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History of Apple: how Apple came to lead the tech industry

Nik Rawlinson | Aug. 20, 2015
Our History of Apple begins with a look at Apple's not so humble beginnings, follow the Apple story with us.

Jobs decreed that every computer Apple produced from that point on should adopt a similar way of working. Speaking to Walter Isaacson some years later, he described the revelation as 'like a veil being lifted from my eyes. I could see what the future of computing was destined to be.'

The Lisa versus the Macintosh

It kicked off a race inside Apple between the teams developing the Lisa and the Macintosh.

The official line at the time was that Lisa stood for Local Integrated System Architecture, and the fact it was Jobs' daughter's name was purely coincidental. It was a high-end business machine slated to sell at close to $10,000. Convert that to today's money and it would buy you a mid-range family car. The project was managed by John Couch, formerly of IBM.

Jeff Raskin, meanwhile, was heading up development of the Macintosh, which had smaller businesses and home users firmly in its sights, and each team wanted to be the first to ship an Apple computer with a graphical interface.

Whichever team got their first, Apple - as a company - wanted them to do it at a price that wasn't prohibitively expensive, and that meant finding some cheaper solutions to the ones arrived at by Xerox. The Alto's mouse, for example, had three buttons and cost $300. Jobs wanted something simpler, and capped the price at $15. The result was the one-button clicker we still know and love to this day.

Jobs was so excited by the potential of the mouse and graphical interface that he got himself more and more involved in the Lisa's development, to the extent that he started to bypass the management structure already in place. The caused upsets, and in 1982 matters came to a head.

Michael Scott was Apple's president and CEO at the time, having been brought to the post by Mark Markkula (Apple employee number three, and investor to the tune of $250,000). The two men worked out a new corporate structure, which sidelined Jobs with immediate effect, and handed control of the Lisa project back to John Couch. Jobs, also stripped of responsibility for research and development within the company, was little more than a figurehead. That left him on the lookout for a new project.

Perhaps inevitably, he turned to the Macintosh.

Named in honour of Raskin's favourite edible apple (the McIntosh), the Macintosh had been in the works since 1979, so when Jobs joined the team it was already well advanced. That didn't stop him making extensive changes to the program, though, including the commission of a new external design and integration the graphical operating system. Raskin left the Macintosh team when he and Jobs fell out, and Jobs assumed control for the remainder of its development.


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