Apple history: 15 billion years and counting

Editor’s Note : With the celebration of Apple’s 30th anniversary wrapping up, it seems like the perfect time to take one last look back at the company’s storied history. Now, anyone can put together a timeline that tells you what year certain Macs were released or which kitty code-named version of OS X came out when. But Apple’s 30th anniversary demands a concerted effort from a reporter not afraid to dig deep to discover the untold story of Apple’s history. Sadly, none of those reporters were available, so Macworld turned the project over to the editor of Crazy Apple Rumors Site instead. Here are some key moments in the history of your favorite fruit-themed technology company as best he could remember them.

4-15 billion years ago: The universe, galaxy, and solar system are formed, and the Earth begins to cool, forming the rocks that will one day inhabit Gil Amelio’s head.

1 Million BC: Space aliens arrive on Earth and leave a vast array of technological marvels in a cache in the Nevada desert. Instead of a curse, the entrance is engraved with a complicated end-user license agreement.

On second thought, maybe those really aren’t that different.

4,400 years BC: Eve is tempted in the garden of Eden and takes an apple from the serpent.

4,397 years BC: Eve’s extended AppleCare warranty runs out. A day later she begins to hear fan noise.

1666: Sir Isaac Newton is struck upon the head by a falling apple and discovers gravity. Later the same day, he files the first lawsuit against Apple, but is told he will have to wait another 310 years.

1942: The cache of technology in the Nevada desert is discovered, setting the computer revolution in which Apple will play an integral part into motion. Government researchers immediately begin working on digital porn.

1955: Steven Paul Jobs is born in San Francisco, Calif. Several minutes later he angrily conducts his first firing when his mother’s obstetrician suggests Jobs be bottle fed.

1968: The Beatles form Apple Corps to sell records. Says Ringo Starr at the time: “It’s my belief that this will put us in a strategic position to one day distribute music through a global computer network that does not yet exist.” Unfortunately for Apple Corps, since it’s Ringo, no one pays the slightest bit of attention.

1970: Jobs meets Steve Wozniak for the first time. Wozniak is somewhat put off when Jobs asks him if he wouldn’t mind standing in Jobs’ shadow for the rest of his life.

1974: Steve Wozniak works at Hewlett-Packard where he discovers the alien technology locked in a back room. Wozniak uses it to create a reality distortion field that Jobs quickly claims as his own.

1976: Jobs and Wozniak form Apple Computer in Jobs’ parents’ garage, right between the lawn mower and the old copies of National Geographic. Jobs’ mother would frequently yell out to them, “What are you boys doing out there?!” to which they would reply, “Just soldering.” Jobs’ mother did not know what soldering was but she hoped it wasn’t slang for whatever unsavory things kids were into back then.

1980: Steve Jobs asserts his way on to the Macintosh project team, pushing out Jef Raskin. That would be bad enough, but running around holding a Macintosh prototype over Raskin’s head and playing “keep-away” was probably uncalled for.

1983: Jobs asks Pepsi president John Sculley to come to Apple as CEO. Sculley looks down at his legal pad which contained six months’ worth of doodles and the words “Idea: New Pepsi?” written in the margin and agrees.

1984: Apple airs its famous Super Bowl ad during the 1984 match-up between the Raiders and the Redskins. The commercial would reign as Best Super Bowl Ad Ever until it was overtaken in 2005 by the one where the GoDaddy.com girl’s top comes off.

1985: After a falling out with Sculley, Jobs resigns from the company, but not until after their famous May slap-fight in the Apple board room, during which Microsoft introduces Windows 1.0.

1985: Hoping to recapture its Super Bowl success from the previous year, Apple devises a promotional plan where the coach of the winning team will be doused with a shower of Macs. The plan ends in disaster when a Macintosh 512k shatters Bill Walsh’s hip.

1986-1992: Sculley focuses all his attention on the introduction of the Newton, which becomes the next great computing platform of the future with flawless handwriting recognition, a vibrant developer community, and a free pony for each Newton user.

1993: Apple’s board fires Sculley when it’s discovered that he cannot bend spoons with his mind, as he claimed in his job interview.

1994: Macs begin the transition to the PowerPC, just one part of the company’s poorly-conceived "Time to mess with our developers" strategy.

1995: Apple licenses the Mac OS, encouraging licensees to fill markets the company isn’t already in. Things get off on the wrong foot, however, when Power Computing CEO Steve Kahng literally eats Mike Spindler’s lunch when the Apple CEO isn’t looking.

1996: Spindler resigns and is replaced by a minor rock formation dubbed “Gil Amelio” by geologists. The rock formation is still a marked improvement over Spindler, most notably for its decision to ditch the Copland project and instead buy Next, bringing Steve Jobs back to the company.

1997: Jobs assumes the interim CEO post and immediately orders Gil Amelio buried in a Utah landfill. He also terminates the cloning license, kills the Newton, announces an alliance with Microsoft, begins selling Macs directly online and has the entire Apple campus moved three inches to the left to improve the feng shui.

1998: The iMac is introduced, launching a fruit-flavored trend in design that, in retrospect, we probably could have done without.

2001: To improve its image with consumers, Apple opens retail stores in high-end malls, providing a key outlet for the iPod when it’s released in October. Jobs’ subsequent attempts to sneak into homes to deliver iPods was met with shrill screams of “Aaaagh! Mommy, who’s the man in the blue jeans and black turtleneck coming down the chimney?!”

The iPod is immediately declared over-priced and under-featured. The analysts are right once again as the iPod fails dismally.

2003: Apple launches the iTunes Music Store, which is resoundingly determined to be over-priced and under-featured. The analysts are right once again as the iTunes Music Store fails dismally.

2005: Steve Jobs announces that Macs will be switched to the Intel chipset. Somewhere a MUG member angrily threatens to switch to Windows but quietly buys an Intel-based Mac mini a year later.

Analysts—who had called for the move for years—now denounce it out from sheer reflex to denounce anything Apple does.

[ John Moltz writes the “What’s Hot” feature in Macworld each month in between his stint as Editor in Chief of the Crazy Apple Rumors Site. ]

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