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Apple’s path to $1 trillion

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Apple is the first U.S. company to reach a market cap of $1 trillionThe price of a single Apple share crossed $207.0425 a little before noon ET on Thursday. Multiply that by 4,829,926,000 shares outstanding and you get one trillion dollars.

Steve Jobs speaks in front of a file photograph of himself and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak during the launch of the Apple iPad tablet at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco on Jan. 27, 2010. Apple Inc., trying to expand beyond the Macintosh, iPod and iPhone, introduced the iPad, a tablet computer with a touch screen. (Tony Avelar/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Here are the key milestones along Apple’s tumultuous journey to becoming the first trillion dollar company in America. 

April 1976: Apple is born

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, after dropping out of Reed College and UC Berkeley respectively, cobbled together the Apple I computer in Jobs’ garage, which they would go on to sell without a monitor or keyboard. The company eventually became incorporated on January 3, 1977.

June 1977: The release of the original Apple II

The Apple II revolutionized the personal computer industry. The device’s color graphics and user-friendly design were considered to be game-changing innovations at the time. In April 1977, the now defunct Byte magazine predicted that the Apple II “may be the first product to fully qualify as the ‘appliance computer’ … a completed system which is purchased off the retail shelf, taken home, plugged in and used”. In its March 1978 review, Byte concluded, “For the user that wants color graphics, the Apple II is the only practical choice available in the ‘appliance’ computer class.”

December 1980: Apple goes public

Average investors get to take a bite out of Apple, which was still considered a risky upstart at the time. The company sold 4.6 million shares at $22 per share under the stock symbol “AAPL,” on the NASDAQ. The public offering generated more capital than any other debut since Ford (F) in 1956.

April 1983: A new CEO takes the helm

Jobs poaches John Sculley, who was the president of Pepsi at the time, to become the tech company’s CEO. They banked on his marketing expertise to drive sales, especially for the new Lisa computer.

1985: Wozniak and Jobs leave

Both founders leave Apple for different reasons. Wozniak is uninterested in the day-to-day operations of the business. Jobs, who had wooed Sculley to the company, finds himself in conflict with the CEO and leaves as well. Jobs goes on to found his own company NeXT Software.

February 1997: Jobs returns

Apple finalizes its deal to buy NeXT Software for $427 million. Jobs rejoins Apple as interim CEO and replaces Gil Amelio, who is ousted by the board of directors.  

November 1997: The Apple Store

Apple launches its own online retail store. It becomes the new direct sales avenue that ties into its build-to-order vision for manufacturing.

May 2001: A push into brick and mortar

Apple announces its line of Apple retail stores, which have since become an integral part of the company’s footprint. Apple stores are now blossoming into sprawling “Town Squares.”

October 2001: The first iPod

Apple introduces its first portable digital audio player. The 6.5-ounce, 5-gigabyte device is capable of storing 1,000 downloaded songs. The first iPod retails for $399.

April 2003: iTunes makes a splash

iTunes Music Store, a platform that allows customers to purchase songs for 99 cents each, without subscription fees, launches in the U.S. It goes live with over 200,000 songs from artists represented by most major music labels. The store sold its 1 billionth song three years later in February 2006.

January 2006: iMac and Macbook Pro come to life

The company’s first Intel-based machines are introduced to the market.

January 2007: Apple enters the cellphone market

After years of speculation, Jobs announces the iPhone, a device that combines the first widescreen iPod with a mobile device. The first version became available in June 2007.

January 2010: The iPad takes the stage

The company announces the half phone-half computer device. Though there were fears of cannibalization of its other products, Apple’s 2010 financial results mentioned a ‘halo’ effect — iPad sales led to more Mac sales.

August 2011: Tim Cook appointed CEO

After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Jobs decides to step aside from his duties as CEO. He appoints Tim Cook, who had joined Apple in 1998 as senior vice president of worldwide operations.

October 2011: Jobs passes away

Just six weeks after resigning as CEO, Jobs dies due to complications from cancer. 

May 2014: Beats acquisition

Apple acquires rapper Dr. Dre’s popular headphone and speaker company, in addition to its streaming service Beats Music.

September 2014: Apple announces Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is the first new product since Jobs’ departure. It receives mixed reviews, as it can’t function beyond basic features without WiFi or Bluetooth.

September 2017: Apple announces three new iPhones

The iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X are announced at the Steve Jobs Theater in the Apple Park campus. The iPhone X, with a $1,000 price tag, commemorates the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.

August 2018: Market cap hits $1 trillion.

(David Foster, Oath)

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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