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Great American Companies: A Brief History Of Apple Inc.

Wayne Duggan

As the U.S. enters the 2020s, its economy is bigger and arguably stronger than ever before. But America didn’t reach the pinnacle of the global market on the backs of today’s top companies alone.

Dozens of U.S. companies have served as blue chip investments and economic growth drivers throughout the decades. Each week, Benzinga will spotlight one of these companies.

One of the biggest and best U.S. companies entering the 2020s is Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL).

Apple was famously birthed in co-founder Steve Jobs’ garage in Palo Alto in 1976. Jobs and co-founders Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne began with the production of the Apple I personal computer, which initially sold for $666. From September 1977 and September 1980, Apple’s sales grew from $775,000 to $118 million, an annual growth rate of more than 500%.

Apple opted to go public in December 1980 at a price of $22. By mid-1987, the share price had grown to around $83, and the company implemented a two-to-one stock split.

Jobs’ Departure

Apple faced increasingly stiff competition from IBM (NYSE: IBM) in the early 1980s, and tensions between Jobs and CEO John Sculley eventually resulted in Jobs and Wozniak leaving the company in 1985.

In the early 1990s Apple attempted to expand its business with new devices that completely flopped. Digital cameras, CD players, TV appliances and the infamous Newton MessagePad all flopped. Meanwhile, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) was growing and gaining more market share with its Windows operating system.

From the beginning of 1991 to the beginning of 1998, Apple shares lost 76% of their value and investors were getting desperate. Jobs returned to Apple as interim CEO in July 1997. After stopping the bleeding by announcing a partnership with Microsoft and the launch of the iMac PC in 1998, the interim title was dropped.

The iPhone Era

Following the turn of the millennium, Apple and Jobs could do no wrong. The iPod launched in 2001 and sold 100 million units in its first six years. The iPhone launched in 2007 and became the best selling product of all time.

Jobs resigned from his position in 2011 due to health concerns, but new CEO Tim Cook carried on his legacy following Jobs’ death later that year. Today, Apple is focusing on expanding its business internationally and transitioning to a more services-oriented business model.

Apple Stock

Apple is currently the most valuable American company with a market cap of $1.39 trillion. Since the beginning of 1998, Apple’s stock has generated a total return of more than 77,680%.

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