Apple Vs. Everyone

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In 2007, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates share a laugh at D5. They founded their respective companies one year apart in 1975 and 1976. JOI ITO

Before Apple's battle with the Justice Department and the FBI, it had plenty of practice going a few rounds with influencial people and large companies. This article from Newsweek's newest Special Editon, The Founding Fathers of Silicon Valley, Exploring 60 Years of Innovation, by Issue Editor Alicia Kort, shares some of the wars Apple has waged—and usually won.

Closed Vs. Open

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs's controversial decision to create a closed-system personal computer would forever pit Apple against the rest of the industry. This decision was a major sticking point with co-founder and Homebrew Computer Club member Steve Wozniak. A true child of the counterculture, Wozniak wholeheartedly stood behind Homebrew's philosophy of sharing ideas and that those with the skillset should be encouraged to tinker with and improve on technology. Jobs's view won out, however, and he demanded that all Apple products be closed and unmoddable, even going so far as to secure the back of the first Macintosh with screws that required special tools. This decision to control every aspect of an Apple product has defined the company since its inception and is often billed as either a selling point or major criticism, depending on whom you ask.

Apple Vs. Big Blue

In 1981, IBM, casually nicknamed Big Blue, finally entered the PC race and released the IBM 5100 PC. Apple, which had been working on the Macintosh for a little more than a year, decided it needed to retaliate against what Jobs felt was an inferior product. It recruited film director Ridley Scott—fresh off the success of Blade Runner—to direct Apple's Super Bowl commercial. The Orwellian ad, which would be deemed the greatest commercial of all time, showed a woman sprinting toward a screen featuring a Big Brother-esque leader before shattering it with her sledgehammer.

In a speech months before the ad's premiere, Jobs previewed it for Apple's employees and stoked the vision that Apple would prevent a new Dark Ages. "It appears IBM wants it all," Jobs said. "Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly and desperately turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

Although the spot set the standard for Super Bowl commercials to come, it didn't sell many Macs. This fact, coupled with Jobs's difficult personality and harsh management style, got him pushed out of the company he co-founded one year later.

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Iconic moments from the landmark 1984 Apple Super Bowl ad. COURTESY APPLE
Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 12
Iconic moments from the landmark 1984 Apple Super Bowl ad. COURTESY APPLE

Apple Vs. Microsoft

The founders of two of the largest computer corporations' rivalry was anything but private, with caustic insults thrown back and forth in the press in a manner that felt more at home in Sweet Valley High than in Silicon Valley. "Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology," Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson. "He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas." Though 30 years worth of these kinds of insults might lead you to a different conclusion, Apple and Microsoft actually began as partners in the '80s. Jobs wanted Microsoft to develop graphical software for the Macintosh, but Apple engineers began to fear that Microsoft was copying their operating system (like Apple did to Xerox's years earlier). The Mac was delayed for a year, so Microsoft and Gates instead went to IBM and offered to build an OS for Big Blue, which they called Windows. Jobs took this business decision as a personal betrayal and began a decades-long war with Microsoft. But there were some ceasefires later on. After being hired back at Apple, the first thing Jobs did was call Gates to draw up a software licensing partnership. The two were totally unalike in personality but always had some level of respect for each other and became closer friends toward the end of Jobs's life. "We spent literally hours reminiscing and talking about the future," Gates told The Telegraph about his last visit with Jobs.

Apple Vs. Samsung

After Samsung unveiled its Android-backed Galaxy smartphone and a sleek tablet, the "iPhone Killer" looked more like a mimic than a hitman. Apple agreed and in 2011 hit Samsung with multiple copyright infringement lawsuits. The South Korean tech giant fired several allegations right back, citing that Apple stole from it. The legal battle raged on for three years—on three different continents—with the U.S. Court of Appeals finally deciding that three of Apple's patents had been infringed on, forcing Samsung to pay $1 billion.

This article was excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition, The Founding Fathers of Silicon Valley, Exploring 60 Years of Innovation, by Issue Editor Alicia Kort. For more about the road to the digital age, pick up a copy today.

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