Steve Jobs’s legacy includes groundbreaking computing and technology products from the Apple II to the iPhone. Here are 10 of the best
Handbuilt by Steve Wozniak – the bearded sidekick to Steve Jobs – the Apple II was released in 1977, just 12 months after the very first Apple computer, the Apple I. Unlike that Apple I, which was assembled in Jobs’s parents’ garage, the Apple II signalled the Apple co-founder’s early drive. Some years later, he was reported as saying: “My dream for the Apple II was to sell the first real packed computer.” The Apple II duly became the fastest-selling personal computer of its time, fetching $79m in sales in 1979.
The first Macintosh
The Macintosh 128K was released in January 1984 “with all the showbiz of a car launch”. And what a launch it was. No technology company would have dared dream about flaunting a personal computer in a multimillion-dollar Superbowl slot, but Apple did. The Macintosh 128J was different thought – it wasn’t especially for business or bespectacled engineers; it was comparatively easy to use.
Three years after his return to Apple in 1998, Jobs urged the world to “think different”. But no one anticipated the iMac, the computer that kickstarted Apple’s fortunes and propelled the company to where it is today. As the Guardian review from 14 May 1998 noted: “nobody who attended last week’s product launch expected to find the most radical Macintosh since the original hit the streets 14 years ago … There isn’t even a floppy drive.”
Unveiled a decade ago this month, the iPod is the one device that transformed Apple from a computer company into a mass-market electronics giant – and would later spark a revolution in digital music. Though many who bought it had to hack their computers to store music on it, the first-generation iPod was a stylish MP3 player boasting a 10-hour battery life and space for 1,000 songs. “Listening to music will never be the same again,” said Jobs at its launch in October 2001.
The iPod nano
Steve Jobs discontinued the iPod mini at the height of its popularity in September 2005. His indefatigable drive for design and efficiency saw it replaced with the much smaller nano. Apple reinvented the nano in September 2010 with its sixth iteration. At 21.1g the new nano was 15g lighter than its predecessor and half the height.
Less than half a decade after the iPod, Apple was already the biggest name in digital music. After months of rumour and anticipation, Jobs, in January 2007, unveiled what would quickly become Apple’s killer product. The phone was a hit with techies and non-techies alike. A typically fervent Stephen Fry reviewed the iPhone four months after its launch. “Beauty. Charm. Delight. Excitement. Ooh. Aah. Wow! Let me at it,” he wrote in the Guardian. With the fifth incarnation unveiled earlier this week, the excitement has not yet dissipated.
Until Jobs unveiled iTunes in January 2001, no one had been able to convince music label executives that people might pay for songs online. Announced at the back end of a 90-minute keynote to launch the new Macintosh, iTunes was an unexciting “all-in-one digital music program” that brought together MP3 playback, internet radio and CD writing. This week Apple began letting people access their digital music across any of their devices wirelessly. It is the beginning of Apple’s cloud revolution.
Apple’s so-called “Jesus tablet” was everything that everyone didn’t need on its launch in January 2010. Less than a year later, Apple had invented a new market and intentionally spawned hundreds of poor-man copycats. Dubbed “the oversized iPhone” with a 9.7in screen, Apple’s lean-back device would be the saviour of the media industry. Research group Gartner last month forecast that tablet computers will see an explosion in sales over the next four years, selling 60% as many units as PCs by 2015 – and Apple’s iPad will still have almost half the market by then.
iOS App Store
Apple announced a new milestone for its App Store in July this year: 15bn downloads (of more than 500,000 apps) since it launched in July 2008. The App Store has become the cornerstone to the iPhone’s success, with the world’s media giants all scrambling for a prominent place on the smartphone of choice – and spawning a new market for software developers. Pundits called it the future of mobile consumption, and Apple has since expanded its App Store to OS X computers, potentially ushering in a new age of software development.
One more thing: Apple stores
Apple opened its first retail store on 19 May 2001, in Glendale, California. As of July this year, Apple had opened more than 350 stores worldwide, with the largest in London’s Covent Garden. Most thought Apple’s move into physical retail space was madness – but they did not foresee that the philosophy, design and layout of the stores would encapsulate what drives Jobs. Customers have since flocked to the Genius Bar.