Phil Schiller said in 2013 that “education is in Apple’s DNA,” and it’s no exaggeration. The company’s commitment to the education sector was there from the very beginning. Steve Jobs told the Smithsonian that he wanted to donate a computer to every school in the U.S. as long ago as 1979.
I thought if there was just one computer in every school, some of the kids would find it. It will change their life. We saw the rate at which this was happening and the rate at which the school bureaucracies were deciding to buy a computer for the school and it was real slow. We realized that a whole generation of kids was going to go through the school before they even got their first computer so we thought the kids can’t wait. We wanted to donate a computer to every school in America.
The company couldn’t afford it in those days, but Steve lobbied Congress to introduce a bill that would have created sufficient tax breaks to make it possible. That attempt failed, but Apple did succeed in brokering a tax deal in California that saw the company donate an Apple IIe to every school in California. Apple led the PC market in education for a time, and even created education-specific Mac models.
More recently, Apple appeared set to bring its educational success into the iPad era in 2013 when it announced a $30M deal (that would eventually have been worth a quarter of a billion dollars) to equip every student in the LA Unified School District with an iPad. If that program had succeeded, it would have created a template for rolling out similar ones across the whole of the USA. Instead, it failed catastrophically, and it now appears that Chromebooks are winning where iPads have failed …