Happy Birthday to Apple! It's no joke -- Steves Wozniak and Jobs formed Apple Computer on April Fools' Day, 1976. To celebrate, here are 10 facts about the company you either love or loathe.
2. Apple.com was registered as a domain name on February 19, 1987, which makes it one of the first 100 companies to ever register a .com address.
3. Why "Apple"? The answer is a pretty business-savvy one: because the frontrunner in computer technology at the time was Atari, where Jobs had once designed video games. Because "ap" comes before "at," people looking for computers would find "Apple" before "Atari" in the Yellow Pages. But really, the story of how Apple got its name changes depending on what source you read. Other books about the company will tell you that Jobs once worked a summer job at an apple orchard and loved it; another tale is that he admired the Beatles' Apple Corps.
4. With the wild success of virtually every product Apple has launched in the past five to 10 years, it's easy to forget that they've had their share of massive flops as well. Among them are 1993's Apple Newton (AKA MessagePad), a PDA that cost $1,000 and wasn't very portable; 1983's Apple Lisa, a nearly $10,000 personal computer (that's about $22,000 today); and the Apple Pippin, a machine that was supposed to compete with the Sony Playstation and Nintendo 64. A mere 42,000 units were sold before the product was discontinued.
5. The iPod wasn't their idea. When they were sued by patent holding company Burst.com in 2007, Apple pointed out that a similar handheld music device was patented way back in 1979 when Apple itself was a mere three years old. Kane Kramer, the inventor, called it the IXI. It could only hold 3.5 minutes of music, but it was definitely the precursor to the iPod. He needed to renew the patents in 120 countries in 1988 and was unable to come up with the funding to do so, so the technology became public domain. That's where Apple jumped in, but by the time the first iPod was released in 2001, technology had grown from allowing 3.5 minutes of music to putting "1,000 songs in your pocket."
6. Apple's first employee was user interface architect Bill Fernandez, who was assigned employee number four (after the Steves and Ronald Wayne). He was hired when Apple was incorporated in 1977. He stayed with the company for a number of years, working on both the Apple I and Apple II.
7. The famous "1984" Apple commercial was directed by Ridley Scott. If he had known Russell Crowe at the time, I'm sure we would have seen him running in tiny red shorts and hurling a hammer at Big Brother instead of athlete and model Anya Major. The Steves both adored the commercial; the Apple Board of Directors hated it. Wozniak offered to personally fund the Super Bowl spot himself if the Board refused to support it. I'm sure you've seen the iconic ad, but in case you want a refresher, here you go:
8. Even after Apple was named a Fortune 500 company, it was pretty common to see Steve Jobs wandering around the building barefoot.
10. Next up for Apple? In late 2010, we can look forward to a cartoon on Cartoon Network's AdultSwim featuring the Steves as superheroes. The duo will voice their own characters and Bill Gates has already agreed to a guest appearance.
Yeah. April Fool on the last one. But I'd totally watch that.
So, are you a Mac or a PC?