Portions of the following timeline were taken from The Apple II Guide, copyright 1992, Apple Inc., pages 3-9. Apple and the Apple II became a legend in their own time, landmarks in the age of computing they helped create. The Apple lore includes many firsts and fascinating facts. Here's how it happened:
No keyboard, no case, no sound, no graphics - but lots of vision
Steve Wozniak (age 26) finishes work on a prototype for a preassembled computer circuit board. The prototype took about six months to design and 40 hours to build. It's barely a computer by current standards - it has no keyboard, case, sound, or graphics. It's named the Apple I.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs with Apple I
Wozniak - better known as Woz - and Steve Jobs (age 21) form the Apple Computer Company on April Fool's Day.
The Apple I debuts at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California.
Original Apple logo
The Apple I board is released for sale to hobbyists and electronics enthusiasts at the price of $666.66.
The debut of the Apple II
Apple Computer is incorporated by Jobs, Wozniak, and their new partner and chairman, Mike Markkula.
Apple moves from Jobs' parents' garage to a building on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, California.
Apple corporate logo
The new Apple II is unveiled at the first West Coast Computer Faire. It's the first personal computer to generate color graphics and includes a keyboard, power supply, and attractive case.
The Apple II is now available to the general public. Fully assembled and pre-tested, it includes 4K of standard memory. It comes equipped with two game paddles and a demo audio cassette. The price is $1,298. Customers use their own TV sets as monitors and store programs on audio cassettes.
Hard work to make computing easier
Apple's Disk II disk drive is introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show. It is the lowest priced minifloppy disk drive ever offered by a computer manufacturer. It's also the fastest and the easiest to use. At first, production is handled by just two employees, turning out 30 drives a day.
No more typewriters
President Mike Scott declares that Apple should set an example for business everywhere and issues a company-wide mandate: "No more typewriters."
The Apple II Plus is introduced, available with 48K of memory and a new auto-start ROM for easier startup and screen editing. It costs $1,195.
Apple's first printer, the Silentype, is introduced.
Apple II Plus
Personal Software, Inc. releases VisiCalc for the Apple II. The spreadsheet is the first application to make personal computers a practical tool for people who don't know how to write their own programs.
Apple II annual sales rate is at 35,000 units, up 400 percent from 1978.
Apple employs 350 people working out of four buildings.
Apple III joins the Apple IIe
The Apple III is announced at the National Computer Conference. With a new operating system, a built-in disk controller, and four peripheral slots, the Apple III, priced at $3,495, is the most advanced system in the company's history.
Apple's employee count breaks 1,000.
"Welcome, IBM. Seriously."
International Business Machines introduces the IBM Personal Computer. Apple greets its new competitor with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal with a headline that reads, "Welcome, IBM. Seriously."
Apple's first mass storage system, the 5 MB ProFile hard drive is introduced, priced at $3,499.
ProFile hard drive
A billion dollar party
AppleFest - a showplace for more than 5,000 Apple-related products - opens in San Francisco.
Broderbund Software releases Bank Street Writer, a word processing program for the Apple II computer. It would remain very popular through out the 1980s.
Apple becomes the first personal computer company to reach a $1 billion annual sales rate. It throws a "Billion Dollar Party" for employees.
It's the Fortune 500 for Apple but kids can't wait
Apple introduces the Apple IIe computer priced at $1,395, and the Lisa computer priced at $9,995. Several new peripheral devices are also introduced.
John Sculley, formerly of PepsiCo, is elected Apple's new president and CEO.
Apple enters the Fortune 500 at number 411 - less than five years after its founding.
The "Kids Can't Wait" program is announced. Apple II computers are to be given to about 10,000 California schools by September.
Apple II TV Commercial from the 1980s
The 1,000,000th Apple II rolls off the assembly line and is the first of the computers to be awarded in the "Kids Can't Wait" grant.
AppleWorks, an integrated word processing, spreadsheet, and database software package, is introduced. It soon becomes the world's best selling software.
The ImageWriter printer is introduced and lists for $675.
Macintosh is new, but the Apple II is forever
The Macintosh is unveiled at Apple's annual shareholder's meeting, to be sold for $2,495.
The Apple IIc, priced at $1,295 is introduced at the company's Apple II Forever Conference in San Francisco. Two thousand dealers place orders for more than 52,000 units on the spot - an industry record.
Development of the Apple III line is discontinued.
Apple IIc Introduction (Jobs, Sculley, Woz)
Broderbund Software announces The Print Shop, the program that many credit with paving the way for the desktop publishing market.
The 2,000,000th Apple is sold.
Connectivity is the goal
At its annual shareholder's meeting, Apple introduces the LaserWriter printer, priced at $6,999, and the AppleTalk Personal Network, priced at $50.
Wozniak resigns to start a new company that will develop products for the home.
Steve "Woz" Wozniak
Apple IIe computers are enhanced with four new higher performance chips.
Apple IIe Enhanced
The Apple IIc celebrates its first year of production. More than 400,000 units have been sold.
The AppleLink telecommunications network goes into service, connecting Apple employees, dealers, suppliers, developers, and vendors through electronic mail and information libraries.
Apple's Office of Special Education is created to identify the computer-related needs of people with disabilities and assist in the development of responsive programs.
