Why Sun Microsystems Didn’t Buy Apple Back in 1996


Former Sun CEOs Scott McNealy and Ed Zander recently discussed with eWeek the details of their missed opportunity to snag Apple back in 1996, when it was without Steve Jobs, and in turmoil. Both of these CEOs were honest in their recollection of the events leading up to a potential takeover of Apple. At the time, Sun was one of the dominant tech companies in the world.

Former Sun CEO, Scott McNealy:

“If we had bought Apple, there wouldn’t have been iPods or iPads … I’d have screwed that up,”

Former CEO, Ed Zander:

“Back in late 1995 early ’96, when we were at our peak, we were literally hours away from buying Apple for about $5 to $6 a share,”

“Honest to gosh, I was at an analysts’ meeting in San Diego on a Tuesday morning and was getting ready to announce that we were going to buy Apple. I don’t know what we were going to do with it, but we were going to buy it. (Apple) had no CEO at the time, Steve (Jobs) wasn’t there, but we didn’t get it. Why didn’t we buy it?”

Ultimately, what stopped Sun from snapping up Apple?

“We wanted to do it,” McNealy said. “There was an investment banker on the Apple side, an absolute disaster, and he basically blocked it. He put so many terms into the deal that we couldn’t afford to go do it.”

So it appears someone at Apple was adamant on not letting the company get sold to Sun, and made some last minute brilliant moves to block the buyout. Can you imagine what would’ve happened in Sun actually bought Apple? We wouldn’t have the iPod, iPhone, or iPad. The evolution of the Mac and OSX would’ve never existed.

Can you imagine a world without the iPod? What would we be all using for music? Chocolate brown Zunes?



  • Anonymous

    Still lugging around CD players?
    Or maybe Sony’s MiniDisc would of actually taken off lol.

    Blackberry would of still happened and netbooks as well. But thin smartphones…. Dont think so

  • Lemonstre

    I wonder who’s character name that blocked the deal?!

  • ML

    1. “would have”, not “would of”
    2. Creative was on top of the game in 2000 and while its players weren’t as embraced as iPods (came out in 2001, actually), they had the best sounding devices.

  • Flex260

    I still have a mini disc player! Anyone wanna buy. I paid $450 for it.

  • Anonymous

    There probably wouldn’t have been any Zunes either if the iPod didn’t kick off the revolution.

  • Mouss12

    i just threw mine away. I recommend you do the same.

  • Anonymous

    Probably Steve Jobs’s dad.

  • Guest

    Everything would have been click buttons and nested lists sold by SanDisk and Panasonic…

  • AnonymousGuy

    An unknown investment banker who probably didn’t want his shares going even further down the tube after the take over.

  • Anonymous

    I like Apple and all but you fanbois seem to think this world would be alot less without Apple. Ever stop to think those people and or Steve Jobs who worked there at the time would have went on to work/create for another tech company and would have had one of if not all of those ideas? Creativity comes from within one’s own imagination, not from a company & it’s logo, but from the people who work there.

  • Luca

    Ya that may be true that i wouldnt be writing this post on my iphone but he may have invented greater stuff who knows??????

  • Adrian

    Was written…

  • Jimg

    Sun would’ve gone down hill like HP/Compaq and the braintrusts would’ve still looked to NeXT and Steve Jobs would’ve still returned. If anything, Apple would be what it is today, only with more enterprise exposure.

  • ML

    “Creativity comes from within one’s own imagination, not from a company & it’s logo, but from the people who work there. ”

    Yes and no. Unless immersed in the right environment, creativity does not flourish. Look at musicians, for instance. Members of Pink Floyd, the Beatles and numerous others great and famous bands that fell apart almost all had failed to get their solo careers going. Creativity and talent don’t stand much chance on their own.