And then its stock traded flat for a decade. Will Apple now suffer Microsoft's fate?
A look at Microsoft's charts from its IPO in 1986 until its peak at the end of 1999 shows an almost straight line representing a 55,000% return in the course of just less than 14 years.
In December 1999, Microsoft was the most valuable company in the world with a market cap of more than $616 billion. The very word Microsoft became shorthand for a very successful stock with unlimited growth potential. "This stock is the next Microsoft" became the mantra of tech companies, stock promoters, and investors alike.
We all know what happened next: After falling 63% in 2000, Microsoft's prices traded within a fairly tight range except for a one-year dip that bottomed in March 2009.
Apple went public six years before Microsoft but its 1990s were not as wonderful .In fact, it was quite tumultuous. Sure, Apple went up over 160% that decade, but that was helped after founder Steve Jobs returned to the company in September 1997.
Like Microsoft's first 14 years as a public company, Apple under Jobs' second stint saw fantastic returns. Maybe not as much as Microsoft's but Apple's 6,560% return in 14 years is nothing to sneeze at, either.
After Jobs' passing, shares doubled once more within a year, valuing the company at over $650 billion by September 2012. There was talk of Apple becoming the world's first trillion-dollar company. Since then, its value has fallen almost 40%.
Apple's 14-year run-up followed by quick decline sounds eerily familiar to Microsoft's story. Is Apple the next Microsoft?
According to Talking Numbers contributor Enis Taner, Global Macro Editor at RiskReversal.com, there are three fundamental reasons why shareholders in Apple may well have years of flat returns ahead of them.
On the other side, Talking Numbers contributor Richard Ross, Global Technical Strategist for Auerbach Grayson, thinks the charts show Apple has some shine to it yet.
Who is correct? Watch the video above to hear Taner and Ross analyze Apple and assess its future.