There’s a thief in the building – ideas Apple has “stolen” from other companies throughout the years

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Apple often gets credit for its ingenuity.  Others argue that marketing has driven its success.  Beast Master recently published an infographic documenting the history of several Apple “innovations” – you may be surprised to learn that most of Apple’s “ideas” originated outside the company.  Here are some quick bulleted facts regarding those origins.

In 1996, Steve Jobs said:

“Picasso had a saying. Good artists copy. Great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Acorn icon doc 1987Macintosh computer

  • In 1963, the mouse was invented by Doug Englebart of Stanford Research Institute.  He patented the mouse in 1970
  • Steve Jobs visited the Palo Alto Research Center where Xerox engineers demonstrated a windowing system driven by mouse navigation
  • Ideas that Jobs took from MS Windws: Finder Sidebar, Mac Path Bar, Back and Forward buttons, ALT+TAB to switch between open applications
  • Arthur OS, Unix, Linux, Acorn, RISC OS, Amiga OS and OS/2 all incorporated icon docks 14 years before it was added to the Macintosh in 2001

Braun radio from the 50's and 60'siPod

  • Very simliar to the Braun radio of the 50’s and 60’s
  • Apple admitted stealing the iPod concept from Britain’s Kane Kramer, who invented a similar device in 1979, but Apple refused to pay him royalties.
  • Audio Highway’s “Listen Up” and “MPMan” predated the iPod
  • Click-wheel browsing appeared earlier in Creative’s NOMAD Jukebox.


  • debuted in 1998.
  • Jeff Robbin and Bill Kincaid introduced SoundJam in 1999.  Apple purchased the company in 2000.


  • Touchscreen technology invented in 1965.
  • Multitouch invented by Finger Works in 1998.  They were purchased by Apple in 2005.
  • Samsung claims that Apple stole its “pinch to zoom” feature from Diamond Touch, shown to a group of Apple engineers in 2003
  • Apple took the idea, name, and logo for iOS5 wireless syncing app Wi-Fi Sync from developer Greg Hughes… after rejecting it for the iTunes App Store

Microsoft MS Table PC 2002iPad

  • Microsoft debuted the MS Tablet PC in 2002
  • Roger Fidler at the University of Missouri claims Apple saw his design in 1981.
  • Fujitsu built a touch screen device they called “iPad” in the early 2000’s.
Sources: Beast Master Programs

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