Rain Before Rainbows

Come Back After You Finish College

What could two college dropouts possibly create that would be of any interest to a major corporation? At least, that is what an executive at Hewlett-Packard thought when he advised these Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to finish college before they tried to sell them anything. It did not matter that both men had worked for the company before they had graduated from high school.

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So, Jobs and Wozniak climbed back into their Volkswagen van and drove down the road to Atari, figuring they would get a warmer response since they had been working for them while in college. They were wrong. Joe Keenan, then president of Atari, said, “Get your feet of my desk, get out of here, you stink, and we’re not going to buy your product.”

These experiences made them realize that if they were going to get their product on the market, they would need to do it themselves. First, they had to overcome a major obstacle—a lack of funding. Desperate, they borrowed a little money and sold their most prized possessions: the van and an HP calculator. The resulting $1000 was just enough money for them to begin assembly and they set up in the only space available to them—Jobs’ parents’ garage.

Together, Jobs and Wozniak refined their product. Eventually, Jobs managed to find more financial backers and they were able to produce one of the first computers specifically designed for use in the home. In 1977, the Apple II computer was launched. Within the first year, sales of Apple Computers reached $2.7 million, which grew to $200 million within three years. They eventually dropped “computers” from their name as they expanded into new venues including Macintosh personal computers; iPod portable music players; iTunes, an online store that sells downloadable music and videos; and iPhone, a smartphone. In 2006, worldwide annual sales for Apple, Inc. were more than 19 billion dollars.

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