It was not a fairy tale ride for Apple! There was time once, when Apple was a disaster. The company's late co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs’ vision helped save the company and build it to what it is now.
In 1996, knowing he had to do something dramatic, Apple's then CEO Amelio negotiated a deal to buy NeXT, the computer company owned by Jobs, in hopes that he would bring some much-needed direction to the company.
Instead of the business deal, Steve was cunning enough to get Amelio fired and decided to save Apple even if he had to take lifelines from rival Microsoft.
In late 1996, Apple announced plans to bring cofounder Steve Jobs back into the fold 11 years after he left the company by acquiring his startup NeXT for $429 million — just in time for Jobs to join then-Apple CEO Gil Amelio on stage at January 1997's Macworld Expo, a convention for Mac enthusiasts, as a keynote speaker.
Steve Jobs' NeXT found its niche selling graphically intensive PCs with cutting-edge screens to universities and banks. Apple hoped that Jobs would revitalize the Mac maker, whose stock had hit a 12-year low under Amelio's leadership and experienced crippling losses. On July 4, 1997, Jobs persuaded Apple's board to oust Amelio and make Jobs the interim, and then permanent, CEO. In August 1997, Jobs took the stage at another Macworld Expo to announce that Apple had taken a $150 million investment from its long-time rivals at Microsoft. "We need all the help we can get," Jobs said, to boost from the audience.
Also in 1998, Jobs hired an executive named Tim Cook to head up Apple's worldwide operations. Cook would stay with the company, eventually becoming CEO.
Behind the scenes, Jobs was making some big changes for Apple employees, too: Under Jobs, the Apple cafeteria got much better food, and employees were barred from bringing their pets to the campus. He wanted everybody focused on Apple.
Almost exactly a year after that Microsoft cash came in, in August 1998, Apple would release the iMac, an all-in-one, high-performance computer co-designed by Jobs and new talent Jonathan Ive. In 2001 Apple opened its first retail stores, in Virginia and California.
In October, Jobs' Apple would take its first steps beyond the Mac with the iPod, a digital music player that promised "1,000 songs in your pocket." The iPod actually got off to a slow start, largely because it started at a pricey $399 and worked only on Macs.
Jobs made his last public appearance in June 2011. He proposed a new Apple Campus to the Cupertino City Council. After years of construction, Apple is planning to move into the "spaceship campus" in early 2017.
Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO on August 24, 2011, accepting a role as chairman, after his pancreatic cancer relapsed.