As Richard Nixon destroyed happiness with his war on drugs, the 1970’s saw the world’s first personal computers, inspiring five geeks to start a pair of companies which would go on to shape the future of computing as we know it.
In January of 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen called up Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems claiming to have a working BASIC interpreter for the MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer. While that claim was entirely fictitious, it took Gates and Allen just two months to create the product they claimed to already have.
With the interpreter working flawlessly, MITS agreed to distribute the software under the name Altair BASIC. Microsoft was officially established just one month later, on April 4th, 1975. After launching their first Disk Operating System (DOS) in 1980 Microsoft quickly began to grow into one of the biggest names in personal computing.
Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded their company, Apple, on April 1st 1976, just short of one year after the inception of Microsoft. Unlike Microsoft, who chose to focus on operating systems for other people’s hardware, Apple began their business by selling bare-bones hand-built computer kits, named the Apple I.
After Wayne sold his shares of the company to the Steve’s for just $800, Apple incorporated on January 3rd, 1977. With the backing of Multi-millionaire Mike Markkula, Apple Computers Inc. had the funding it needed to develop the most advanced personal computer to date, the Apple II (launched on April 16th 1977).
With color graphics and an open architecture, the Apple II set the course for personal computing, beginning the battle for dominance of what soon proved to be one of the biggest un-tapped markets in history.
Click on the image below to see the full version.
With the launch of OSX Lion set for July 2011, more than a full year earlier than the scheduled release date of Windows 8 (the first entirely re-designed UI of a Windows OS since windows 95), it’s reasonable to assume the gap in stock pricing between the two companies will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.
There you have it, the history of computing as pertaining to the two biggest names in the game, in infographic form. Feel free to share this post with the world; just try to remember to drop a link, letting the world know where you found it. If you want to share it on your blog in one step, click on the “Embed this” link below the image above, and it will give you the HTML code you need.
UPDATE: After reading the slew of comments I’ve added a graph at the bottom detailing the two companies Market Cap. Unfortunately this information for the entire timeline (or by specific day) is seemingly unavailable. I’ve added the last 10 years, if I could have gotten more data I would have used it.