45 years ago today, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer. Today, it is the most valuable brand on planet earth and is valued at more than two trillion dollars. It commands culture, cultivates creativity and defies norms. It is a company that is nothing else. It’s easy to forget how we got here, so I like to periodically look back at Apple’s roller coaster of a tapestry.
As a lifelong fan, Apple means the world to me. As a human being, my life and the lives of billions of people are literally defined. Apple activated all the companies that make the world go round. Usually, publications look back on product announcements that ended up changing the world. Instead, I wanted to spend some time looking back at special moments in Apple̵
May 19, 2006 | Apple’s flagship 5th Avenue store opens its glass doors
Today, Apple has more than 500 stores worldwide, but one store has always had a special place in our hearts. The Fifth Avenue Apple Store, often referred to as ‘The Cube’, has always been the most iconic of the gang. It first opened its doors in the spring of 2006 to large crowds that would keep coming back for each major subsequent product launch.
Steve Jobs himself was there with his wife Laurene and opened the doors for the very first customers. There was also Ron Johnson, Apple’s grocery manager at the time. The iconic image of Steve looking up at the Apple logo you sometimes see was taken that day.
The Fifth Avenue Apple Store has been an important part of Apple’s history. It’s Apple’s biggest landmark on the East Coast, and it’s a regular pilgrimage for Apple fans. During its almost 15-year life, tens of millions of people have been welcomed. Apple loves to note that the store has welcomed more people annually than the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.
May 30, 2007 | Steve Jobs and Bill Gates sit down with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher for a legendary interview
Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher are known for their legendary technology and business conferences All Things Digital and Code Conference. Steve Jobs was a regular guest at the conference that day, but in 2007 he sat down with Bill Gates with Walt and Kara to talk about their relationship and their two companies.
This was the first time since 1991 that the two men sat down for an interview. The two had the chemistry of an old married couple, they did fun jabs at each other, but also acknowledged the incredible achievements that each had made.
July 11, 2008 | The App Store opens and changes software forever
The day the App Store opened changed everything. The first day it was open, the App Store offered only around 500 apps for iPhone and iPod touch. It debuted with apps like Twitterrific, the first Twitter client and games like Super Monkey Ball, one of the first real accelerometer-led games. The App Store instantly powered up the iPhone and iPod touch. It breathed new life into the iPhone OS and from the very beginning it was clear that it would turn out to be something big. I remember downloading iPhone OS 2.0 and installing apps like Bubbles, Super Monkey Ball and Remote for the first time.
The App Store has since become home to more than 2 million apps from developers worldwide. It has created completely new industries and enabled billions of dollars for companies such as Instagram and Uber. The app economy, as it is sometimes referred to, has changed the way we live and work.
April 19, 2010 | Gizmodo shares photos of the iPhone 4 prototype again in a bar
Apple has always been a target for leaks and rumors, but in April 2010, Gizmodo landed one of the most important. Brian Chen, a reporter for Gizmodo, obtained an iPhone 4 prototype that an Apple engineer had left in a bar. I remember the moment the article came alive and I swallowed it. I’m sure many of you who read this did too.
The device had been hidden inside a secure case that made it look like an iPhone 3GS. But Gizmodo was not fooled. After removing the case, Gizmodo discovered the brand new glass and steel design. It also revealed the forward-facing camera, the infamous antenna band, and it ran an internal beta version of the iPhone OS 4.
It was clear at the time just from looking at it that the device was genuine. It was too detailed, too polished and too “Apple” for it not to be real. Sure enough, John Gruber at Daring Fireball called his sources and was told that it had been lost by an Apple employee, and the company was eager to get it back. Not surprisingly, Steve Jobs himself became involved in the situation and personally tried to get the device back from Gizmodo.
June 7, 2011 | Steve Jobs presents plans for ‘Apple Campus 2’ to the City Council of Cupertino
Just a few months before he passed away, Steve Jobs presented his plans for Apple Park to the City Council of Cupertino. He revealed his iconic ring-shaped design and beautiful landscaping. He explained how the company also acquired the land that it now owns, and reminisced about the days when the land was just apricot plantations.
It’s quite fun to look back on this event and see the renderings of the campus almost 6 years before it opened to the public for the iPhone X event in September 2017.
October 5, 2011 | The world remembers Steve Jobs in the wake of his death
I remember the exact moment. I was standing in my living room, that day I had shadowed my cousin in high school. My iPhone 4 buzzed. The CNN app showed a push alert that Steve had passed away. I broke down, my hero had died. As soon as I logged in, I saw much of the world feel the same pain as I was. Immediately, images of temporary memorials in Apple stores around the world begin to flood the web. I still get chills and remember exactly how I felt that night and looked at the picture of this tab in an Apple store that cried below.
