Franky, I’m sick to death of writing about Apple and Epic, so I figured I would take a little time to look back this evening. First off, Tim Cook officially took the reigns from Steve Jobs nine years ago today. I remember I was working on a project in Tupelo, MS, both when it was announced that he was taking over on August 24th, and again six weeks later when Mr Jobs passed away. I was writing for iSource.com at the time and I clearly remember all of the uncertainty that seemed to surround the company at the time.
Most people, even many Apple fans, figured there were tough times ahead. All of their success had been directly attributed to Jobs’ seemingly Midas Touch, both with the development of the Mac in his first stint and the dramatic turnaround of the company in the late 90s, starting with the iMac and leading to a string of bigger and bigger hits. While Jony Ive and the executive team that Jobs assembled was in place, well trained and had been groomed to take control, many still wondered how could they sustain that momentum without Job’s leadership?
Fast forward to today and Apple is a $2 TRILLION company and their stock closed at a new record of $503.43. Apple’s current position, product lineup and reach would have been unimaginable, even at the height of Jobs’ second tenure. No one, not even the sunniest of sunshine pumping Apple fanboys could have predicted this back in 2011. Tim Cook isn’t perfect, but there is no question how good of a job he has done moving Apple from the Jobs era to where it is today.
The second anniversary is for a far less positive moment in Apple history. Windows 95 was released 25 years ago today. Microsoft had a lead in the computer OS market before, but the barrier to entry for DOS was high and Windows 3.1 had an objectively inferior interface. While most longtime Mac fans will tell you Win 95 was just as inferior, paired with a superior processor architecture, it was good enough to push Microsoft far beyond Apple’s reach.
As a lifelong Windows users, Windows 95 was really the beginning of my personal computing experience. My high school had Apple IIs, but we never did that much with them. I had a Commodore 64 and 128 at home, but it was for gaming and the occasional school paper that I needed to type. I had an old 286 laptop (with a craptastic monochrome screen) in college that ran Windows 3.1, but I had little interest in it because it was so out of date.
I took a year off between my undergrad studies and grad school in 1997 while living in Tallahasee, FL. I had just gotten married and got a part-time job. A family member gave me a responsibly speced desktop running Windows 95 as a wedding gift and I suddenly found myself with the free time to use it. I took to it like nothing else I had ever tried. I learned Win 95 and that machine inside and out. That OS certainly had its warts, but it got me started on a journey that ended with me working as a programmer and systems integrator. I can’t help but tip my cap to the OS that helped to give me my start.
My personal experience aside, Windows 95 was the beginning of the end for 90s version of Apple that’s sort of hard to remember these days. Along with some really poor leadership, the market changes that came with Win 95 and its successor almost buried Apple. However, it was these same changes that also brought about the conditions for Steve Jobs’ return to the company. So in a way, Windows 95 ended up being a push Apple needed.
Whether you look back 9 years or 25 years, it’s just hard to imagine where Apple is today through those lenses. I guess that’s a testament to just how good Steve Jobs was and Tim Cook has been as CEO at Apple.