Steve Jobs famously designed the first Apple computer, simply titled Apple I, in his parents' basement in Cupertino, Calif. with business partners Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. With its strange retail price of $666.66, the unit included neither a keyboard nor a monitor – customers had to add their own. Only 200 of the machines made it to market. By contrast, 3 million iPad tablet computers were sold within 80 days of its launch in 2010.
While myriad rumors persist regarding Steve Jobs' decision to name his company "Apple," its iconic logo has also been the source of much speculation. Purposefully leaving the company's name out of the logo design has only made it that much more mysterious – and revered. Varying only slightly over time – it started out rainbow-striped back in 1976 and morphed to its monochromatic variation in 1998 – the "bitten" icon remains one of the most recognized corporate logos in the world.
In April 1977, less than a year after Apple I launched, Jobs debuted the new and improved Apple II computer at the first West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco, shown here. A great improvement over its older sibling, Apple II included both a keyboard and a monitor and came ready to run out of the box, per Jobs' insistence. This is the computer that changed the face of home computing and arguably set the first real bar for home computer design.
Posing with then-Apple CEO John Sculley (right) on January 16th, 1984, Steve Jobs transformed the very idea of a home computer for the second time, with the arrival of the Macintosh. Six days after this photo was taken, Macintosh computers were introduced to the world via a now-infamous commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, that aired during Super Bowl XVIII. Its arrival ushered in the first era of desktop publishing.
Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 after an internal power struggle with then-CEO John Sculley and the company's board of directors. Undaunted, he created NeXT corporation, a company specializing in computer software and workstations for educational and business use. The object-oriented software Jobs helped develop at NeXT was highly influential, shaping what would become the signature Mac operating system and even the very first Web browser.
In 1986, while Jobs was away from Apple, he bought the Graphics Group division of George Lucas' Lucasfilm production company. He soon renamed the now-independent company Pixar. Initial forays into specialized hardware sales were unsuccessful, and the company shifted focus to animated commercials. After a few rough years, Pixar found its stride, producing groundbreaking computer-animated feature films as part of a partnership with Disney. Toy Story, the first of these films, went on to gross $350 million worldwide after it hit theaters in 1995. Disney eventually purchased Pixar outright, and in the process, Steve Jobs became Disney's largest individual stockholder.
By 1996, Jobs had returned to Apple as an advisor. The company had faltered without Jobs' clear vision, losing money on hit-and-miss product launches that didn't resonate with consumers. After hitting a three-year record low stock price in 1997, Jobs was named interim CEO.
Steve Jobs unveiled the plug-and-play iMac in 1998. Candy-colored and consumer-friendly, the new line of computers emphasized simplicity with commercials extolling its out-of-the-box setup and ease of use. The iMac ditched the floppy drive, opting for a PC-compatible USB for the first time. Its unique, translucent design influenced countless products that year – everything from George Foreman grills to pencil sharpeners.
With the arrival of the iPod on October 23rd, 2001, Steve Jobs and Apple revolutionized portable music devices as radically as they changed the face of home computing more than two decades earlier. Whereas Sony's Discman (and Walkman before it) had been the thing to beat, neither product could even begin to compete with the iPod, which was significantly smaller in size and could hold 5GB of digital music, which amounted to roughly 1,000 songs – as opposed to a single album.
Seen here in London on June 15th, 2004 launching the iTunes Store for Great Britain, Germany and France, Steve Jobs first opened the iTunes Store in America a year earlier. His intention to both pioneer and dominate digital music sales was clear. Not only did iTunes become the default digital music outlet for consumers, but by 2008 it actually became the number one music vendor in America. As of October 2011, the store has served more than 16 billion songs. It's also become a marketplace for the digital sale and transfer of movies, television shows, audiobooks, podcasts and mobile phone applications.
Having established the iPod as the premiere portable digital music device, Steve Jobs decided to expand its influence and market share by branching the brand out into several related spinoff products. Recognizing that different music consumers had distinctly different needs and budgets, Jobs eventually launched variations such as the iPod Nano and the iPod Touch, both of which were offered in several different configurations and price points. In this image from the 2005 Macworld Expo on January 11th, Jobs unveils the iPod Shuffle for the first time.
Having pioneered and transformed both the home computing and digital music industries, Steve Jobs set his sights on the mobile phone market. On January 9th, 2007 he made history – again – when he unveiled the first iPhone at the Macworld Conference in San Francisco (seen here). More than just a mobile phone, the iPhone included a digital music player and a camera, and it even had Internet capabilities. The device was an instant success and quickly gained a devoted following. It remains, in many ways, the most coveted mobile device on the market.
When Steve Jobs revealed Apple's latest innovation, the iPad, at a special event on January 27th, 2010, it became apparent that soon he would transform yet another industry – tablet computing. Reminiscent of a super-sized version of the iPhone, the iPad bridged the gap between smartphones and laptop computers. Almost immediately surrounded by a rush of imitators, the iPad retains a dominant slice of the market share: In 2010, it was responsible for more than 75 percent of all tablet sales, and nearly 15 million of the devices were sold worldwide that year.
One of the iTunes Store's most famous holdouts was, until late 2010, the Beatles. The iconic band joined the iconic brand three years after legal wrangling between Apple Inc. and the group's label, Apple Records, was finalized. Steve Jobs teased music fans in a 2007 Apple keynote by playing "Lovely Rita" on an iPhone, in what may have been a sly hint that the Fab Four's catalog would soon be available.
Returning from a break due to his failing health at an Apple keynote in 2011, Steve Jobs announced the company's improved and expanded iCloud storage system. Riffing off of Apple services that had been available since 2000, the iCloud service lets consumers store music, photos, documents – essentially their entire digital life – for simple synching across Apple devices.