The Story of Apple’s IPO: When They Went Public

In 1976, two young computer enthusiasts named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer in Jobs’ family garage. With a vision to make computers accessible to everyday people, they worked tirelessly to design and build the Apple I and Apple II.

Little did they know that just a few short years later, their startup would go public in one of the most successful IPOs in history, setting Apple on the path to becoming the most valuable company in the world. Here’s the fascinating story behind Apple’s initial public offering.

The Road to Going Public

By 1980, Apple had become one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. Sales were skyrocketing as the Apple II became the best-selling personal computer, with over $100 million in annual revenue.

Jobs and Wozniak realized they needed more capital to fuel Apple’s rapid expansion. Despite having opportunities to sell the company, they decided to take Apple public. It was a bold move for a company that was just three years old.

The Historic IPO

On December 12, 1980, Apple stock began trading on the NASDAQ exchange at $22 per share. The IPO was a resounding success. By the end of the first day of trading, the stock price had surged nearly 32% to close at $29.

  • Apple sold 4.6 million shares and raised over $100 million, valuing the company at nearly $1.8 billion
  • It generated more capital than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956
  • The stock offering created about 300 millionaires instantly, more than any other IPO in history at the time
  • At age 25, Jobs ended the day with a net worth of $217 million

Apple’s Growing Pains

However, not everything went smoothly in the ensuing years. As competition intensified with IBM entering the PC market, Apple soon began to struggle. By 1985, the company was in crisis and Jobs was ousted from his own company after clashing with CEO John Sculley.

Over the next decade, Apple floundered as it lost market share to rival Microsoft. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy when a remarkable turnaround began in 1997. That was the year Jobs rejoined Apple after it acquired his startup NeXT.

The Second Coming of Steve Jobs

What followed under Jobs’ renewed leadership was one of the most amazing comebacks in business history. Over the next decade, Jobs would help launch iconic products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad that redefined entire industries. By the time he passed away in 2011, Apple had become the most valuable company in the world.

The Legacy of Apple’s IPO

Apple’s 1980 IPO was a watershed moment not just for the company, but for the technology industry as a whole. It helped legitimize the nascent personal computer industry and paved the way for many other tech companies to go public in the decades that followed.

More than 40 years later, Apple is now a $2.5 trillion company and one of the most influential brands in the world. From its game-changing products to its sleek retail stores, Apple continues to shape our digital lives in profound ways. And it all traces back to that fateful day in December 1980 when a little startup from Cupertino became a public company.


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