November 10, 1983: Microsoft tells the world about an upcoming product called Windows that will bring the graphical user interface to IBM PCs. Although Microsoft’s announcement about the new operating system comes before Apple launches the Mac in 1984, Windows 1.0 won’t actually ship until November 1985, earning it a reputation as “vaporware.”
At the time, Apple doesn’t view Windows as much of a threat. That doesn’t take long to change, however.
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 24, 1988: Three years after leaving Apple, Steve Jobs prepares to launch the NeXT Computer, a machine he hopes will cement his reputation as a tech genius and blow away the machines produced by Cupertino.
The new NeXT Computer receives a wave of positive publicity. Fawning stories show exactly what the 33-year-old Jobs has been working on — and what’s coming next.
September 23, 1981: Years before Steve Jobs would tell us to “think different” and Tim Cook would say Apple should act as a “force for good,” Cupertino lays out what it calls its “Apple Values.”
Despite being written more than four decades ago, the values Apple viewed as crucial to its brand remain relevant today. They demonstrate that Apple always has been a company that’s about more than just selling computers.
September 20, 1989: Apple releases the Macintosh Portable, the first battery-powered Mac you could take on the road.
At a time when Tim Burton’s Batman is flying high in theaters, and Madonna is shocking audiences at the MTV Video Music Awards, this ahead-of-its-time product lays the groundwork for Apple’s looming laptop revolution.
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 little more than a decade 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.