Steve Jobs resigns to start a new computer company called NeXT.
The ImageWriter II printer is introduced.
ImageWriter II printer
First Lady Nancy Reagan presents an Apple IIe to the College de Leman International in Versoix, Switzerland during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit.
Super deals, supercomputers, and a super new Apple II
Macintosh Plus and LaserWriter Plus are unveiled at the Apple World Conference in San Francisco. The Macintosh Plus is priced at $2,599; the LaserWriter Plus at $6,798.
Apple announces plans to create an independent software company, later named Claris.
For Apple II users who want to run MS-DOS programs, Applied Engineering offers PC Transporter.
AppleLink - Personal Edition comes online
Apple introduces the LaserWriter II family of desktop printers.
Timeworks ships with Publish It!, the first true desktop-publishing program for the Apple II.
LaserWriter II printer
Apple introduces the AppleCD SC, an optical storage device for storing and using huge amounts of information.
The Apple IIc Plus is introduced. It's faster and less expensive than the original Apple IIc that it replaces. The price of an Apple IIc Plus color system is $1,099. GS/OS, the enhanced operating system for the Apple IIgs, is also announced. It retails for $39.
Apple introduces the Macintosh IIx computer, the first Macintosh to use Motorola's 68030 microprocessor. The company also introduced the FDHD - Floppy Drive High Density - Apple's new 1.44 MB floppy disk drive that can read and write to MS-DOS, OS/2, and ProDOS disks.
Apple IIc Plus
Claris releases AppleWorks GS, a powerful program available for the Apple IIgs.
Apple IIgs can be upgraded to 7.0 MHz with Applied Engineering's Transwarp GS.
Speed, memory, video power
Claris upgrades a classic with AppleWorks 3.0.
The Apple II Video Overlay Card is introduced. It works with the Apple IIgs and the Apple IIe to superimpose screen images - text or graphics - on video images from video tapes or disks.
Roger Wagner Publishing turns the Apple IIgs into a hypermedia workstation with its revolutionary HyperStudio software.
The Apple IIgs system software, version 5, is announced. It's the first 16-bit operating system for the Apple IIgs that operates over the AppleTalk network system.
Apple introduces a new Apple IIgs with 1 MB of RAM standard, at a price of $1,149.
Claris proves AppleWorks can get better with the release of AppleWorks 3.0 Networked Version.
Apple announces two new Macintosh computers: the Macintosh Portable and the Macintosh IIci. The Macintosh Portable is a full-function Macintosh in a portable design. The Macintosh IIci is a high-performance version of the Macintosh IIcx, with built-in video and a 68030 Motorola processor running at 25 MHz.
The next step toward the future
The new Apple II High-Speed SCSI Card is introduced.
The Macintosh IIfx is introduced, Apple's most powerful computer at the time.
In a videotaped message to educators in the United States, Apple reaffirms its commitment to Apple II users, and to bridging the gap between the Apple II and Macintosh lines. John Sculley promises that a future, entry-level, color Macintosh will have an option to run Apple II software.
HyperCard IIgs, the Apple IIgs version of Apple's personal information management software for different media types, including video, graphics, and sound, is introduced. While retaining compatibility with version 1.2.5 for the Macintosh, HyperCard IIgs supports the color capability of the Apple IIgs and sells for $99.
System software 5.0.4 for the Apple IIgs is released. It includes much faster printer drivers for the ImageWriter. For Apple IIe and Apple IIc owners, ProDOS 1.9 makes switching between programs much easier than previous versions.
Bridging the gap between Apple II and Macintosh
The Apple IIe Card ships for Macintosh LC. This card allows Macintosh LC owners to run Apple IIe software while taking advantage of the RAM, keyboard, mouse, and monitor of the Macintosh LC. It retails for $199.
Macintosh LC and Apple IIe Card
The AppleCD SC Plus ships. It's approximately 20 percent faster than the AppleCD SC. It costs $799.
Apple announces plans for new Apple II enhancement products: Apple IIgs system software 6 and HyperCard IIgs 1.2. Apple IIgs system software 6 includes three new File System Translators, two support read-only access to Pascal and DOS 3.3-formatted disks, and one that supports reading and writing to Macintosh-formatted disks.
UG TV - UserGroup TV - is Apple's first ever user group broadcast. The satellite broadcast features on-air demonstrations by Apple product managers and product engineers, and an interactive question and answer session for both Apple II and Macintosh enthusiasts.
Apple releases the Apple II 3.5 Controller Card. Users now have the power to use 1.4 MB 3.5-inch floppy disk drives with an Apple IIe or Apple IIgs computer. The II 3.5 Controller Card also supports the Apple II UniDisk and the Apple 3.5 Drives.
Apple II users brace for the inevitable
Apple IIgs system software 6 is released. It includes a driver to allow the Apple IIgs to use the StyleWriter printer.
Nibble, a mainstay magazine of the Apple II community, ceases production.
The Apple IIgs is discontinued.
The end of the line
inCider/A+, long time champion of the Apple II platform, ceases publication.
Apple IIgs system software 6.0.1 is released.
John Sculley resigns his position as CEO of Apple Computer, Inc.