On April 1, 1976, two college dropouts, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, founded the Apple Computer Company. They began operating out of garage building the Apple I, which some claim to be the first personal computer to be sold as a fully assembled package.
In the early 1970s, before the introduction of the Apple I, the personal computing products available in the market had limited appeal. They were generally sold by small electronics firms and individual hobbyists through clubs. In many ways, Wozniak’s Apple I still typified the early merchandise. It consisted of an unpacked circuit board wired by Wozniak so that a purchaser could hook it up to a power supply. Within a few years, however astonishing advances in integrated circuitry provided the critical raw materials needed. And programmers began writing software to make the machines appealing to people.
In 1977, Wozniak and Jobs introduced the Apple II. In stark contrast to the Apple I, fundamentally a kit computer with limited appeal though creatively priced at $666, the $1298 Apple II is considered by many to be the first personal computer designed for the mass market. Market appeal came form its attractive physical design, and the fact that it came fully assembled with a standard keyboard, integrated power supply, and color graphics capability.
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan awarded both Wozniak and Jobs the national Medal of technology, the highest honor bestowed on America’s leading innovators, for their achievement at Apple Computer and their contributions in bringing the power of personal computing to the general public.
The success of the Macintosh put Apple Computer in the map. It also resulted in Microsoft recognizing the importance of GUI to future sales. Eventually, the personal relationship between Jobs and Bill Gates led to a period of cooperation, where Microsoft learned the basics of GUI technology, allowing Microsoft to begin its own project: Windows.
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