Mike Markkula Biography

Engineer (1942–)
A co-founder of Apple Computers Inc., Mike Markkula laid the groundwork for the company's success with his management and marketing vision.


Mike Markkula was born on February 11, 1942, in Los Angeles, California. After a successful career as a marketing director, Markkula used his financial capital, experience and vision to help turn Apple Computers Inc. from a garage-run operation into a technological giant during his 20 years with the company.

Early Years and Career

Mike Markkula was born Armas Clifford Markkula Jr. on February 11, 1942, in Los Angeles, California. He attended Glendale Junior College while supporting himself with a series of odd jobs, then went on to receive his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California.

While still an undergraduate at USC, Markkula joined the technical staff of the Research and Development Laboratory at Hughes Aircraft Company. He moved on to become marketing director for Integrated Circuits at Fairchild Semiconductor, then took a similar position at Intel Corporation.

Having cashed out on his stock options, Markkula retired at age 32 to develop new hobbies and provide free consulting to struggling startups. Tipped off to the work of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who were building computers out of a garage in Los Altos, he agreed to visit in November 1976.

Birth and Growth of Apple

Markkula was impressed with the Apple II prototype that Wozniak and Jobs were piecing together, and offered to help them write a business plan. But he soon grew more invested with the success of the product, and took it upon himself to get the company off the ground. He invested $250,000 of his own money in return for 20 percent of the company's stock, raised another $600,000 from investors and secured a line of credit. He also hired Michael Scott from National Semiconductor Corp to serve as the company's CEO, and installed himself as chairman of the board and vice president of marketing.

Apple Computer Inc. was incorporated in January 1977, and with Markkula pouring money into advertising and laying the groundwork for success, the company went from $2 million in sales in 1977 to approximately $15 million the following year. The Apple II lived up to Markkula's hopes as a force in the nascent personal computer market following its release in 1977, and he helped oversee the developments of the Macintosh (1984) and Macintosh II (1987).

Markkula remained the steady hand at Apple's helm while its leadership changed over the years. When Scott was fired as CEO in 1981, Markkula took over the position until John Sculley was hired from PepsiCo in 1983. He remained a link to Apple's inception as Wozniak faded from public view and Jobs was phased out of Apple by the company's board of directors in 1985. He also played a role in the board's decision to oust Sculley amid declining sales in 1993. However, the company's continued financial woes brought more managerial instability, and Markkula left Apple in 1997.

Other Professional Successes

Mike Markkula had invested his time in other endeavors even when he was still heavily involved in running Apple. In 1986, he provided initial funding to Santa Clara University for a center of applied ethics, which today bears his name, and he served as the university's board of trustees from 2003 to 2009. Markkula also founded the Echelon Corporation, which develops smart energy-control networking platforms, and remains a vice chairman of its board of directors.

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