Little Known Apple Co-Founder Mike Markkula Made Apple’s Success Possible

Apple was released to the public on December 12, 1980. I bet almost no one has read it was born or not more than 10 or 12 years old. In short, we were far too young to take advantage of this fortuitous date in history, buy stocks and reap an increase of around 40,000% today. A relatively small investment of $ 10,000 in 1980 (equivalent to more than $ 31,000 today), you would have $ 3.95 million in Apple stock. Not bad in the long run – it would buy you a beautiful house with a pool in a good area of ​​Los Angeles today – but that’s not at all what former Apple employee Mike Markkula is worth today. Most people have never heard of Markkula, but the fact is, without him I would not be writing this article on a MacBook Pro, calling my friends from my iPhone 11, or reading on my iPad. Markkula was as critical to Apple’s early success as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Mike Markkula was born on February 11, 1942 in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of Southern California (fight against the Trojan brother!) With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering. He worked for Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, where he has stock options that allowed him to retire in 1974 as a millionaire at 32. II computer they had designed. They were successful with the first version of the computer, the Apple I. Markkula had a deep understanding of technology and had imagined the possibility of personal computers years earlier. He was intrigued by Jobs and Wozniak. And then they showed him the Apple II. In a 1992 interview with WGBH Boston, Markkula said, “I looked at it, and said it was the first computer that was useful and affordable for people.”

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Jobs and Wozniak not only had no money, but they had no real experience. Markkula helped the Steves write a business plan. As the three men went through this process, he quickly realized that they had a potential Fortune 500 business. He thought they could accomplish this in about five years. Markkula came out of retirement and set to work to organize Apple as a real business. Markkula also decided early on that Apple would not bring in external capital.

Instead, he came out of retirement in 1977 and became an angel investor. He gave Apple a total of $ 250,000, including $ 170,000 in loans and $ 80,000 in equity investments. Markkula became the number three employee and one-third owner of the young business. Wozniak actually gives Markkula more credit for Apple’s success than he takes for himself, and Woz designed the first two Apple computers.

Markkula brought his business expertise to Apple, helping the company secure credit and venture capital investments. He brought in Michael Scott, a senior executive, as the company’s first president and chief executive officer. It was Apple’s 2nd CEO from 1981 to 1983. Markkula was also chairman of Apple’s board of directors from 1985 to 1997, despite the fact that when he retired to join Apple in 1977, he promised his wife that he would only work for four years. He was the longest serving chairman of the Apple board. He resigned when a new board was introduced after Steve Jobs returned to the company.

During his years as president, Markkula kept the Macintosh plan alive when Jobs tried to kill him several times. Markkula believed in the Macintosh plan of Jef Raskin. Jobs wanted him killed for his own project, Lisa. Then, in 1984, when Lisa failed, Jobs was heavily armed in the Macintosh project. The following year, Markkula sided with John Sculley in a dispute with Jobs. That’s when Jobs left Apple. Basically, Markkula was “adult supervision” for Jobs and Wozniak. Markkula was eight years older than Wozniak and 13 years older than Jobs. He was a trained engineer who wrote several of the early programs for the Apple II. He was a beta tester for Apple hardware and software. He was responsible for many innovations at the start of Apple.

Markkula retired from Apple in 1997, shortly after Jobs returned to the company as interim CEO in 1996. Markkula supported Jobs’ return.

Throughout his tenure at Apple, Markkula’s instinct was perfect. Even when former Intel colleagues made fun of him because they didn’t believe there was a market for the personal computer. Markkula laughed for the last time. In 1977 Apple had sales of $ 773,000. In 1978, sales amounted to $ 7.86 million. In 1979, sales amounted to $ 47.87 million. In 1980, the year Apple went public, sales nearly tripled from the previous year to $ 117 million. When Apple went public, Markkula owned seven million shares. At the end of the first day of trading, his shares were worth $ 203 million. This is a gain of 220,552% on its investment in equities in just four years.

Today Mike Markkula is 78 years old and has a net worth of $ 1.2 billion.


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