Timeline: Apple milestones and product launches

NEW YORK Wed Mar 2, 2011 5:23pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc unwrapped a sleeker iPad 2 on Wednesday and its maestro Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco to a standing ovation after a brief medical absence.

Here are some of Apple's milestones:

1976 - High-school buddies Steven Wozniak and Steven Jobs start Apple Computer. Their first product, Apple I, built in circuit board form, debuts at "the Homebrew Computer Club" in Palo Alto, California, to little fanfare.

1977 - Apple II is unveiled, the first personal computer in a plastic case with color graphics.

1983 - Apple starts selling the "Lisa," a desktop computer for businesses with a graphical user interface, the system most users are familiar with today.

1984 - Apple debuts the Macintosh personal computer. It is hyped with a dark, stylized commercial in which a heroine takes on Big Brother characters reminiscent of those in George Orwell's novel "1984" (here).

1985 - Jobs leaves Apple in 1985 after a power struggle.

1991 - Apple introduces the PowerBook 100, its first hit portable computer.

1993 - The Newton Message Pad debuts. Apple's first handheld device, it has a touchscreen and features tools found in today's smartphones, such as an address book, calendar and e-mail function. It flops.

September 1997 - Jobs is named Apple's interim CEO after the company records losses of more than $1.8 billion.

November 1997 - Jobs introduces a new line of Macintosh computers called G3, and a website that lets people order directly from Apple.

1998 - Apple unveils the iMac desktop computer.

2001 - Apple introduces the iPod, a palm-sized, hard-drive-based digital music player.

2003 - The iTunes Store opens, allowing users to buy and download music, audiobooks, movies and TV shows online.

August 2004 - Jobs announces he underwent successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas. The rare form of cancer is highly treatable.

2005 - The iPod adds video, and Apple fills out its portable media line with the low-end iPod shuffle, and sleek iPod nano.

October 2005 - Tim Cook is named Apple's chief operating officer, after serving as executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations since 2002.

January 2007 - Apple announces the iPhone. The device features one button on its smooth face and a virtual keyboard. It also introduces Apple TV, which attracts few buyers.

September 2007 - Apple unveils the iPod Touch -- essentially an iPhone without the phone -- which has wireless capabilities and performs much like a portable computer.

2008 - Apple opens its App Store as an update to iTunes. The store features small applications -- from games to social and business tools -- that add functions to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple also releases the MacBook Air.

January 2009 - Jobs takes leave for health reasons. COO Cook leads the company in the interim.

June 2009 - Jobs returns to the company after undergoing a liver transplant.

2009 - Apple releases the iPhone 3GS. The company has sold more than 220 million iPods so far.

2010 - Apple awards Cook a bonus valued at $22 million for leading the company during Jobs' sixth-month leave, during which its shares soared about 70 percent.

April 2010 - Apple begins selling the iPad, a 10-inch touchscreen tablet, and has an 84 percent share of the tablet market by year's end. Researcher iSuppli estimates 12.9 million iPads were shipped as of December 10.

November 2010 - The Beatles' 13 albums become available on iTunes, ending years of talks between Jobs, Beatles' management company Apple Corps and Beatles label EMI Group.

January 17, 2011 - Jobs announces that he will take another medical leave.

February 10, 2011 - Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, starts selling the iPhone in stores and puts an end to AT&T's exclusive contract for the phone in the United States.

February 15, 2011 - Apple launches a long-awaited subscription service for magazines, newspapers, videos and music -- a move that could hurt streaming services Netflix and Hulu.

March 2, 2011 - Apple launches the iPad 2, a sleeker, lighter version of its tablet with a new dual-core processor, two cameras and, for the first time, it comes in either white or black.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker, Ilaina Jonas, Franklin Paul, additional reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and Richard Chang)

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