In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to the struggling computer company he founded. It was not in good shape.
Apple, which had pioneered the category of the personal computer, was barely staving off bankruptcy. In August of that year, Jobs would accept $150 million from Bill Gates’s Microsoft, money which kept Apple alive but made Microsoft look like less of a monopolist. A month later, the company would release a now-famous series of ads. With end-of-history assuredness, the ads show a black-and-white montage of Albert Einstein, Jim Henson, and Amelia Earhart, as an unseen narrator intones:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo.
Jobs strove to bring the old spirit of Apple to the laggard corporation. He even held an internal meeting to showcase the new marketing. “I don’t think there’s another company on Earth that could’ve done this campaign,” he said.
Apple is the most famous company in American business for good reason. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary American reader not knowing in broad strokes the incredible arc of Apple. It is the organization that invented the personal computer, lost its way, and nearly went bankrupt, before reclaiming its mantle through a product revolutionary in its quality (the iPod) before becoming the largest company in the world by disrupting (with the iPhone) the market it created.