Sun Microsystems in talks to buy Cupertino

January 25, 1996: The management of Sun Microsystems, at the height of its power, is negotiating in New York’s St. Regis, on Apple’s $3.89 billion acquisition. Computer geeks under 20 probably don’t know anything about Sun Microsystems, which was once a big player in Silicon Valley and created the Java programming language as well as the operating system solaris.

Founded in 1982, Sun Microsystems collapsed as a result of the bursting technology bubble of the late 90s, and was subsequently acquired by Oracle in 2009. Today, its former campus is the headquarters of Facebook.

Apple Mistakes Pushing Sun Microsystems Deal

There was talk of a merger between the two companies back in 1988, but Apple backed out at the last minute. Talk of a possible merger between Apple and Sun resurfaced in December 1995, amid the growing influence of Microsoft after the release of Windows 95.

But even without Microsoft, Apple has done a lot to hurt itself. This included spending resources on digital cameras, game consoles, launching Mac clones, and other failed products.

Sun and Apple executives had already begun working out the details of the share purchase, but negotiations ultimately fell through as Apple posted a massive $69 million loss.

By the end of 1996, everything had changed. Steve Jobs returned to Apple and the company began the path to recovery, but it could have been different.