Top 10 Apple keynote moments

Minority Report: From the 1984 Mac demo to the first-ever iPod
Written by Seb Janacek on

Minority Report: From the 1984 Mac demo to the first-ever iPod

1. iPhone launch

2007's iPhone launch is the epitome of the Steve Jobs keynote and one that will never be beaten. You also get the impression it was one of the product launches he enjoyed the most.

On this occasion, after Jobs had led the Faithful to the summit of Mount Hyperbole he had something genuinely spectacular to show them. The 'wow' factor of the iPhone's touchscreen interface simply bowled the audience over. The crowd 'ooh-d' and 'ah-ed' at demo after demo of the device that has turned an entire industry on its head.

At the time it was thought to be a big risk for Apple - what a difference a couple of years make.

Key quote: "This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years."

2. Macintosh demo

It's not often you see a tech CEO on the verge of tears - but this is your chance, with Steve Jobs at the memorable 1984 demo of Apple's first and most iconic Macintosh.

The choice of Vangelis's Chariots of Fire theme for the demos work well. As does the talking Macintosh. Jobs' bow tie and blazer, however - not so much. It's no wonder he opted for black turtleneck and jeans in the future.

For the full story behind the development of the Mac, see the memoirs of Andy Hertzfeld, the Mac's official 'software wizard'.

Key quote: "Hello, I'm Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag."

3. Microsoft partnership unveiled

In a famous rock moment, Steve Jobs' idol Bob Dylan was called 'Judas' by the an irate folk music fan for having the audacity to plug his guitar into an amp. Jobs had his own Judas moment when he announced a new 'special relationship' with arch-enemy Microsoft at the 1997 Macworld.

The displeasure from the crowd was clearly audible and reached a crescendo as Jobs announced that Internet Explorer would become the default browser on the Mac. Just to calm things down, Jobs then opened a video feed with Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder loomed over the booing audience from a huge video screen. Comparisons with the famous 'Big Brother' 1984 advert were inevitable.

A few years later, with the future of Apple assured thanks to Microsoft's support, Jobs was totally vindicated.

Key quote: "The discussions began because there were some, er, patent disputes."

4. Macintosh '1984' advert

If you've ever watched a Steve Jobs keynote you will have noticed a certain amount of whooping and excitable shrieking as the Apple CEO announced each incremental megapixel on an iPhone camera or minor amendment to a MacBook case. You've seen nothing.

In the 1983 keynote, the crowd went nuts for an advert. Not a product in sight. This is Old Testament stuff. Remember when Apple and IBM were competitors? Let this jog your memory.

Key quote: "Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

5. iMac launch

The iMac saved Apple from the abyss. The first iMac, unveiled here in 1998, was one of the all-time iconic Apple products and went through a number of ever more colourful iterations before it was replaced by a computer that looked like an anglepoise lamp.

The iMac was possibly the first personal computer to make the case that it wasn't a shameful thing to think of a computer as a desirable consumer item. It also introduced the 'i' prefix for Apple products, a trend which has endured to this day. Significantly the iMac also dispensed with a floppy drive - amen to that.

Key quote: "The back of this thing looks better than the front of the other guys."

6. iPod launch

October 2001 saw the launch of the very first iPod. A small crowd watched Jobs unveil the MP3 player in a low-key presentation.

The low-key nature of the event perhaps indicates Apple's own uncertainty about the future of the iPod. Eight years and about 220 million unit sales later, you can bet the company looks back on it as a good call.

If the iMac turned the company around, the iPod powered it into the stratosphere of top earning tech companies and helped it reach millions of new customers and new markets.

Key quote: "No one has really found the recipe yet for digital music."

7. MacBook Air launch

Take one CEO. Add a stage. Slide a wafer-thin notebook out of a manila envelope. What more could you ask for in a keynote?

Relive the 2008 MacBook Air launch…

Key quote: "How did we fit a Mac in here?"

8. G4 Cube demo

Steve Jobs introduced the G4 Cube at the New York Macworld in 2000. The computer was probably inspired by the form factor of the NeXTcube at Jobs' previous company, NeXT. The Cube occupied an awkward place in Apple's symmetrical product matrix and was ultimately a commercial failure for the company. It was a wonderfully elegant invention although admittedly a little short on expansion options.

In July 2001, an Apple press release announced that the Cube had been put "on ice". According to the release: "There is a small chance [Apple] will reintroduce an upgraded model of the unique computer in the future but there are no plans to do so at this time."

The reappearance of the Cube is a long shot but who'd bet against there being an Intel-powered prototype sitting on a desk in the Apple R&D department?

Key quote: "An eight-inch cube! An eight-inch cube!"

9. Steve Jobs returns to Apple

Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 in a consultancy role after the Cupertino firm bought his company, NeXT. It wasn't long before he had ousted incumbent CEO Gil Amelio (later credited with setting in motion many of the products and strategies that helped rejuvenate the company). The rest is history.

Key quote: "Steve! Steve! Steve! Steve!"

10. A eulogy for Mac OS 9

As Bach's Toccata and Fugue swelled around a stage shrouded with dry ice and lit by a stained-glass window, a coffin rises to centre stage and Steve Jobs delivers a eulogy to a dead operating system.

The ceremony took place at the 2002 Worldwide Developer Conference and hammered home the message that Mac OSX should be the apple of every developer's eye.

Key quote: "We are here today to mourn the passing of OS 9. He's now in the great bit bucket in the sky no doubt looking down upon us with the same smile he displayed every time he booted."


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