Apple’s first 40 years: An oral history from insiders; Spoiler: Bill Gates had a bigger role in Apple’s success than even he may know

“Four decades after Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak set out to turn computers into a tool that anyone could use, Apple has become the most valuable brand in the world, with some of the most successful products ever made,” Shara Tibken reports for CNET. “Apple has shaped countless industries, from computing to music, and its former employees have gone on to innovate and create new tech industries around everything from enterprise software to smart thermostats.”

“At its heart, Apple has always been about creating elegant, easy-to-use products we never even knew we wanted,” Tibken reports. “‘It was love at first sight when I first encountered the Apple II at the inaugural West Coast Computer Faire in April 1977,’ said Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original members of the Macintosh team who designed the system’s software. ‘I continue to be thrilled by new Apple products to this day.'”

“Other former Apple executives and partners shared their favorite memories of the company and Jobs, who was, to many people, the driving force behind its success. They include former finance execs Debi Coleman and Susan Barnes, ex-Apple designer Clement Mok, technical visionary Alan Kay, chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki and Jobs’ marketing mentor, Regis McKenna,” Tibken reports. “”

Read more in the full article — including how the name for Steve Jobs’ “NeXT” actually came from Bill Gates — here.

MacDailyNews Take: Great article, but it’s unclear exactly how Gates contributed the name that was eventually stylized “NeXT.”

Apple at 40: The forgotten co-founder who gave it all away – April 1, 2016
Happy 40th birthday, Apple! – April 1, 2016
Co-founders Woz, Ron Wayne discuss founding Apple, Steve Jobs – August 26, 2011
‘Third founder’ Ron Wayne pulled out of Apple after 2 weeks; stake would be worth $23 billion today – April 24, 2010


  1. stopped reading the article at this point:

    “Microsoft didn’t just unwittingly help out Apple. It also invested $150 million in the company in the summer of 1997 to keep Apple afloat as it was close to going out of business. ”

    this is simply wrong. I don’t have the energy to correct that myth as it’s been done endlessly before. if the article gets that wrong I wonder what else in it is just urban legend , so I stopped reading.

      1. I should clarify. That the $150 million was an “investment” to save Apple is misleading. It was really settlement money for Apple’s patent claims against MS. However, the money did actually keep Apple from going bust.

        1. And they needed to keep Apple alive so Microsoft could claim that Microsoft was not a monopoly and the US courts should not break them up.

        2. aaaaaarhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!

          “You are absolutely wrong.” REALLY?

          article 2009:
          at that time of the deal as Apple CFO Anderson said:

          “Apple, which ended its third quarter with $1.2 billion in cash”

          “and had ended its previous quarter with quarterly revenues of US$1.7 billion and cash reserves of US$1.2 billion,[64] making the US$150 million amount of the investment largely symbolic. ”

          YES apple was 90 days from bankruptcy but 150 million wouldn’t have made much of a difference, 150 million didn’t ‘ Apple afloat ‘.

          the Microsoft deal helped apple as a PR move to stabilize the company plus got Msft to develop software for Apple OS for a set period of time But the BACKSTORY was that Microsoft was being sued by Apple for infringement..

          the whole idea that Msft ‘did a favour’ is just off.

          HERE :
          Zdnet 2010

          “Here are some backstory that recasts the myth in a different light:

          What was this legal action that gave Apple so much leverage over Redmond? It was a strange one: the Apple Computer v. San Francisco Canyon Co. lawsuit.

          Stephen Howard-Sarin, now the vice president for business & finance brands at CBS Interactive, and I co-wrote the story for the Dec. 12 issue of MacWEEK (there weren’t the 24/7 Apple channels that we now have on the Internet back then; I believe we broke the story).

          Apple suit: Video for Windows cribbed from QuickTime code

          Charges of copyright infringement and wrongdoing were raised last week by Apple, which filed an intellectual-property suit against The San Francisco Canyon Co., a small third-party contractor for Apple. But the scope of the court action encompasses industry giants Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp.

