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Happy 35th birthday to Apple, Inc.

Dana Franklin

It's no joke: Apple, Inc. turns 35 today.

On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne (who 12 days later sold his share of the startup for a meager US$2,300) founded Apple Computer. As a newborn, Apple intended to sell low-cost, hand-manufactured microcomputer components to fellow members of the local Homebrew Computer Club. [Ron Wayne will be appearing on Fox Business News this afternoon at 3:30 PM to talk about his early Apple experiences. –Ed.]

Not satisfied with selling a few parts to a handful of enthusiasts, a persistent Steve Jobs pitched Apple's products to Paul Terrell, owner of a newly founded computer store in Mountain View, CA, called "Byte Shop." After a few exposures to Jobs' reality distortion field, Terrell agreed to an order of 50 fully assembled Apple I personal computers from the infant company. The two Steves, with a bit of help from their friends (and funded by the sale of a few prized possessions and a favorable loan from a parts supplier) assembled the company's first 50 machines. Together with Byte Shop, Apple put the original machines up for sale at $666.66 each, lighting the match that would later ignite the personal computer revolution.

From those humble beginnings, Apple experienced a bright childhood filled with Apple II's and Macs. The company followed its early success with some incredibly dark and tormented teenaged years riddled with Performas, Pippins and other ill-fated missteps.

Fortunately, at age 21, Apple reunited with Jobs who once again began to work his magic and returned the company to industry-leading status. Since then, the company formerly known as Apple Computer -- which, like any successful celebrity, legally dropped its last name to become Apple, Inc. -- has taken the lead in reinventing digital music with the iPod and iTunes, transforming mobile phones with the iPhone and App Store and setting new standards for portable computing with the iPad. What started as a small order of 50 Apple I's 35 years ago has grown into a US$65 billion per year business with adoring fans around the globe.

In a world without the two Steves and the forward-thinking owner of Byte Shop, we here at TUAW wouldn't have much to write about -- or maybe we'd be The Unofficial Linux Blog (TULB?) instead. Yikes! Let's not think about that; we're all much happier writing about Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. Also, we here at TUAW love any excuse to enjoy a delicious cake and celebratory merriment. So, from all of us here in the TUAW compound: happy 35th birthday Apple, Inc.! We congratulate you on surviving all these years and hope to see you for (at least) 35 more.

Oh, and now that you're old enough, any plans to run for president in 2012?

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