Apple to mark 40 years after rise from California garage to tech giant
Apple is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
The firm has risen from a three-man project in a California garage to the most valuable company in the world, estimated to be worth more than 700 billion US dollars (£486 billion).
Founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne created the company on April 1 1976 as they set about selling computer kits to hobbyists, each of which was hand-built by Mr Wozniak.
In contrast, today the company has more than 480 retail stores in 18 countries worldwide and reported income of more than 18 billion US dollars (£12.4 billion) for the first quarter of this year.
The company also recently revealed that there are now more than one billion active Apple devices being used around the world.
Chief executive Tim Cook described the figure as one "no-one could have imagined", adding that it was an "indicator of how much impact Apple has on people around the world".
The company's journey to the summit of the technology industry has been a rocky one, having seen Mr Jobs leave the firm in the mid-1980s after his pet project, the first Macintosh computer, struggled and he attempted to oust then chief executive John Sculley.
However, he returned in 1997 when the company was in financial crisis and launched the iMac the following year, the first of a string of hardware products that also includes the iPod, iPhone and iPad, as well as the iTunes Store that cemented Apple's place as an industry leader, before his death from cancer in 2011.
Since then the firm has also launched its first wearable, the Apple Watch, and continued to see an increase in sales in its MacBook line of computers despite a global drop in PC sales. The Apple Music streaming service was also launched in 2015, gaining more than 10 million paying users since then.
However, Apple has also recently been at the centre of a battle with the US government and intelligence agencies over data encryption, with the technology firm refusing to help the FBI unlock an iPhone belonging to a terror suspect, claiming it violated user privacy and the process would make all iPhones more vulnerable.
The firm received backing from the wider tech community before the FBI gained third party help to access the phone and ended court proceedings.
The company's 40th birthday was being marked by the launch of the iPhone SE and new smaller iPad Pro on Thursday, with the smartphone believed to be aimed at emerging markets such as China and India, not traditional targets for Apple, as the next phase of the firm's history begins.