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Apple Inc (AAPL) formerly Apple Computing Inc., is an American multinational corporation that specializes in the design and sale of personal computers, software and consumer electronics. Started by the late Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976 and incorporated without Wayne in January of 1977. From the humble beginnings Apple has become one of the largest corporations in the world in terms of market capitalization with annual revenue that dwarfs some countries.

Apple’s initial success came on the back of Visicalc, the original ‘killer app’ for business computing. The spreadsheet gave Apple business sales it desperately needed and sales of the Apple II computer put the company on the map. But it was the Macintosh, introduced in 1984, with its GUI that vindicated Steve Jobs vision of the future of computing birthing the desktop publishing market with Pagemaker and PostScript laser printing. But various mis-steps with The Mac, the removal of Jobs from his own company and Microsoft’s success with Windows 3.1 put Apple in a bind. They had the upper end of the market, with high margins and low sales numbers, while Microsoft captured the commodity, low-end computing market and massive market share.

Jobs was brought back to the company as an adviser after Apple bought NeXT and the NeXTSTEP OS, which was Unix based. Jobs became interim CEO in 1997 and made a deal with Microsoft for $150 million in non-voting stock and porting the latest version of Microsoft Office to the Macintosh.

It was in this period that Apple began focusing The Mac towards professionals in digital production of content: music, film, art, books, etc. Final Cut Pro became industry standard for digital editing with over 800,000 users by 2007. But, it was the ditching of the old Operating System architecture that allowed this transition to take place. Mac OS/X, a mix of NeXT’s OPENSTEP and FreeBSD Unix was released in 2001.

With the transition to using Intel processors, as the PowerPC line from IBM/Motorola could not compete, Apple began rebuilding its computing hardware’s competitiveness to the PC world running Windows. The stock began to take off and eventually humbled Dell by 2006 even though Apple only had 8% of the desktop market.

It was, however the introduction of the iPod and iTunes which began the Apple stock meteoric rise to the top of the charts, creating a brand, an interface and popularizing the design concepts that previous Apple customers were willing to pay large premiums for. In 2007 the company changed its name to Apple Inc. announced the iPhone and the rest is history. The iPhone and iPad’s gesturing interface is the present and future of personal computing and along with Siri pushing the way we interact with our computers into even more intuitive and human ways. The iPhone 5 is due to be announced in mid-2012.

With the passing of Steve Jobs the future is unclear about Apple’s ability to innovate. The Apple stock quote continues to climb and the company’s market capitalization, earnings, cash flow and top-line revenue continue to expand at rates few people seem willing to consider.

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