPhone 3G was released in July 2008, the store logged 10 million downloads on the first weekend. As the number of apps grew on such varied platforms as the iPod Touch, iPad, and Mac, the cash proceeds increased. Apple takes 30 percent of a given app's sale price, while developers get the rest.
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His Battle With Cancer
His Battle With Cancer

In this composite photo, Jobs is seen delivering keynote addresses on September 9, 2008 in San Francisco, California (left) and October 12, 2005 in San Jose, California (right). Jobs announced today that he is battling a hormone imbalance that is responsible for a drastic loss in weight. Jobs, a survivor of pancreatic cancer, said he will continue his role as CEO of Apple as he undergoes treatment. On August 24, 2011, he resigned his position as CEO, saying he could no longer meet his duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

IPad
IPad
Launched: Apr. 3, 2010
Specs: 256 MB memory, 1 GHz processor

At first some critics panned the iPad as little more than a larger version of the iPhone. Sales of 7.3 million iPads during the quarter after the devices went on sale soon had pundits wondering how long the PC would last.
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IPad 2
IPad 2
Launched: Mar. 3, 2011
Specs: 512 MB memory, 1 GHz processor

In classic Apple fashion, the second generation of the iPad refined the original without diverging from its core idea. The iPad 2 slimmed down, powered up, and added front and back cameras to enable video chat. The latest version may sell well as a business tool: Apple has said that more than 65 percent of Fortune 100 companies are testing or deploying the iPad, according to Bloomberg.
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