is an American multinational corporation with a focus on designing andmanufacturing consumer electronics and software products. The company's best-knownhardware products include the Macintosh line of personal computers, the iPod line of portable media players, and the iPhone. Apple's software products include the Mac OS Xoperating system, iTunes media browser, the iLife suite of multimedia and creativitysoftware, and Final Cut Studio, a suite of professional audio- and film-industry software products. The company operates more than 200 retail stores in eight countries and an onlinestore where hardware and software products are sold.Established in Cupertino, California on April 1, 1976 and incorporated January 3, 1977, thecompany was called "Apple Computer, Inc." for its first 30 years, but dropped the word"Computer" on January 9, 2007 to reflect the company's ongoing expansion into theconsumer electronics market in addition to its traditional focus on personal computers. Applehas about 28,000 employees worldwide and has worldwide annuak sales of US$24 billion inits fiscal year ending September 29, 2007.
1976–1980: The early yearsApple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne,tosell the Apple I personal computer kit. They were hand-built by Wozniak and first shown tothe public at the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple I was sold as a motherboard (withCPU, RAM, and basic textual-video chips)—less than what is today considered a complete personal computer. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 and was market-priced atUS$666.66.Apple was incorporated January 3, 1977 without Wayne, who sold his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800.The Apple II was introduced on April 16, 1977 at the first West Coast Computer Faire. Itdiffered from its major rivals, the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, because it came with color graphics and an open architecture.By the end of the 1970s, Apple had a staff of computer designers and a production line. TheApple II was succeeded by the Apple III in May 1980 as the company competed with IBMand Microsoft in the business and corporate computing market.In 1984, Apple next launched the Macintosh. The Macintosh initially sold well, but follow-upsales were not strong. The machine's fortunes changed with the introduction of theLaserWriter, the first laser printer to be offered at a reasonable price point, and PageMaker,an early desktop publishing package. The Mac was particularly powerful in this market dueto its advanced graphics capabilities, which were already necessarily built-in to create theintuitive Macintosh GUI. It has been suggested that the combination of these three productswas responsible for the creation of the desktop publishing market. As desktop publishing became widespread, Apple's sales reached new highs and the company had its initial publicoffering on September 7, 1984.Apple's sustained growth during the early 1980s was partly due to its leadership in theeducation sector, attributed to their adaptation of the programming language LOGO, used inmany schools with the Apple II. The drive into education was accentuated in California withthe donation of one Apple II and one Apple LOGO software package to each public school inthe state.1986–1993: Rise and fallHaving learned several painful lessons after introducing the bulky Macintosh Portable in1989, Apple introduced the PowerBook in 1991, which established the modern form andergonomic layout of the laptop computer. The same year, Apple introduced System 7, a