What started off as a small company between two friends named Steve and Steve became one of the most dominant electronics companies of all time. From its humble beginnings hand building computers out of a garage (more on that later), Apple Computers eventually rebranded to Apple Inc. because, well, they make more money from things that are not computers.
Today, Apple is known more for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad than it is for the Macintosh computer which helped create the personal computer. These days, the company is known as much for being a status symbol on par with luxury cars as it is for a company that “thinks different” with “computers that just work.”
Where the late Steve Jobs is a household name, his partner Steve “Woz” Wozniak isn’t as widely known but they’re both famous enough thanks to two movies about Jobs’ life. A lot about the formation of the company in that film is from widely told stories. But just because the tales of the creation and running of Apple are well known doesn’t mean there aren’t any unexpected or surprising facts about Apple. So without any further ado, here are 15 facts about Apple Inc. that may shock you.
15. There Was a Third Founding Member of Apple
Everyone knows that Apple was started by Steve Jobs and Steve “Woz” Wozniak out of Jobs’ parent’s garage. Woz has already called the garage story a bit of a myth as it was only used to test out each hand-built Apple computer but the other thing that’s wrong with this story is there was a third founding member of Apple: Ronald Wayne. He was only part of the company for twelve days before being bought out by Woz and Jobs. Had he stayed with the company he would have been worth around $72 billion today. So how much did he sell his shares for in 1976? Just $800.
14. Apple has an On Staff Team of Carpenters to Build Walls Around Employees
Apple takes its security seriously. When the iPhone was being developed, it was only known by its codename M68 and the project was so compartmentalized that both the software and hardware engineers were kept away from each other so that neither group knew what the finished product would look like. But they take it one step further than just codewords. Apple also keeps an entire team of carpenters on hand to quickly build walls with security entrances around a group of engineers as soon as they begin working on something top secret. That means an employee could expect to show up one day and find their desk neighbour now behind a wall.
13. There’s a Landfill Filled with Lisa Computers
It’s hard to remember a time when Apple computers failed in a truly spectacular fashion but it has definitely happened in the past. One of the biggest failures was Apple’s Lisa computers which married a high price tag with constant delays to deliver a machine that few could afford. Try as they might to market the machine to sell — including slashing the price in half for the Lisa II — Apple decided to discontinue the line in favor of its more popular Macintosh line just a few years after the launch. In order to be able to write off the tax for the unsold machines, the leftover 2,700 machines that no one wanted were eventually dumped into a landfill in Logan, Utah.
12. The Apple Logo Used to be Upside-down on Laptops
No, that’s not Steve Wozniak working on an upside-down computer. In the 90s Apple began placing its fruity logo on laptops. However, when the lid was opened the logo would appear to be upside-down. It seems like an inexplicable choice for a company that places so much emphasis on design but the reasoning made sense at the time: it was so that the laptop users could easily know which side of the computer opened. But after seeing their logo on television and in movies upside-down Steve Jobs decided that it was a smarter branding move to turn the logo 180 degrees. After all, the user has already bought the laptop and will figure out which way is up pretty quickly.
11. The Original Logo Wasn’t the Rainbow Apple
The bitten apple logo has remained relatively unchanged for years. Sure, it’s been modified from the original rainbow version but the overall shape remains intact. However, the familiar rainbow logo wasn’t the first logo for the budding company. The very first logo featured Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree and was drawn by none-other-than the third founding member Ronald Wayne. There’s also no religious connection with the bitten apple logo — designer Jean Louis Gassée just thought the bite looked cute and presented that design to Jobs along with one without a bite. As for why the company was named Apple in the first place, Jobs was a fruitarian at the time and it was his favorite fruit.
10. The Apple I Sold for $666.66
Let’s toss in some more religious coincidences while we’re at it: the original Apple I sold for $666.66. The price tag on that first computer had nothing to do with the number of the beast and had everything to do with the fact that Woz just likes repeating numbers. That explains the repeating part of the price tag but why repeating sixes and not some other number? At the time, they marked up the price for their computers by a third. With the wholesale price coming in at $500, a third will bring you up to $666.66. Woz also states that it was just easier for him to type $666.66 rather than $667.
9. There are Six States Which do not have a Single Apple Store
Apple is everywhere. Their phones are pretty ubiquitous and you can’t go to a cafe without seeing at least one person working on a Macbook, if not every single person in the cafe. You would think that you could then find an Apple Store anywhere but you would be wrong. It’s not just that there are cities without an Apple Store but six entire states that are completely bereft of them. With Apple focusing on expanding the chain internationally, the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming are left out in the cold without an Apple Store of their own.
