08 June 2009

Apple's Business Plan and Offering Memorandum

Apple is one of the most fascinating companies, ever.

As a kid I was a huge fan-- my first computer was an Apple IIe, and I discovered at an early age both the joys of programming (I could code a program to make a Pac Man open and close his mouth) and the thrills of software piracy (it was quite easy to put a piece of tape over the write-protect chit on the big 5 1/4 inch floppy discs and duplicate a friend's entire Castle Wolfenstein collection over the course of a weekend).

Then, like almost everyone else-- save for a few artist and graphic-design types-- I switched to a PC with the release of Windows 3.0, and never looked back. With a very mild tinge of sadness, I watched as Apple's market share slowly but continuously eroded, and as the company struggled with notable flopss like the Newton PDA and as Steve Jobs struggled to get NeXT off the ground. Apple appeared on its way toward being a footnote in business history.

Apple's turnaround is, of course, one of the greatest comeback stories ever written. Instead of battling it out with Dell, HP and Compaq as PCs became low-margin commodities, Apple returned to it's strengths in creative design, user experience and overall "look & feel" and went on to produce some of the most amazing products ever created.

So, with the company now at the peak of its game, it is amusing to take a look back and see how it all started. These documents are courtesy of the excellent Computer History Museum.

Here is Apple's Investor Offering Memorandum from 1978

and the original Business Plan for the Mac from 1981.

It's amazing to read how far Apple (and the computing industry) has come...enjoy!

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