- 20 years ago, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the company was in rough shape.
- One computer, the iMac, put Apple back on track.
- Current Apple CEO Tim Cook shared a video from that launch over the weekend.
20 years ago today, Steve introduced the world to iMac. It set Apple on a new course and forever changed the way people look at computers. pic.twitter.com/GbKno7YBHl-; Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 6, 2018
"You gotta see this thing in person, but I'll do the best I can with video. This is iMac, the whole thing is translucent, you can see into it. It's so cool. We've got stereo speakers on the front, we've got infrared right here, we've got the CD-ROM drive right in the middle, we've got dual stereo headphone jacks. We got the coolest mouse on the planet right here. Come on around. All of the connectors are inside one beautiful little door right here. Around the back, we've got a really great handle here. The back of this thing looks better than the front of the other guys, by the way."
The iMac, which started at $1299, is one of the most important products in Apple history. When it was unveiled in May 1998, it was one of the first computers that really didn't look like a computer -- it sort of looked like a TV from the future.
The colorful translucent casing was designed by Jony Ive, Apple's head designer today, and although he had been working at the company for a few years, the iMac was the first computer he was really able to put his mark on.
It was also a critical release for Jobs, who had just rejoined the company in 1997, taking over the (interim) CEO role once again after he was booted out during the 1980s. Apple was near-death at the time, and Jobs was committed to bringing it back to glory. May 1998 was just about the time that Jobs was able to poach a rising operations star from Compaq, Tim Cook, who is now Apple's CEO.
"It's been 10 months since the new management team took over at Apple, people have been working really hard, you can see a lot of cars in the parking lots on nights and weekends. And because of their hard work, I'm really pleased to report to you today that Apple is back on track," Jobs said during the presentation.
He was right. It was the start of Apple getting back on track. Its share price closed at $1.08 per share on May 6, 1998. Now the share price is $186.57, even after a 7-to-1 split in 2014, and the company is worth $910 billion, making it the most valuable publicly traded company in the world.
You can watch the entire launch below:
Here's a graphic showing the progression of Apple's all-in-one desktops: