Apple Inc. is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Cupertino, California. The company designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. Its best-known hardware products are the Mac line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. Its software includes the OS X and iOS operating systems, the iTunes media browser, the Safari web browser, and the iLife and iWork creativity and production suites.

The company was founded on April 1, 1976, and incorporated on January 3, 1977 as "Apple Computer, Inc.". The word "Computer" was removed from its name on January 9, 2007, reflecting its shifted focus towards consumer electronics after the introduction of the iPhone.

Apple is one of the world's largest technology companies by revenue. It is the world's third-largest mobile phone maker after Samsung and Nokia. Fortune magazine named Apple the most admired company in the United States in 2008, and in the world from 2008 to 2012. However, the company has received criticism for its contractors' labor practices, and for Apple's own environmental and business practices.

As of November 2012, Apple has 394 retail stores in fourteen countries as well as the online Apple Store and iTunes Store. It is the largest publicly traded corporation in the world by market capitalization, with an estimated value of US$626 billion as of September 2012. The Apple market cap is larger than that of Google and Microsoft combined. As of September 29, 2012, the company had 72,800 permanent full-time employees and 3,300 temporary full-time employees worldwide. Its worldwide annual revenue in 2010 totaled $65 billion, growing to $156 billion in 2012.

Inception : Dream Turned into Reality

Apple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne to sell the "Apple I" personal computer kit. The kits were hand-built by Wozniak and first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple I was sold as a motherboard (with CPU, RAM, and basic textual-video chips), which is less than what is today considered a complete personal computer. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 and was market-priced at $666.66 ($2,723 in 2013 dollars, adjusted for inflation.)

Apple was incorporated January 3, 1977 without Wayne, who sold his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800. Multi-millionaire Mike Markkula provided essential business expertise and funding of $250,000 during the incorporation of Apple.

The Apple II was introduced on April 16, 1977 at the first West Coast Computer Faire. It differed from its major rivals, the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, due to its character cell-based color graphics and an open architecture. While early models used ordinary cassette tapes as storage devices, they were superseded by the introduction of a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive and interface, the Disk II. The Apple II was chosen to be the desktop platform for the first "killer app" of the business world, VisiCalc, a spreadsheet program. VisiCalc created a business market for the Apple II and gave home users compatibility with the office, an additional reason to buy an Apple II. Apple was a distant third place to Commodore and Tandy until VisiCalc came along.

By the end of the 1970s, Apple had a staff of computer designers and a production line. On December 12, 1980, Apple went public at $22 per share, generating more capital than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956 and instantly creating more millionaires (about 300) than any company in history.

The Rise

Jobs and several Apple employees including Jef Raskin visited Xerox PARC in December 1979 to see the Xerox Alto. Jobs was immediately convinced that all future computers would use a graphical user interface (GUI), and development of a GUI began for the Apple Lisa. But in 1982, he was pushed from the Lisa team due to infighting. Jobs took over Jef Raskin's low-cost-computer project, the Macintosh. A race broke out between the Lisa team and the Macintosh team over which product would ship first. Lisa won the race in 1983 and became the first personal computer sold to the public with a GUI, but was a commercial failure due to its high price tag and limited software titles.

In 1984, Apple next launched the Macintosh. The Macintosh initially sold well, but follow-up sales were not strong due to its high price and limited range of software titles. The machine's fortune changed with the introduction of the LaserWriter, the first PostScript laser printer to be offered at a reasonable price, and PageMaker, an early desktop publishing package. It has been suggested that the combination of these three products was responsible for the creation of the desktop publishing market. The Mac was particularly powerful in the desktop publishing market due to its advanced graphics capabilities, which had necessarily been built in to create the intuitive Macintosh GUI.

In 1985 a power struggle developed between Jobs and CEO John Sculley, who had been hired two years earlier. Sculley found out that Jobs had been attempting to organize a putsch and called a board meeting at which Apple's board of directors sided with Sculley and removed Jobs from his managerial duties. Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT Inc. the same year.

After the success of Mac, "Macintosh Portable" was introduced in 1989 and despite a bulky 7.5 kilograms (17 lb) with a 12-hour battery life, it worked. After the Macintosh Portable, Apple introduced the PowerBook in 1991. The same year, Apple introduced System 7, a major upgrade to the operating system which added color to the interface and introduced new networking capabilities. The success of the PowerBook and other products brought increasing revenue. The magazine MacAddict named the period between 1989 and 1991 as the "first golden age" of the Macintosh.

The Fall

Following the success of the Macintosh LC, Apple introduced the Centris line, a low-end Quadra offering, and the ill-fated Performa line that was sold with an overwhelming number of configurations and software bundles to avoid competing with the various consumer outlets such as Sears, Price Club, and Wal-Mart (the primary dealers for these models). Consumers ended up confused and did not understand the difference between models.

During this time Apple experimented with a number of other failed consumer targeted products including digital cameras, portable CD audio players, speakers, video consoles, and TV appliances. Enormous resources were also invested in the problem-plaguedNewton division based on John Sculley's unrealistic market forecasts. Ultimately, none of these products helped, as Apple's market share and stock prices continued to slide.

Apple also sued Microsoft for using a graphical user interface similar to the Apple Lisa in Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation. The lawsuit dragged on for years before it was finally dismissed. At the same time, a series of major product flops and missed deadlines sullied Apple's reputation, and Sculley was replaced as CEO by Michael Spindler.

The Comeback

In 1996, Michael Spindler was replaced by Gil Amelio as CEO. Gil Amelio made many changes at Apple, including extensive layoffs. After numerous failed attempts to improve Mac OS, Amelio chose to purchase NeXT and its NeXTSTEP operating system, bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple as an advisor. On July 9, 1997, Gil Amelio was ousted by the board of directors after overseeing a three-year record-low stock price and crippling financial losses. Jobs became the interim CEO and began restructuring the company's product line. At the 1997 Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would join Microsoft to release new versions of Microsoft Office for the Macintosh, and that Microsoft made a $150 million investment in non-voting Apple stock. On November 10, 1997, Apple introduced the Apple Online Store, tied to a new build-to-order manufacturing strategy.

On May 19, 2001, Apple opened the first official Apple Retail Stores in Virginia and California. On July 9, they bought Spruce Technologies, a DVD authoring company. On October 23 of the same year, Apple announced the iPod portable digital audio player, and started selling it on November 10. The product was phenomenally successful - over 100 million units were sold within six years. In 2003, Apple's iTunes Store was introduced, offering online music downloads for $0.99 a song and integration with the iPod. The service quickly became the market leader in online music services, with over 5 billion downloads by June 19, 2008.

Apple achieved widespread success with its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad products, which introduced innovations in mobile phones, portable music players and personal computers respectively. In addition, the implementation of a store for the purchase of software applications represented a new business model. Touch screens had been invented and seen in mobile devices before, but Apple was the first to achieve mass market adoption of such a user interface that included particular pre-programmed touch gestures.

In July of the following year, Apple launched the App Store to sell third-party applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Within a month, the store sold 60 million applications and brought in $1 million daily on average, with Jobs speculating that the App Store could become a billion-dollar business for Apple. Three months later, it was announced that Apple had become the third-largest mobile handset supplier in the world due to the popularity of the iPhone.

on April 3, 2010, the iPad was launched in the US and sold more than 300,000 units on that day, reaching 500,000 by the end of the first week. In May of the same year, Apple's market cap exceeded that of competitor Microsoft for the first time since 1989.

In October 2010, Apple shares hit an all-time high, eclipsing $300.

The Dream Logo

According to Steve Jobs, Apple was so named because Jobs was coming back from an apple farm, and he was on a fruitarian diet. He thought the name was "fun, spirited and not intimidating".

Apple's first logo, designed by Ron Wayne, depicts Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. It was almost immediately replaced by Rob Janoff's "rainbow Apple", the now-familiar rainbow-colored silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out of it. Janoff presented Jobs with several different monochromatic themes for the "bitten" logo, and Jobs immediately took a liking to it. While Jobs liked the logo, he insisted it be in color to humanize the company.

The logo was designed with a bite so that it would not be confused with a cherry. The colored stripes were conceived to make the logo more accessible, and to represent the fact the Apple II could generate graphics in color. This logo is often erroneously referred to as a tribute to Alan Turing, with the bite mark a reference to his method of suicide. Both Janoff and Apple deny any homage to Turing in the design of the logo.

In 1998, with the roll-out of the new iMac, Apple discontinued the rainbow theme and began to use monochromatic themes, nearly identical in shape to its previous rainbow incarnation, on various products, packaging and advertising. An Aqua-themed version of the monochrome logo was used from 2001 - 2003, and a Glass-themed version has been used since 2003.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were Beatles fans, but Apple Inc. had trademark issues with Apple Corps Ltd., a multimedia company started by The Beatles in 1967, involving their name and logo. This resulted in a series of lawsuits and tension between the two companies. These issues ended with settling of their most recent lawsuit in 2007.