Apple's biggest milestones

The company has done some pretty amazing things in its history. Here's a look back.

Ian Sherr
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
1 of 17 James Martin/CNET

​April 1, 1976 - Apple starts

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer in the Jobs' family garage in Los Altos, California. The company unveiled the Apple II in 1977, essentially creating a mass market for personal computers. Apple went public in 1981.

2 of 17 Apple advertisement

​January 1984 - Macintosh computer

Apple grabbed the world's attention with the 1984 introduction of the Macintosh. The company unveiled the new machine at an event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, not long after airing a Super Bowl ad directed by Ridley Scott. The Mac wasn't the first computer with a "graphical user interface" that relied on icons rather than command lines. That honor belonged to the Xerox Star. Even so, the Mac influenced the personal computing industry and prompted more intuitive software.

3 of 17 James Martin/CNET

​1985 - Steve Jobs is ousted

Apple ousted Steve Jobs in 1985, marking one of the most dramatic moments in tech history. It was also a key milestone in Jobs' career. Jobs co-founded NeXT Computer that year. In 1986, he bought animation studio Pixar from Lucasfilm for $5 million. Apple bought NeXT in 1996 for more than $400 million, while Disney paid more than $7 billion to buy Pixar in 2006.

4 of 17 James Martin/CNET

July 1997 - Steve Jobs returns as CEO

Shortly after Apple bought NeXT acquisition, Steve Jobs forced then-CEO Gil Amelio out. That made Jobs the de facto CEO of Apple in 1997. He joked he was iCEO -- interim, get it? -- but wasted no time rebuilding a company that was on the verge of bankruptcy. He convinced Microsoft to invest $150 million and support Office for the Mac for the next five years, even as he jettisoned many Apple's products. Among those cut: the cult-favorite Newton personal assistant.

5 of 17 Courtesy of Apple Computer

August 1998 - iMac

Steve Jobs rejuvenated Apple with the first iMac. Its colorful, translucent design stunned the tech industry, prompting other computer makers to move away from their standard gray boxes. The iMac was also famous for what it didn't have: A floppy disk drive. Jobs decided the world would move to CDs and Internet downloads and away from disks. It was a controversial move, but he was right.

6 of 17 Kim Kulish, Corbis SABA

​January & October 2001 - iTunes and iPod

The iPod wasn't the first digital music player, but it quickly became the most popular. Launched in 2001, the iPod became the primary driver of Apple's renaissance. Analysts called it a "halo" product that drew people into Apple's stores, where they sometimes bought other products too.

Apple's iTunes software, which offered people an easy way to manage lots of music, contributed to the iPod's success. Apple released the software for Microsoft Windows in 2003, the same year Apple launched the iTunes Store, selling songs for 99 cents apiece and creating the online music market.

7 of 17 EPA

March 2001 - OS X

Apple's OS X was a marriage of NeXT's software and Apple's designs. The technology built in OS X was later used in the software that powered the iPhone, the iPad and the Apple Watch.

8 of 17 James Martin/CNET

​January 2007 - iPhone

Steve Jobs showed off Apple's first iPhone during a keynote presentation at the 2007 Macworld Expo in San Francisco. He said Apple would "reinvent the phone." He was right. The device went on sale in the US on June 29. Since then, Apple has sold more than 2 billion iPhones, making it one of the largest phone makers in the world. The day the iPhone was announced, the company also changed its name from Apple Computer to Apple Inc.

9 of 17 CNET

​January 2007 - Apple TV

Originally announced in 2006, the Apple TV launch was easily overshadowed by the company's iPhone announcement. It didn't help that Apple kept calling it "a hobby," an effort to keep us from wondering whether the company was betting Apple TV could be as large as the iPhone. Of course, it isn't. Still, the device has helped inspire Apple's push into entertainment, and its namesake is part of Apple's services push.

10 of 17 James Martin/CNET

​April 2010 - iPad

Apple followed up with the iPad in 2010, finally giving the tablet market the jolt it needed to go mainstream. The iPad inspired Apple to make thinner laptops, which in turn pushed the tech industry to do the same. During a 2010 interview, Steve Jobs said Apple had begun working on the iPad before the iPhone, but realized a phone needed the touchscreen software first.

11 of 17 James Martin

​August 2011 - Tim Cook becomes CEO

After three medical leaves, a surgery and a liver transplant, Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple's CEO, naming Tim Cook in his place. Jobs remained the company's chairman until his death about two months later. He was 56.

12 of 17 James Martin/CNET

​September 2014 - iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

The Apple Watch, unveiled at an event in September 2014, was the first new product line released after Steve Jobs' death. It went on sale in April 2015. Apple hasn't released sales data, and the tech community can't decide whether it's a success or a failure.

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​September 2016 - Apple's AirPods offer a new type of wireless headphone

When they were first introduced, Apple's AirPods were ridiculed for their bulky design. But the $150 device, which Apple promised was easier to pair and use with your devices because of special wireless chips the company developed, have become a hit

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​September 2017 - The iPhone X changes things up

For a decade, the front of Apple's iPhones looked pretty much the same, with large bezels on the top and bottom that were used for a home button, fingerprint reader or selfie cam. The iPhone X did away with that style, removing the home button and expanding the selfie cam, which now has sensors for identifying users with Face ID. Apple called it "the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone." It was also Apple's first new iPhone to cost $999, instead of the typical $650. Despite the high price, Apple said it quickly became a best-seller.

15 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

August 2018 - Apple becomes the highest-valued company, ever

To Apple faithful, the company was already of high value. In the summer of 2018, the stock market made offered its opinion when it pushed the company's market capitalization to more than a trillion dollars, the first time that level had been reached by a US company. In a memo sent to Apple employees, CEO Tim Cook called the valuation a "significant milestone" but added that it wasn't the "most important measure" of the company's success.

16 of 17 Captura de pantalla por Juan Garzon/CNET

March 2019 - Apple switches to services

After more than four decades making money primarily by selling gadgets, Apple said it intended to expand efforts in monthly subscriptions. The company unveiled Apple TV Plus, a streaming service for original shows funded by Apple, Apple News Plus, a news service with access to about 300 publications, and Apple Arcade, a video game service.

17 of 17 Apple

March 2019 - Apple has a credit card now

Apple also said it was creating a credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs and MasterCard. Like so many things from the Cupertino, California tech giant, it's designed to stand out. The card is made of titanium, doesn't have any numbers on it, and is more of a tech accessory to the company's Apple Pay wireless payments system than a standalone credit card.

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