Apple Company History—From Humble Beginnings to Domination

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

What is Apple’s company history? Where did Apple, Inc. begin? How did they rise to become one of the most influential companies in the world?

We’ll cover Apple’s company history and explore the choices that Wozniak and Jobs made that changed the company, and the world. Learn the lessons from Apple’s history.

Apple’s Company History: The Story of Apple, Inc. 

The 1960s and 1970s in America were characterized by common people rising up and challenging people in power. That was the case for Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, who were at the forefront of the technological revolution. 

Although Apple is one of the most prominent technological companies today, Wozniak built the Apple I not to make money, but to help the common man. Wozniak believed that allowing average people to buy and own computers would level the playing field and give the little guy a leg up. This is the origin of Apple, Inc.’s history.

Job’s role was to sell the computer Wozniak made. Jobs was more than just a great salesman: he also believed that revolutionary ideas would change the world. 

That combined vision of accessibility, opportunity, and revolution became Wozniak and Job’s WHY—and it led to incredible success. In their first year, Apple made $1 million in revenue. This rose to $10 million in their second year. And by year six, Apple had become a billion-dollar business with 3,000 employees. This was a major turning point in Apple’s company history.

Wozniak and Jobs weren’t the only people, or even the first people, participating in the computer revolution of the 1970s. But Apple succeeded–and continues to succeed–because it starts with WHY.  

Apple History: Why Is It So Successful?

Apple has put WHY first since its inception. When Apple first started, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs saw the company as a way to give individuals power. This is part of what makes Apple’s company history so special.

At the time, companies held a monopoly on computing, and Jobs and Wozniak believed that by empowering individuals with computing power, they could change the world. Igniting revolutions by empowering people became the company’s WHY! 

Just like the company, all of Apple’s products and their launches have started with WHY. Let’s take a look at some of the standouts in Apple’s company history: 

  • The Blue Box: While this product never made it to shelves, The Blue Box was designed to help people avoid paying long-distance rates on phone bills, which were exorbitant in the 1970s. Although the product was definitely illegal, it certainly embodied their belief in empowering people to take on corporate forces. 
  • The Apple I Computer: Launched in 1976, Apple entered a market that was dominated by IBM. But instead of giving corporations the tools to maintain power like IBM, Apple put computing power in the hands of individuals. Now people and small businesses had the same computing ability as the big guys. 
  • The Macintosh: In 1984, Apple developed the first computer to ever use a graphical user interface, or GPU. Now, anyone could use a computer–you didn’t need special training or a degree in computer science to make one work. Once again, Apple empowered the individual. 
  • iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone: Each of these devices challenged the status quo, whether it was in the music industry, telecommunications industry, or in personal electronics. Apple pushed the envelope, and in doing so, gave individual consumers more freedom to use their products their way, not how companies told them to. 

Apple’s constant commitment to its WHY has created incredibly loyal employees and customers who are drawn to their beliefs. This is the legacy of Apple’s company history.

Note, not everyone is a loyal customer–even though Apple is a leader in the industry, they only hold about 2.5 percent of the personal computer market share. But starting with WHY isn’t about converting everyone. 

And yet, Apple is still one of the most valuable tech companies in the world. And it all comes from pursuing the company’s values and vision in everything they do. Apple’s company history can teach us how to found companies on WHY instead of WHAT.

Apple Company History—From Humble Beginnings to Domination

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of "Start With Why" at Shortform. Learn the book's critical concepts in 20 minutes or less.

Here's what you'll find in our full Start With Why summary:

  • What Steve Jobs did right compared to every other business leader
  • How to define your organization's WHY
  • How to help your organization avoid losing its edge as it succeeds
Amanda Penn

Amanda Penn

Amanda Penn is a writer and reading specialist. She’s published dozens of articles and book reviews spanning a wide range of topics, including health, relationships, psychology, science, and much more. Amanda was a Fulbright Scholar and has taught in schools in the US and South Africa. Amanda received her Master's Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *