Forty years ago the U.S. was marking the bicentennial, the Cold War was raging, “Son of Sam” was terrorizing New York City, and two nerds brainstorming in a Los Altos, California garage were about the change the world.
It was Steve Wozniak who designed the hardware, guts and operating system of what would be called the Apple 1 computer.
But it was the other visionary, Steve Jobs, who came up with innovative design and strategy for marketing the newfangled device to the masses — and who sold his Volkswagen van for $1,300 to launch the Apple Computer Company on April 1, 1976.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In the spirit of celebration and nostalgia, here are 40 things about Apple at 40 you might not know about the company and the creators of the remarkable and revolutionary devices that have become an important part of so many of our lives:
1.) Wozniak was 26 and Jobs was 21 when they started Apple.
2.) Wozniak was designing calculators by day for Hewlett-Packard and building devices at night that would allow him to make long distance calls for free. Jobs was working in the electronics department for the games manufacturer Atari.
3.) Jobs got the idea of creating a computer with Wozniak when the Altair 8800, a build-it-yourself computer, was featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine.
4.) The Internet was in its infancy. The few cell phones around were the size of footballs and had limited range and talk time. And the video games dominating the market were things like Wheels, Sea Wolf, and, of course, Pong.
5.) The name Apple was chosen by Jobs in honor of the fruit that purportedly inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity by falling on his head from a tree. It was also Jobs’ favorite fruit.
6.) Jobs said his design aesthetic was influenced by the modernist architectural style of Joseph Eichler — and by Buddhism.
7.) Apple had a third founding member named Ron Wayne, who worked with Jobs at Atari. He designed the original Apple logo. But worried about money, he sold his share of the company for $800. When he retired, it was to a mobile home park in Nevada.
8.) The first 200 Apple 1 computers Wozniak and Jobs sold were to fellow computer nerds in the San Francisco Bay Area for $666 apiece.
9.) When Wozniak began dreaming up the Apple 2, Jobs hired high school kids to assemble them in his garage.
10.) Jobs recruited Silicon Valley ad man Regis McKenna to design the iconic Apple logo. A year after the company launched, it raked in $1 million in sales. By the end of 1978 it was the fastest growing company in the country.
11.) Apple went public in 1980. The 4.6 million shares at $22 each sold out in minutes.
12.) To give you a sense of how wildly successful Apple became, Macworld estimated the investment in Apple that one of the central characters in the movie “Forrest Gump” made back in the 1970s (they figured around $100,000) would be worth about $91.5 million now.
13.) The Apple 3, launched in 1980, was priced at $3,495. But it was buggy and did not sell well. It was discontinued in 1984.
14.) Apple tried to take on computer giant IBM with a business-oriented computer called the Lisa. It was a bust. But it employed innovations like a mouse and on-screen graphics that Apple used in its new personal computer called the Macintosh. And that, needless to say, was a huge success.
15.) Jobs introduced the Mac as the “people’s computer” in a spectacular “1984” Super Bowl commercial.
16.) More than 70,000 of the boxy Macs sold in the first 100 days when it debuted in 1984.
17.) Despite the success of the Macs, Apple was roiled by internal fighting. Wozniak split. Jobs was ousted. And John Sculley took over.
18.) By 1988, Apple had sold more than a million Macs.
19.) Sculley was ousted in 1993, ushering in an era of instability and bad business moves, and by 1997 Apple reported $1 billion in losses. Apple stock, which traded at $70 a share in 1991, was worth just $14 a share.
20.) Jobs returned to the helm of Apple in 1997 a dozen years after his ouster, and set about saving the company he started.
21.) Apple unveiled the new slogan “Think Different” to rebut IBM’s motto “Think,” and to re-establish the company’s image as an industry outsider.
22.) The iMac computer was unveiled in 1998 and was an immediate success. Soon, Apple was back in the black.
23.) One of the first things Jobs did on his return was dump Apple’s rainbow logo and replace it with the monochromatic one that remains to this day.
24.) The first Apple store was opened in 2001 in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Four years later, there were 125 stores in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Britain.
25.) Apple introduced the iPod in 2001. It featured five gigabytes of storage, held as many as 1,000 songs, and sold for $399. It was a smashing success.
26.) The 10 gigabyte iPod came out in 2002, followed by the iPod Mini, the iPod Shuffle and the iPod Nano. Meanwhile, Apple’s sales tripled between 2001 and 2005 from $5.3 billion to $13.9 billion.
27.) Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. Once again, it was huge success.
28.) “Apple reinvents the phone” was the slogan used to sell the new device, which actually lacked features competing smartphones already had, like 3G connectivity and GPS.
29.) When Jobs in 2008 unveiled the iPhone 3G, which now had 3G and GPS, it was marketed as "the iPhone you have been waiting for.”
30.) Amid all the hoopla over the standard-setting cell phone, Apple quietly dropped the “Computer Company” from its name. Now the official name is Apple Inc.
31.) Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.
32.) By 2012, the Apple brand was valued by Interbrand at $182.9 billion.
33.) Although Wozniak left Apple years ago, he revealed in his autobiography “iWoz” that he remains on the company payroll with a stipend estimated at $120,000 a year.
34.) Jobs was described by his official biographer Walter Isaacson as a “creative entrepreneur.”
35.) The modest 1950s ranch home where Jobs grew up and where the first Apple computers were built got landmark status in 2013.
36.) Jobs was played in the 2015 movie “Steve Jobs” by Michael Fassbender.
37.) Apple’s first foray in the smartwatch market last year generated nearly 1 million pre-orders.
38.) A vintage Apple-1 computer from 1976 was auctioned off in 2014 for $365,000.
39.) Apple fought the feds when the FBI tried to get the company to give it access to encrypted data on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
40.) GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump called for boycotting Apple unless the company helped the FBI.
Bonus: What would life be like without Apple? We'd be wired like South Korea, PC Magazine speculated back in 2009.