June 5, 1977: The first Apple II, the personal computer that will put Cupertino on the map, goes on sale.
Previously shown off to a few thousand rabid fans at the West Coast Computer Faire, the Apple II’s arrival means the masses can finally get their hands on the breakthrough machine. A base unit costs $1,298 — the equivalent of $6,525 in 2023 money.
April 17, 1977: The Apple II debuts at the West Coast Computer Faire, positioning Apple at the forefront of the looming personal computer revolution.
The company’s first mass-market computer, the Apple II boasts an attractively machined case designed by Jerry Manock (who will later design the first Macintosh). It also packs a keyboard, BASIC compatibility and, most importantly, color graphics.
Fueled by some marketing savvy from Steve Jobs, the Apple II launch makes quite a splash at the San Francisco Bay Area’s first personal computer convention.
April 12, 1976: Apple’s third co-founder, a former Atari colleague of Steve Wozniak’s named Ron Wayne, cashes in his Apple shares for just $800.
Wayne, who owns a 10% stake in the company, throws in the towel after worrying that he doesn’t have the time or energy to properly invest in Apple. He later receives an extra $1,500 check to seal the deal. When he cashes it, he loses out on an investment that could have been worth billions.
“I was 40 and these kids were in their 20s,” Wayne told Cult of Mac decades later, referring to Wozniak and Steve Jobs. “They were whirlwinds — it was like having a tiger by the tail. If I had stayed with Apple I probably would have wound up the richest man in the cemetery.”
April 11, 1976: Apple releases its first computer, the Apple-1.
Designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, the computers are sold wholesale by “Steven” Jobs. To finance their manufacturing, Wozniak sells his HP-65 calculator for $500, while Jobs sells his VW van. Years later, in 2014, a working Apple-1 will sell at auction for $905,000.
April 4, 1975: Childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft Corporation, a software company destined to become a tech behemoth — and a major Apple frenemy.
A few years later, Microsoft will break through to the mainstream with Excel and Word, becoming a key developer of Macintosh software. Then comes the Windows operating system, looking suspiciously Apple-like. After Windows arrives, Microsoft and Apple will embark upon a long-running feud.
January 28, 1978: Apple Computer occupies its first custom-built office, giving the company a bespoke business center to house its growing operations.
A full 15 years before One Infinite Loop, and almost 40 before Apple Park’s stunning “spaceship” HQ landed, 10260 Bandley Drive — aka “Bandley 1” — becomes the first purpose-built, permanent headquarters for the newly founded company.
January 3, 1977: Apple Computer Co. is officially incorporated, with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak listed as co-founders.
Third founder Ron Wayne — who initially invested in the company — is not part of the deal, after selling back his stake 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 the company’s history.
January 2, 1979: Entrepreneurs Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston incorporate their company Software Arts to publish a little program called VisiCalc.
The first spreadsheet software for the Apple II, the $100 VisiCalc ultimately becomes personal computing’s first “killer app.” It helps transform personal computers from “cool to have” toys into “must have” business accessories.