Apple’s IPO, before the NASDAQ was a “real” market


Apple went public in December 1980. They successfully raised $100 million at $22 per share. They’ve split those shares 2:1 three times since then, and 7:1 once, and 4:1 once, plus they’ve bought back a lot of shares, but roughly that $22 share today is worth at least $40,000.

If you read this blog, you know that rise in value isn’t what mosts interests me, but rather the fact that Morgan Stanley’s 1981 analyst report said that Apple was an over-the-counter stock rather than saying it was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The NASDAQ was ten years old in 1981.

If you read the most recent post, you learned that Berkshire Hathaway didn’t list on the New York Stock Exchange until 1988. I’ve seen sources that say it too was listed on the NASDAQ years before then, but that doesn’t seem to merit mention even in 1988.

The NASDAQ today (2023) is the second largest stock market in the world, alone larger than most stock markets in most countries. So when exactly did it rise from being considered a fancy electronic way to trade over-the-counter to being a “real” stock market? Best I can find, June 1982.

Above is the oldest article I can find in the New Your Times TimesMachine that talks about the “move away from the O-T-C to a separate universe”, with Apple Computer as the first example company mentioned.

So again, just as we all tend to think that venture capital has been around forever, it feels like the NASDAQ has been around just as long, when in fact the NASDAQ as only been truly important for forty years (which for me was 8th grade).


The Wall Street Journal on December 12, 1980 published a much longer story about Apple’s IPO. The lede was that the State of Massachusetts deemed it too risky.

What I found more interesting was in the second column, where it says the offering is registered in 27 states.

One more offhand remark showing how the NASDAQ wasn’t by 1980 a national stock exchange where the federal laws would override the individual state laws. Not even at the scale of a $100 million public fundraising.

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