8. Apple Once Made a Gaming Console Called the Pippin
Loads of electronic companies have tried their hand at making a gaming console and everyone has heard of brands like Playstation and Nintendo. Even Microsoft entered the game with the Xbox. Surprisingly, Apple tried to make a go at the gaming market with a console back in 1996 called the Pippin. Unfortunately, it came out when everyone else was trying to make a console. With a hefty price tag of about $600 — or just under $950 in today’s dollars — Apple only made 100,000 units and only about half of those were sold. The Pippin joined other forgotten consoles from the era like the Panasonic 3D0 and the Pioneer LaserActive.
7. Apple Makes Fake Projects to Catch Employees Leaking Info
Here’s an ironic pun: It’s no secret that Apple is working on a bunch of secret projects. For a company that builds walls around employees to keep others out, we know that they take secrecy very seriously. In fact, they take it so seriously that some of the projects are completely fake. Apple routinely assigns these projects to both new hires and senior employees to see if the project makes it into the news. If the project leaks, they’ll be able to track down the source and fire the employee who let the word slip out. Makes you wonder if Apple really takes the X-Files motto “Trust No One” way too seriously.
6. The Famous “1984” Apple Commercial Only Played on TV Twice
The Macintosh has been one of the biggest selling computers in Apple history. When you think of an Apple computer invariably it’s the Mac you’re thinking of. The name is so ubiquitous that the company has basically taken to calling every computer a Mac in some way, shape, or form. But it all started with a single famous ad that played on New Year’s Eve in 1983 and once more again during the 1984 Superbowl. Based on George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and helmed by none-other-than Alien director Ridley Scott. The Orwell Estate sent a cease-and-desist to Apple and, despite becoming an important part of the company’s legend, the ad has only ever played publicly twice.
5. Why Apple MacIntosh is Spelled Differently
Speaking of the Apple Macintosh, ever wonder where the computer got its name? First of all, it’s not a Macintosh apple, it’s a McIntosh apple — so what gives? The computer was the brainchild of Apple employee Jef Raskin who wanted to create a low-cost computer and who’s favorite apple just so happened to be the McIntosh. Originally, that was just the codename for the project as the computer was going to be named Bicycle but the McIntosh name stuck. Unfortunately, there was already a company named McIntosh Laboratory, Inc. so Apple had to change the spelling from McIntosh to Macintosh to avoid any legal entanglements.
4. Apple Builds their Products Practically on Slave Labor…
There is a dark underbelly to Apple computers. Most of their products are built in China by a company named Foxconn and the conditions for the workforce there are brutal. Employees are housed in the compound with no contact with the outside world. They work for 15 hours a day with no breaks and every morning they are subjected to boot camp-like training. Should one of them be caught yawning, their pay gets docked. All of that work earns them only $40 a month and led to a rash of 18 attempted suicides in 2010 where workers tried to throw themselves off the top of the building.
3. …And Child Labor
Low pay and terrible work conditions are bad enough but we can also toss in something even more horrible into the mix: child labor. Back in 2010, it was discovered that there were 91 kids employed in Chinese factories to build Apple products. This was discovered again two years later in 2012 when another 106 children were found working. But it doesn’t stop there because — once again — in 2016 another Chinese company called Huayou Cobalt working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was found hiring 17 local kids between the ages of 9 and 17 who work up to 12 hours a day mining the cobalt used in Apple products.
2. Smoking Invalidates Your Warranty
Everyone knows that cracking open their electronic devices invalidates their warranty. So does dropping your phone into the toilet. But what is less known is that your health habits could also invalidate your warranty as well. If you smoke near your Apple computer or device you run the risk of Apple not servicing it because of the dangers caused by second-hand smoke — even if they have Applecare. Several consumers have previously learned that Apple technicians may refuse to work on the computers citing worker health regulations because nicotine is considered a hazardous substance. If you need a new reason not to smoke, this one seems to fit the bill.
1. Apple Has More Cash than the US Treasury
Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world so you would expect them to have a lot of cash on hand — but the amount is mind-boggling. The technology company has $246.09 billion in cash reserves as of January 2017. To give you some perspective, that number is almost as large as Denmark’s entire GDP and nearly 35% larger than the US Treasury’s reserve of $182.4 billion. Apple’s cash reserve alone would be the 13th largest company in the world if it was a publicly traded company. Of course, most of those dollars are kept overseas so if Apple tried to bring that money into the US, it would get taxed to kingdom come.
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