Tributes poured in from dignitaries and leaders. President Obama’s statement always makes me tear up:
The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned about his transfer of a device he invented.
I remember watching the latest news on TV for the first time, and I remember waking up the next morning and seeing it be the top story in the Today show. A recording of this morning’s episode, dedicated to Steve, is still on YouTube.
October 25, 2011 | Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Al Gore, Bill Campbell & more remember Steve Jobs at Infinite Loop
Later in October, Apple held a special memorial service in the courtyard of the Infinite Loop. It was led by Tim Cook, but speeches were given by many of Steve’s other friends as well. Two speeches in particular always get me. Jony Ive’s stories of traveling with Steve continue to be some of my favorite anecdotes that capture their relationship.
Bill Campbell, a technical veteran and member of Apple’s board, also spoke. He broke down in tears and remembered not only his colleague, but one of his very close friends. His speech reminds you that Steve was as much an ordinary person as anyone else.
October 29, 2012 | Scott Forstall leaves Apple, Craig & Jony take control of iOS
In late 2012, Tim Cook fired Scott Forstall. It was a shocking incident that came as a result of Forstall’s refusal to apologize for the unrolled Apple Maps rollout with iOS 6. Forstall did not get along well with Apple’s other executives, and Tim Cook was determined to build a team. who worked harmoniously together. This gave him the opportunity to send Forstall packing. Little did we know at the time that this single move would change the course of Apple’s software development.
Craig Federighi took over iOS development and Jony Ive took over human interface design. The next major iOS update, iOS 7, removed the platform for all skeuomorphic elements, and Craig was careful to note that several times during the presentation at WWDC 2013. Design is an important part of the story, but this feature also streamlined the development of Apple platforms and brought them closer together.
July 30, 2017 | Developers unveil iPhone X design and Face ID months before announcement
After Apple introduced the HomePod at WWDC 2017, the device was rolled out for testing among employees. Apple began releasing Buildings of HomePods firmware over the summer. Developers were able to obtain firmware and find many hidden gems. One of them was a character that revealed the iPhone X’s screen design.
Firmware also revealed the existence of biometric face locking. It became a huge story and was talked about indefinitely for a long time. Apple is usually very careful about revealing products of this caliber early. So when developers discovered the iPhone X, called ‘D22’ at the time, it was a huge surprise.
August 30, 2018 | Apple accidentally uploads photos of the iPhone XS and Apple Watch Series 4 early
Apple’s website almost never reveals anything before it should. So when Apple announced its annual September event in August 2018, people were blown away when 9to5Mac found images of the event’s announcements hosted on Apple’s servers. The 9to5Mac was exclusively capable of revealing the iPhone XS and XS Max, as well as the Apple Watch Series 4 redesign.
There were rumors that Apple was expanding the screen size of the Apple Watch at the time, but no one had major leaks that revealed the redesign of the chassis or the overhauled software that it came with. The leaks revealed that Apple also brought back a shiny gold finish to the Apple Watch for the first time since they had retired 18K gold Apple Watch Edition.
June 27, 2019 | Jony Ive cements a unique legacy and leaves Apple to form LoveFrom
Jony Ive and Steve Jobs were a battle made in heaven. The two men together created some of the most productive products in human history. After Steve’s death, Jony led the teams that created the Apple Watch and built the Apple Park. Ive undoubtedly been the most important designer of this time, and his mark on the world is indelible. So when Apple announced in the summer of 2019 that Jony was leaving the company to form a new independent studio ‘LoveFrom’, it was huge news.
Jony had already taken the back seat of the daily product design, leaving these jobs to Alan Dye and Richard Howarth. So it was not entirely surprising that he chose to go, but it sent a shock wave through the industry. It gave Apple’s other designers the opportunity to try new things and break the mold.
Today, Apple’s industrial design team is led by Evans Hankey, a longtime member of June’s team. Her first public introduction to the public was just during December as VoiceOver for Apple’s AirPods Max video. Apple’s human interface team is still led by Alan Dye, whose latest audience-facing event tells of the introduction of Apple’s slate of new dials at the September 2020 event.
There are so many memorable moments in Apple’s 45-year history. We could talk about them forever, but we want to hear what your favorite moments are. Let us know which moments in Apple’s history you remember best in the comments below!
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