December 4, 1992: Apple engineers demonstrate a “proof of concept” of the Mac operating system running on an Intel computer.
More than a decade before Macs will switch to Intel processors, the astonishing feat is part of an aborted plan to make Apple’s software available on other manufacturer’s hardware. Apple ultimately chickens out, fearing (probably correctly) that this will hurt Macintosh sales.
November 21, 1985: Following Steve Jobs’ departure, Apple comes close to signing its own death warrant by licensing the Macintosh’s look and feel to Microsoft.
The deal, between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple CEO John Sculley, comes hot on the heels of the Windows operating system’s release. The pact gives Microsoft a “non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, nontransferable license to use [parts of the Mac technology] in present and future software programs, and to license them to and through third parties for use in their software programs.”
November 8, 1984: When initial Mac sales prove disappointing, Apple CEO John Sculley dreams up the “Test Drive a Macintosh” campaign to encourage people to give the revolutionary new computer a chance.
The promotional strategy advises people in possession of a credit card to drop into their local retailer and “borrow” a Macintosh for 24 hours. The idea is that, by the time potential customers need to return the Mac, they will have built up a bond with it and realized they can’t live without one.
While 200,000 would-be Apple customers take advantage of the offer, Apple dealers absolutely hate it.
October 21, 1991: Apple launches its PowerBook 100 series. The lightweight laptops quickly become one of the most important tech gadgets of all time.
These devices will almost single-handedly turn notebook computers into a mainstream technology. Apple’s subsequent success in this category — whether it’s the current MacBooks or even the rise of mobile devices like the iPhone — owes a huge debt to the PowerBook 100 series.
An incredibly rare Apple VideoPad 2 prototype is headed to auction after it was purchased from an Apple engineer back in 1999. It comes with a black leather carrying case that features the Newton logo, and is expected to fetch $12,000.
The VideoPad, which was scrapped by Steve Jobs upon his return to Apple in 1997, was a personal digital assistant (PDA) similar to the Newton that would have allowed users to carry out video calls. But it never made it to market.
October 19, 1992: Apple launches the Mac IIvx, the first Macintosh computer to ship with a metal case and, more importantly, an internal CD-ROM drive.
The last of the Macintosh II series, the Mac IIvx experiences one of the more notorious price adjustments in Apple history. Within five months of shipping, Apple slashes the computer’s launch price of $2,949 to $1,899. That’s one way to reward early adopters!
October 15, 1993: John Sculley, the CEO responsible for forcing Steve Jobs out of Apple, is forced to leave the company himself.
Following a terrible quarter, in which the company posted a 97% drop in earnings, Sculley steps down as Apple chairman. He takes $1 million in severance pay, a one-year consulting fee of $750,000, a commitment from Apple to buy his $4 million mansion and $2 million Lear jet, and $2.4 million in stock options. Total take: around $10 million.
September 16, 1985 and 1997: Twice on this day, Steve Jobs makes significant moves with regard to his career at Apple. In 1985, he quits the company he co-founded. Then, a decade and a half later, he officially rejoins Apple as its new interim CEO.
In terms of the emotions associated with those historic occasions, it’s hard to think of two more polarizing days in Jobs’ life.
August 14, 1991: As Apple and Microsoft head to court to battle each other, the tide begins to turn against Cupertino and its claims that Windows unlawfully copies the look and feel of Mac OS.
The case concerns whether key elements of Apple’s operating system are original enough for copyright protection. The decision turns out to be a major blow against Apple — and the start of the company’s 1990s decline.