          Canyon worked on digital video software for both Apple’s QuickTime for Windows and Intel’s Display Control Interface (DCI). Apple alleges its copyrighted code found its way into the shipping version of Microsoft’s Video for Windows and will be used in future software from both companies. …

          The suit alleges that a senior officer of Intel, after seeing demonstrations of QuickTime for Windows and Video for Windows at Comdex/Fall ’92 in Las Vegas, asked Canyon to provide software to Intel that would make Video for Windows’ speed comparable to that of QuickTime. Seven months later, Canyon delivered its code to Intel, giving video for Windows 1.1D performance parity with QuickTime for Windows 1.1. …
          A few months later, Apple added Intel and Microsoft to the action. In later testimony, Apple showed that thousands of lines of “significant programming code” for video acceleration used in Windows came directly from Apple’s QuickTime for Windows….

          … So, is there any ring of “irony” here as the reports make it sound? Not much to my ears. Microsoft and Intel got their fingers caught in the source code and paid for it. Microsoft hired a larger team of former Apple programers, which didn’t help Apple directly, and Microsoft Office returned to being real Mac programs instead of lackluster ports.”

          Quote of STEVE JOBS:
          “Microsoft was walking over Apple’s patents. I said, “If we kept up our lawsuits, a few years from now we could win a billion-dollar patent suit. You know it, and I know it. But Apple’s not going to survive that long if we’re at war. I know that. So let’s figure out how to settle this right away. All I need is a commitment that Microsoft will keep developing for the Mac and an investment by Microsoft in Apple so it has a stake in our success.”

      2. No, critic2, the Microsoft investment in non-voting stock was not material in helping to keep Apple afloat. Apple still had sufficient resources available. The Microsoft agreement was just the first step for Steve Jobs in reinventing Apple.

        The most important factors to Steve at that time were: (1) Ending the long legal feud with M$ so that Apple could focus on kicking M$’s ass in the future and (2) Improving business/consumer confidence in Apple by ensuring that Microsoft Office would be available for the next five years.

        But the media invented its own story many years ago and those that publish get to make up the “facts.”

    1. I think the other urban myth is Apple was on the verge of going out of business. if that was true, where did Apple get $460+ million to buy NeXT?

      I also wonder what good did $150M from M$ do? How far did that go? Maybe it was a token loan and the real deal was the M$ software. I don’t know.

      Maybe the perception was Apple was going out of business or maybe the reality was they weren’t growing, but they weren’t on the “verge” or on the brink of going bankrupt.

      But, then again, what do I know. I did not have access to their books.

      1. Well, if Jobs said “We were 90 days from going bankrupt.” then I guess Apple was broke. But then again, how many times had Jobs mis-directed us? 🙂

      2. The money crunch you’re talking about was about a year after Apple bought NeXT. Things continued to go south for Apple. By that point Steve had taken over.

    2. Actually, the points as stated are accurate.

      The real issue is WHY Microsoft invested in Apple. What they could (and couldn’t) do with that investment. Why the agreed to develop software for the Mac and for how long.

      Extremely few people know the reasons why this deal was struck. The precarious financial position of Apple was actually one of the minor reasons. The lynchpin of the rationale was not really Microsoft’s fault, but it could have conceivably cost them many, many times that $150 million to get out of the screw up.

      1. Microsoft invested in Apple because Apple was most of Microsoft’s “research department”. Microsoft just looked at what Apple did and cribbed it. At the time, at least, it was Microsoft’s modus operandi: they did the same thing to a lot of other great ideas from other small companies.

        Douglas Coupland is a writer who coined the word “Generation X”. One of his books (fiction) took place in Silicon Valley in the context of the heyday of the Apple and Microsoft feud. He includes some interesting info in the book. Yes, MS agreed to continue writing its software for Apple. But MS was supposed to have a “Chinese Wall” between those software developers and MS’s own operating system developers working on Windows. But Bill _really liked_ the Apple OS guy, and Bill’s mantra all the while to his own Windows OS team was: “Make it more like the Mac; MAKE IT MORE LIKE THE MAC!” So much for MS’s Chinese Wall. And so much for Bill Gates’ integrity, too.

        So, no, please let’s not re-write history and make Microsoft the savior of Apple. Microsoft screwed Apple and many other smaller companies, and did so royally. The set computing, and the world, back a lot of time …and let’s not forget money, all for a mediocre product.

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