In the mid-1990s, Apple was falling apart. CEO John Sculley departed in spectacular fashion after the board lost confidence in the ex-PepsiCo executive's hype-heavy style, and new CEO Michael Spindler was trying to refashion Apple as a typical PC maker, which had Apple's engineering staff in open revolt. At the same time, IBM and Motorola were trying to stop the "Wintel" juggernaut, so they proposed that they and Apple develop a computer that could run Mac OS, IBM's OS/2, and Microsoft Windows NT, using IBM's and Motorola's PowerPC chips. Microsoft killed the NT for PowerPC edition, but the so-called AIM alliance opened the door for Apple to consider letting other companies make and sell Macs.
Motorola offered a few StarMax models, but the main clone maker was Power Computing, whose founder Stephen Kahng started the wildly successful Korean PC maker Leading Edge. With IBM's encouragement, Kahng was willing to start up Power Computing to produce Mac clones. Power Computing was very successful, outselling Dell for a while, as Apple stuck to its traditional sales of mail order and computer stores. Power Computing's clones cost less and soon surpassed Apple's own Macs in ratings by Macworld and MacUser magazines. Their designs were PC-like, but Apple's visual flair was at a low point, and Power Computing offered the same customization services as then-top PC seller Dell. Apple was losing to its own licensees, which further demoralized the company.
For some, the clones were a safety bet -- if Apple couldn't stop its implosion, the technology would live on elsewhere. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 2007, he decided he could fix Apple without outside help and quickly killed the clone experiment by releasing Mac OS 9, which the clone licensing deals didn't include. (Although Mac OS 9 was a minor update to Mac OS 8.6, its number change was meant to end, by de facto, the clone deals.) Apple bought Power Computing and shut it down that year.