February 26, 2008: Less than five years after launching, the iTunes Music Store becomes the No. 2 music retailer in the United States, second only to Walmart.
In that relatively short period, iTunes sells more than 4 billion songs to more than 50 million customers. The rapid rise to prominence stands as a massive achievement for Apple — and for the revolutionary digital distribution model Cupertino helped pioneer.
February 21, 2007: Apple comes to an agreement with Cisco over the iPhone trademark, which Cisco legally owns but Apple wants to use.
Under the agreement, both companies get to use the iPhone trademark on products throughout the world. The two businesses also dismiss outstanding lawsuits against one another, and agree to “explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, and consumer and enterprise communications.”
It’s a classic bit of Steve Jobs steamrolling the opposition.
February 20, 2004: Music goes small as the iPod mini launch brings the reimagined digital audio player to Apple stores.
Released with 4GB of storage and in five colors, the diminutive device features a new “click wheel” that integrates control buttons into a solid-state, touch-sensitive scroll wheel. It also showcases Cupertino’s growing fascination with aluminum, which will become a hallmark of Apple design.
Despite its small size, the new music player’s market potential looms large. In fact, the iPod mini soon becomes Apple’s fastest-selling music player yet.
February 18, 2004: Steve Jobs sends an internal memo to Apple employees revealing that the company is, for the first time in years, totally debt-free.
“Today is a historic day of sorts for our company,” he writes. This marks a big turnaround from the bad old days of the 1990s, when Apple carried more than $1 billion in debt — and faced the danger of bankruptcy.
February 16, 2000: Apple introduces the “Pismo” PowerBook, the finest of its G3 laptops. In the view of many, it’s one of the best Apple laptops ever.
The Pismo PowerBook is the first not to include SCSI or an Apple Desktop Bus connector. Instead, it utilizes USB and Apple’s Emmy Award-winning FireWire. Optional AirPort wireless support, tremendous battery life and a gorgeous, curvy design just make it better.
February 5, 2008: Six months after the first-gen iPhone goes on sale, Apple releases a new version with a whopping 16GB of storage.
“For some users, there’s never enough memory,” says Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of worldwide iPod and iPhone product marketing, in a statement. “Now people can enjoy even more of their music, photos and videos on the most revolutionary mobile phone and best Wi-Fi mobile device in the world.”
February 4, 2008: Apple CEO Steve Jobs reportedly considers buying the search engine Yahoo. Apple is one of several interested companies, following reports that Microsoft offered $44.6 billion for the web portal the previous week.
Nothing ultimately comes of it, but Apple’s interest is later confirmed in an authorized biography of Jobs.
January 15, 2008: Steve Jobs shows off the first MacBook Air at the Macworld conference in San Francisco, calling the revolutionary computer the “world’s thinnest notebook.”
The 13.3-inch laptop measures only 0.76 inches at its thickest point and 0.16 inches at its tapered thinnest. It also boasts a unibody aluminum design, thanks to an Apple engineering breakthrough that allows the crafting of a complicated computer case from a single block of finely machined metal.
In a brilliant piece of showmanship during the MacBook Air launch, Jobs pulls the super-slim laptop out of a standard interoffice envelope. (You can watch his keynote introducing the MacBook Air below).
January 14, 2009: Steve Jobs’ cancer worsens to the point that he takes a medical leave from Apple.
Despite his illness, the CEO remains reluctant to take the time off. When he does, he keeps quiet about the severity of the situation. He calls “the curiosity over my personal health” a distraction caused by prying bloggers and reporters. Nonetheless, he acknowledges that his health problems “are more complex than I originally thought.”
January 13, 2000: Steve Jobs’ longtime frenemy Bill Gates steps down from his role as Microsoft CEO, a month after his company’s stock hits its all-time high.
The news coincides with a turning point in the long-running battle between the two tech powerhouses. Microsoft begins a long decline from its previous dominance, while Apple continues its rise to the top.
January 11, 2005: Steve Jobs introduces the iPod shuffle, an entry-level music player that lacks a display. The device randomly shuffles the audio files it holds, but lets users easily skip songs they don’t like.
The first iPod to use flash memory, the iPod shuffle plugs directly into a computer using USB 2.0 and comes in 512MB and 1GB configurations. Oh, and it’s smaller than a pack of gum — and weighs less than an ounce!
January 10, 2006: Steve Jobs unveils the original 15-inch MacBook Pro, Apple’s thinnest, fastest and lightest laptop yet.
Building on the previous PowerBook G4 laptop, the new laptop adds dual-core Intel processors for the first time. The MacBook Pro immediately makes waves in the tech community. And did we mention its awesome MagSafe connector?
January 8, 2004: The clumsily named iPod+HP, a Hewlett-Packard-branded iPod, debuts at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Shown off by Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the prototype device is blue, the color used for HP’s branding. By the time it arrives on the market later that year, however, the digital music player is the same shade of white as the regular iPod. The device doesn’t hang around for long, either.
December 28, 2006: As the rest of the country enjoys a much-deserved holiday, Apple gets embroiled in a stock “backdating” scandal.
The news, centered on the dubious awarding of stock options to Steve Jobs, prompts Apple share prices to fall. Some people even suggest Jobs might have to step down as Apple CEO. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen.
December 24, 2009: As rumors of a possible Apple tablet reach the boiling point, word spreads online that the new device will be called the iSlate.
The news is based on the fact that Apple quietly acquired the domain name iSlate.com a few years earlier. Since Apple did the same thing for the iPhone back in the late 1990s, years before the iPhone actually debuted, it makes total sense that the company would follow suit with the naming of its tablet.
December 23, 2005: Apple files a patent application for its iconic “slide to unlock” gesture for the iPhone.
At this point, the iPhone remains a secret research project. However, the ability to unlock the device by sliding your finger across it signifies Apple’s big ambitions for its smartphone. Cupertino wants the iPhone to be easy to use, intuitive and miles ahead of the competition technologically.
December 19, 2007: Apple settles a lawsuit with reporter Nick Ciarelli, resulting in the shuttering of Think Secret, his masssively popular Apple rumors website. Writing under the screen name Nick de Plume, the Harvard University student had broken a number of Apple stories on the site, which he launched in the late 1990s.
December 17, 2009: Apple finally triumphs over longtime rival Microsoft … on mobile operating systems market share. New data shows that iPhone OS surpasses Windows Mobile in the United States for the first time.
With roughly 36 million Americans owning smartphones, a quarter of them run Apple’s mobile operating system, according to figures released by research firm Comscore.
December 7, 2007: Apple opens its magisterial store on West 14th Street in New York City. The new Apple Store features a three-story glass staircase deemed the most complex ever made.
The store is Apple’s biggest in Manhattan (and second-largest in the United States, after the one on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue). The first three-story Apple retail outlet, it boasts an entire floor dedicated to services. It’s also the first Apple Store to offer free Pro Labs classes to customers.
The sheer size of this Apple Store — with its 46-foot Genius Bar — proves impressive. However, its astonishing spiral staircase steals the show as its most iconic design feature.
December 5, 2002: Cupertino says it served its millionth unique customer in the Apple Store online, marking a significant milestone for the company. It is a benchmark worth celebrating for Apple, which launched its online store just five years earlier.
“Reaching our 1 millionth customer is a major milestone, and is proof positive that our online shopping experience is second to none,” Tim Cook, Apple’s executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations at the time, said in a statement. “The Apple Store is a popular way for a growing number of consumers and businesses to buy Apple products, and with extensive build-to-order capabilities, easy 1-Click shopping and free shipping on orders, it’s never been easier to buy a Mac online.”