Apple Corporation’s Most Important Products

12/4/2012 3:14:02 PM

Greatest hits from the past 4 decades

Newest Apple product

According to various leaks and online sources, Apple will introduce the iPad Mini to the world on October 23rd. For $390-$470, consumers worldwide will have access to the smaller 7 inch brother of the iPad. As we await the newest of the Cupertion designed products, let us take a brief tour of Apple’s history of commercial introductions. Coincidentally, we look back at the four decades of Apple releases having recently marked the one year passing of Steve jobs. His vision, even when he was not at the nominal helm of the company, made an imprint on all of the gadgets and services emblazoned with the Apple logo. Although his passing was more than a year ago, we now enter the undiscovered territory of Apple corporate and product evolution without the deified co-founder’s influence.

Description: A world of a difference

A world of a difference

Apple II

No, we won’t start with the Apple which was more of a hobbyist’s toy and less a commercial product meant for widespread distribution. The Apple was such a machine that, in conjunction with Radio Shack’s TRS-80, the Commodore PET and IBM’s PC, helped to create the personal computer industry.

The Apple II, introduced in 1977, in all its permutations of Plus, lle, llc and llgs, remained in production through the early 1990s and sold over two million units. For $2, individuals across the US, eventually Europe then Japan and subsequently the rest of the world, purchased their earliest machines thereby introducing a generation to the advantages of personal computing. There were some downsides though – a limited number of programs were available and communication between machines consisted of audio cassette tapes until 5.25 inch disks and a disks operating system became available. The world would have to wait for VisiCalc’s introduction in 1977 to fully rationalize their buys. With the killer app that was VisiCalc (imagine a dumbed down version of Microsoft Excel) home users now had a formidable never before seen tool that was unique to the personal computer.

Description: The Apple II was designed more like a home appliance and less like a computational device

The Apple II was designed more like a home appliance and less like a computational device

Even back then, jobs and Wozniak’s Apple targeted a somewhat different purchasing demographic than the other nascent PC manufactures. The Apple II was designed more like a home appliance and less like a computational device. It had a color screen which was at that point a substantial differentiating selling point from the more business-oriented offerings from the competition. The Apple LL’s emphasis on targeting consumers with electronics that were until-then primarily seen as a business tool set the bar for consumer marketing that lasts to this day. It should also be noted that the Apple II coincided with the rebranding of the company with the now familiar, although since modified, Apple silhouette.


Enter the GUI. Before the 1984 release of the Macintosh, most PC users had to interact with command prompts which entailed a blinking for textual input. Sound as boring as programming a Unix-based server in ASCII? Yep. Legend has it that jobs and Wozniak toured the Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in exchange for Apple stock and subsequently utilized, some would say stole, the basic concepts of a mouse navigated Graphical User Interface from a prototype Xerox computer codenamed Alto. Although the imminently unsuccessful Apple Lisa was the first PC to use a GUI, Macintosh is a precursor to all of today’s Gui-based devices from the self-service checkout at your local Target to the interactive menu on your TV.

Jobs was the mastermind behind the Macintosh marketing plan culminating in the television commercial that paid homage to Orwell’s 1984. All of Apple’s subsequent corporate identity practices, until perhaps the last few years, were based upon the narrative in the commercial. Apple was the outsider fighting for the individual’s rights against the megalithic corporate culture. Recall the PC/Mac ads of just a few years ago in which a portly actor portrays the established computer makers in comparison to the charming hipster who embodies the youthful Apple brand. All such Apple narratives that stick in the minds of the current tech consumer can trace their lineage back to that 60 second commercial. Initially priced at over $3,120, the Macintosh was introduced with great fanfare and with software preinstalled that took advantage of its graphics abilities. Macintosh seeded our cultural image of Apple tools that are both elegant and easy to use.

Moreover, due to corporate infighting, Jobs had been pushed out from the Lisa product development group and relegated to the Macintosh team. His slow, painful descent and removal from the company are intertwined within the byzantine politics that took place within the Macintosh product group and the corporate umbrella. Destined to lose the power struggle with Sculley, then CEO of Apple, it was only after being removed from his post could Jobs then return as the prodigal son to lead Apple to greater heights.


What difference does a bulbous blueberry-colored desktop without a disk drive make? A world of a difference. iMAC represents the return of Jobs and the reinvented technology maker. The company had lost its way under the leadership tenures of Sculley and later, Gil Amelio. Apple had unsuccessfully branched into portable devices and corporate machines but under the laser-focus of Jobs’ vision, returned to its core, and to product purity and profitability. iMAC lacked certain industry accepted features such as a floppy drive but was the first to truly embrace the networked environment. The ‘i’ in iMAC for the Internet and jobs wagered the corporate future on a colorful device that was meant to work within a client/server paradigm and less as a standalone computer powerful enough to tackle anything on its own.

Description:  iMac 27 inch: 2.7GHz - MC813ZP/A

 iMac 27 inch: 2.7GHz - MC813ZP/A

Yes, all of Apple’s big hits since have integrated the “i” as a branding device in addition to announcing the networkable aspects of the machines, but the iMac’s great feat was creating an easy-to-use consumer-based machine that buyers would pay a premium to own. Although the Macintosh had been successful in pushing a similar cost/benefit equation, Apple Corporation had lost its way until Jobs created the iMac. Today’s Apple devotees are trained in the mantra that the supposed simplicity and ease of the Apple product line comes at a higher cost: You may get similar performance from a less expensive in a less gratifying user experience? That is the supposed analysis that successfully took hold in the minds of the millions of Apple consumers. The legacy of the original iMac lives on in every iPhone and iPad sold today.


We all know its power and bow to it. Telecom carriers hate it and competitors mimic it. Without iPhone, you would most likely not be reading this magazine or this article. It is given near-heroic attributes and abilities. Jobs leveraged the form function attained from years of refining an mp3 player and morphed the iTunes market into one that also hawks apps. He brilliantly repackaged the operating system initially designed for a tablet and squeezed it into the smaller size device. The iPhone has transformed the way in which Americans interact with devices and one another. International markets have followed suit and in doing so, reinforce the hegemonic grip that American companies, especially technology firms, have in creating the emerging fields of tomorrow. iPhone, Apple Corporation but serve as ambassadors of American capitalistic ingenuity. They are the shock troops that communicate to the consumer the attributes of value, engineering prowess and marketing genius. They are physical embodiments of Jobs’ thoughts and business acumen. Apple will supposedly introduce the newest iPad in less than 2 weeks. We will see if this introduction and all coming product unveilings are able to exploit the mindshare that Jobs was able to carve out over his lifetime.

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