10. Steve Jobs Introduces the Macintosh in 1984
One of the most astounding introductions of any of the amazing Mac hardware over the years is probably this example from 1984 when a young, suited Steve Jobs presented the first Apple Macintosh in front of 3000 people, kickstarting a computing phenomenon and wowing the crowd by withdrawing a floppy disk from his pocket.
This first Macintosh offered amazing graphics which wowed the audience; in truth, Jobs didn’t need to do all that much talking, simply stand back and let the demo program work its magic accompanied by Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire" theme tune and the text to voice software on the Mac.
9. Launch of the iPod, 2001
Back in 2001, very few people had MP3 players, and nobody had a device that could store so much music and fit in a pocket.
Choosing the digital music revolution as the new target for Apple, Jobs announced the iPod at a low-key event in 2001, demonstrating how the existing choices for portable music players were costly to buy and purchase music for. As we now know, this was a hugely significant moment in consumer electronics – 1000 songs is still a huge amount of music to be able to listen to!
8. Steve Predicts iCloud… in 1997?!
An amazing prescient moment which truly underlines Jobs’ reputation as a visionary occued in 1997 when, after just a few months back at Apple, the returning CEO described the strength of cloud computing as an alternative to hard disk storage.
It might have taken a while to get to the stage of storing personal data on a remote server but in 2011, with iCloud, that has now become possible. After all, it’s a great idea; and as Steve explained at this presentation at the 1997 WWDC event, it removes the need to run local backups and saves problems with data loss following hard disk crashes.
7. The Launch of the iPad, 2010
Introducing a third category of device between smartphone and laptop in 2010 seemed a bit of a gamble to many, but Steve Jobs presented a compelling case, describing a device that could browse the web, handle email, read eBooks, play games, enjoy video and music and do all of this better than a laptop can.
Jobs' demonstration generated a great reception for the device itself, possibly the most significant presentation since the unveiling of the iPod nine years earlier. The highlight was when Jobs sat in a comfortable chair and started browsing the web on the device, relayed to the audience on a big screen.
6. Launching the 17 inch PowerBook at Macworld 2003
Back in 2003, Apple was reaping the rewards of a successful new desktop operating system (Mac OS X) and the massive phenomenon that was the iPod. In 2003, a famous presentation recalled some previous successes (such as the Titanium PowerBook G4) and demonstrated how Apple was improving year on year with a series of charts.
Aiming to replace desktops with notebooks following the success of the first Titanium, Jobs unveiled the 17 inch PowerBook, a 1 inch thick computer that for the next few years would be the thinnest portable computer available. What was notable from this presentation is that Jobs appeared to have more affection for this computer than any other device since the first Macintosh.
5. MacBook Air – It Fits in an Envelope!
Despite the success of the Titanium PowerBooks, Steve Jobs naturally knew that Apple could do better. In 2008 they released the MacBook Air, an incredibly slim computer that added a third notebook option and launched the already high bar into the stratosphere.
This was done by dealing with issues of weight, display size and processor power while circumventing the compromises that competitors such as Sony were forced to make to get their TZ notebook down to its limited dimensions.
Typically armed with some images, graphics and a MacBook Air-sized envelope, Steve Jobs revealed the new notebook computer with considerable style.
4. Announcing and Demonstrating Mac OS X at MacWorld 2000
At MacWorld San Francisco in 2000 Steve Jobs presented a demonstration which he told the audience would “blow you away."
On that day he launched Mac OS X, with a single OS strategy, state of the art “plumbing" (referring to the interface between software and hardware), killer graphics and a focus on the Internet.
Notably, Jobs recognised that with 25 million users still running their previous operating systems, Apple had to provide support for those using OS 7, 8 and 9. Despite this, Mac OS X was on sale just a few months later. The most interesting thing about this speech, however, was that the operating system was based on the same kernel as Linux, something that would afford Mac OS X considerable resilience over the years and help it to become a threat to Microsoft's Windows platform.
3. Wowing Crowds with the iPad 2
On March 2nd 2011, Steve Jobs made his last product launch event appearance with the unveiling of the iPad 2. While the device probably didn’t need to be updated at that stage (a single year after launch), Jobs was presumably keen that it shouldn’t be left behind.
Of course an emotional speech in hindsight, this shouldn’t get in the way of the fact that he gave an amazing presentation, just a few months before his full retirement and subsequent passing on October 5th. The reaction from the audience when the device is revealed to be available in black and white finishes is great, but better is the revelation that the new iPad 2 is 33% slimmer than the original, and even thinner than an iPhone!
2. Changing the World with the iPhone, 2007
It was at MacWorld 2007 that the mobile phone industry was spun on its head with the release of the iPhone, something Jobs himself described as “a revolutionary product that changes everything." You might call this nothing more than a hyperbolic soundbite, but in truth, he was right.
Of all of the great presentations, this single event is probably the most significant. Jobs knew how important it was to the future of mobile communications and computing as a whole, and by recalling some of Apple’s successes from the past (relayed via the big screen behind him) he was able to contextualize the iPhone, launched as a widescreen iPod, a new phone and a breakthrough mobile Internet device – that were all the same piece of hardware.
1. Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address
None of Steve Jobs’ speeches can possibly surpass the 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, in which he discussed three stories from his life and urged graduates to face life’s challenges and setbacks.
Beyond Jobs’ own life and the amazing turns that it took, the speech is a stunningly moving set of recollections that show considerable insight into his life, such as a calligraphy class that he attended, how being fired from his own company “reset" his career (founding NExT and Pixar) and of course how Apple was started. But what is most moving is how this message ties in with facing death and his surviving cancer the previous year.
- Author's own experience.