Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

Apple is a prominent hardware and software company best known for its series of personal computers, the iPod and its innovative marketing strategies for its products.

Introduced in 1984, the Macintosh was the first widely sold personal computer with a graphical user interface (GUI). That feature and others -- such as an improved floppy drive design and a low-cost hard drive that made data retrieval faster and more reliable -- helped Apple cultivate a reputation for innovation, which the company still enjoys today. The Apple headquarters are located in Cupertino, CA, at 1-5 Infinite Loop. Apple borrowed the name for the circular road around their office buildings from programming, where an infinite loop is the term for a code sequence lacking a functional exit.

Apple was founded by Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak. Jobs and Wozniak had been friends in high school and in 1975 were members of The Homebrew Computer Club, a now-legendary group where electronics enthusiasts met to discuss the Altair 8800 (the only personal computer available at the time) and other technical topics. Wozniak designed his own microcomputer and offered his plans to Hewlett-Packard, where he was working as an engineering intern. After HP turned him down, Wozniak joined forces with Jobs to manufacture personal computers in Job's garage. That endeavor started out as a shoestring operation, but quickly became successful. The pair introduced a relatively modern-looking computer in a plastic case in 1977 and incorporated as Apple Computer that same year. By 1980 the company had grown to include over 1000 employees.

Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after a succession of CEOs and Macintosh models failed to gain much success in the marketplace in his absence. His introduction of the colorful iMac (which sold over 6 million units) brought the company back to profitability. In 2001, Apple released the first generation of iPods and included media jukebox software called iTunes. Apple introduced an online media store as part of iTunes, initially selling only music for .99 cents per song. Eventually, the iTunes Store grew to include videos, television shows and music videos. 

Apple Computer became Apple Inc. in 2007.

This was last updated in April 2009
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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