Today in Apple history: Apple becomes a corporation

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Apple was incorporated 40 years ago today.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac/401Calculator

Jan3January 3, 1977: Apple Computer Co. is officially incorporated, with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak listed as co-founders.

Third Apple founder Ron Wayne — who initially invested in the company — is not part of the deal, after selling back his share in Apple for $800. The funding and expertise needed to turn Apple into a corporation is provided by a man named Mike Markkula, who becomes an important figure in Apple history.

But didn’t Apple celebrate its 40th birthday last year?

Yes, it did. Apple was originally established on April 1, 1976 to sell the Apple-1 computer, which went on sale for $666.66 in July 1976.

However, despite today being the most expensive personal computer of all time, due its scarceness and historical value, the Apple-1 wasn’t a big hit. Only a small production run was ever made and, compared with later machines Apple would make, it was not noticeably ahead of the competition.

Add that to the fact that personal computers were only of interest to a tiny group of hobbyists, and you have a computer that would be forgotten about today — were it not for Apple’s later success.

What was different was the Apple II. Apple’s first true mass-market computer, the Apple II shipped with a keyboard, BASIC compatibility and, most notably, color graphics. It later augmented this with great peripherals like the Disk II 5 1/4-inch floppy drive, and superb software ranging from games to productivity tools like VisiCalc.

To get the Apple II manufactured, though, required a lot more money than Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak had. This is where angel investor Mike Markkula came into the picture. Markkula had made millions on stock options he’d acquired as a marketing manager for Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. These allowed him to retire at age 32.

Markkula was introduced to Jobs by marketing whiz Regis McKenna and venture capitalist Don Valentine. In November 1976, he agreed to help Jobs and Woz create a business plan for Apple, which involved sales growing to $500 million within a decade. He invested $92,000 of his own cash, and helped set up a quarter of a million dollars’ credit with the Bank of America.

Incorporating the business was next, and took place on January 3, 1977. Apple Computer Co. then bought out the earlier Apple partnership for $5,308.96. The following month, Apple’s first CEO, Michael Scott, was brought in to manage the company, at a salary of $26,000 per year.

The stage was all set for Apple to launch the Apple II later in 1977.

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