Business: Shiny Apple

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With personal computers

At Yassmeen's Belly Dance Bazaar in Los Altos, Calif, Performer-Proprietor Jakkee Bryson uses one of the 11-lb. desktop devices to keep track of her inventory of exotic costumes and records. An oil company depends on one of the little wonders to operate a rig off California; others keep track of election statistics for politicians, control light in theaters and synthesize music for rock stars.

These versatile machines are "personal computers" made by Apple Computer of Cupertino, Calif. In just four years, Apple has captured about 20% of the growing market for these relatively cheap (about $1,000) machines, which are designed primarily for small business and professional users. Sales in this new and rapidly evolving market will hit $300 million in 1979 and are growing at 45% annually.

The market was considerably broadened by the Apple II model, introduced in 1977 as the first programmable personal computer that could be bought fully assembled rather than in kit form. This year 100,000 Apple Us will be sold, vs 25,000 in 1978. Prices: from $1,195 for the basic model to $3,000 for a setup with all the trimmings, such as two ''floppy'' discs, a graphics tablet and a printer. Exults Apple's cofounder, Steven Jobs, a self-made engineer who is all of 23: ''We will sell more computers this year than IBM has in five.''

The basic Apple II consists of a typewriter keyboard about the size of an attache case; it plugs into any TV set and flashes information on the screen. It can be programmed by anyone familiar with BASIC, the simplest computer language, to do income taxes, balance a checkbook, record recipes, update the Christmas-card mailing list and play chess and backgammon. Benjamin Rosen, a Manhattan investment analyst, relies on his Apple for evaluating securities portfolios and doing cash-flow projections.

Apple is the fruit of Jobs and another college dropout, Stephen Wozniak, 26, both of whom had worked for West Coast electronics firms. In 1976 they sold a Volkswagen Micro Bus and a calculator to scrape together $1,300 to build a small computer in Jobs' garage. It took them six months to design the prototype, 40 hours to build it from scrounged parts, and no time at all to sell it to a retail computer store in California. Says Jobs: ''To our amazement, the store ordered 50.''The Apple Computer—so christened by Jobs, a confirmed fructarian—was born.

Bankrolled in part by two West Coast millionaires, Venture Capitalist Arthur Rock and Henry Singleton, the Teledyne Inc. chairman, Apple has been able to finance its growth internally. In 1976 the company had no employees other than the two founders and $200,000 in sales; by 1978 the payroll was up to 150 and sales totaled $17.5 million. This year the company, which is privately held but admits to pretax earnings equal to about 20% of sales, expects to be doing $75 million in business with 400 employees.

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