n 2001, Apple was just getting out of the rut it had been in for many years. Steve Jobs’ return in 1997 led to the iMac, released the following year, that changed the way people looked at personal computers. When the 1999 iMac came in “5 flavors,” computers could be fun.
Financially, the company was starting to come back from a fallow period. Microsoft’s $150 million investment in Apple, in 1997, partly a settlement of patent infringements, bolstered the company for a while, but Apple’s ambitions were big. Apple started selling products through the company’s own online store in November of that year, a decision that would prove profitable, leading to the juggernaut that is Apple’s current direct-to-customer retail machine.
2001 saw the introduction of iTunes (January), the creation of Apple retail stores (the first one opened in May), the introduction of Mac OS X, the biggest change to the Mac’s operating system in a decade (Mac OS X 10.0 was released in March, but the first truly viable version of OS X was 10.1, which came in September), and then, on October 23, 2001, Apple introduced the iPod.
This portable digital music player revolutionized personal computing, and helped Apple build the company as we know it today.
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