Here’s some business plan history for you: yesterday, the Computer History Museum posted Apple’s preliminary business plan for the Macintosh computer, dated July 12, 1981. It’s as awesomely campy as you might expect. Typed in that grainy, pixilated font that computer aficionados from the ’80s will recall, the 29-page business plan contains weird punctuation and zingers like “The Advantage of a Product Line is that…Each Individual Product Does not have to Do Everything,” [sic—to the whole sentence], immediately followed by “(and today is the first day of the rest of your life…).” Bear in mind that by the time this business plan was written, Apple had already gone public (the CHM also has the company’s IPO papers), which may explain why this document is a bit quirkier than the business plans you’d stumble upon today.
Still, there’s plenty of elements that you’d see in a latter-day business plan. Take Apple’s plan for positioning Apple in the market: “Imagine two posters next fall, the first appearing in retail dealers and Sears. The message: ‘Apple II has evolved into two new products, each one the best in its class and both low cost. Buy one…Or both!!” (This was the 80s, when excess was in…) The business plan also includes information about the various segments that Apple computers would go after—for instance the MAC would be geared toward managers and secretaries, while the Apple II would be marketed more as a computer for high school and elementary school students. The business plan also includes plenty of financial data, including projections that the cost of building a Mac would be around $395, with Apple hoping to snare a 33% profit off the $995 retail price. The business planners also detail their competition: “Japanese, Xerox 820, IBM, Radio Shack, Commodore” (wow) and include an org chart. But it finishes with one of the weirdest things we’ve ever seen in a business plan:
But hey, who are we to question the business plan of one of the most successful product lines of all time?
Addendum: apparently this page is a paradoy of an Orson Welles ad from the ’80s?