It’s been a whole decade since the passing of Steve Jobs on 5 October 2011.
Before we trigger a debate on whether a post-Steve Apple is still the same company, this feature isn’t about that. It’s a look back at Steve Jobs’ finest moments on stage, introducing products that would change the course of the tech industry forever. You’ll remember many of these from Apple’s recent history (first iPhone and iPad), but there are a few unexpected surprises in there, too.
The first announcement that Steve Jobs ever did was way back in 1984 (even though technically, the Apple I was the first Apple product ever). He unveiled the Macintosh, the very first device to put Apple on the stage. To give you an idea of how far we’ve come, its biggest competitor back in the day was IBM.
Watching the young Steve at the top of his game will send chills down your spine. Also worth watching for the Macintosh’s cheekily clever introduction.
1984 ad (1984)
Okay, it’s not quite an Apple announcement, but this is an important moment in Apple history as this ad marked the start of Apple’s marketing genius. And also the long-standing relationship between Jobs and Lee Clow of ad agency Chiat/Day.
Directed by Ridley Scott, the ad was inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian novel of the same name, and told of a future dominated by IBM drones. Of course, Apple steps in to save the day and the future. Somewhat ironic since nowadays, the tables have turned and Apple fans are the ones regarded as drones by those not on Team Apple.
Think different campaign (1997)
Wonder how Think Different came about? It all started here. Unlike the Apple today we know to be the Cool Kids Club, the Apple back hadn’t quite attained that cool cult status. On the contrary, it was quite the misfit.
To cement Steve’s return to the company, he calls up Lee Clow of the 1984 ad fame to create a campaign to set the company apart. Steve had a part to play in its creation too as he wrote some of the now famous lines himself. Initially, they wanted to get Robin Williams to read the lines, but were told that the actor doesn’t do ads. Steve was also supposed to voice the ad, but he chose to go with the Richard Dreyfuss version because he wanted it to be about Apple and not him.
Remember the playful iMac? It’s the Apple product to herald Steve’s triumphant return. The announcement was held at the Flint Auditorium of De Anza Community College in Cupertino which he had used before back in 1984. In an era when computers were mostly beige boxes, the iMac set Apple apart from the masses as a quirky and creative tool.
In the introduction video, it pays cheeky tribute to the original announcement back in 1984 when “Hello (again)” flashes across the screen, a device recently used again in the ad for the latest iMac. Watch to see what we mean.
This marks the second coming of Apple. Prior to this announcement, Steve had been acting as interim CEO for two and a half years after being ousted from the company that he had co-founded.
The raucous applause that greets this revelation proves that for all the hate that this man get, he has his equal share of love. And it’s from this point onwards, when Steve Jobs moves from being interim CEO to iCEO that Apple started making the products that garnered them great acclaim even to this day.
So if there’s one thing that the man teaches you, it’s if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.
This device introduction cemented Apple’s position as not just another computer maker but a cool tech company capable of many tricks. Remember those silhouetted ads set to cool upbeat music? The world didn’t think it needed music players at that time, but the iPod changed all that with its sleek form factor. After all, 1000 songs in a player with built-in FireWire for fast transfers and charging was unheard of back then.
Before you knew it, everyone you knew had an iPod. And if you still used a Discman, you were uncool. Remember that Apple still sells the iPod in the form of the iPod touch, 20 years on.
Yes, it’s been 14 years since the first iPhone emerged from Steve’s pocket. This was the gamechanger of all gamechangers, the device that has kept Apple at the top of its game for so many years now was first unveiled on stage way back in 2007. It might not have been the first smartphone, but it was one of the first smartphones that mattered. Little did the people in that room realise they were witnessing a milestone in tech history.
Multi-touch makes its first appearance here. Jobs tried to say Apple was doing several products: "a wide-screen iPod with touch controls; A revolutionary mobile phone; A breakthrough internet-communication device". In fact, they were a single product that many of us use every day.
Another year, another industry-changing device. Nobody thought they needed a tablet until the iPad appeared. Watch how Steve introduces the new device category by slagging off the Windows-based netbook, which was extremely popular back then.
Fun fact: You would not have expected this, but the iPad was in development even before the iPhone but the company thought it more important to introduce the iPhone first. Looks like they made the right call.
One more thing
The magic of Apple keynotes often laid in the infamous One More Thing surprises. Since Steve Jobs first uttered the phrase at the 1998 MacWorld Expo in San Francisco, it has been a hotly-anticipated part of Apple keynotes for as long as we can remember. It was stopped temporarily after Jobs passed away in 2011, but found its way back on stage in 2014 in the form of the Apple Watch.
Stanford commencement address (2005)
Technically, it’s not a Stevenote. But this moment on a stage that’s not Apple’s is probably one of the most memorable to date. Like he said, this Stanford commencement address is as close to a graduation as Steve Jobs has ever gotten (he dropped out of Reed College).
He cited that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that ever happened to him. How is that even possible? Watch for a much-needed butt-kick of inspiration on a rainy morning.
The most important message to take from this? The only way to do great work is to love what you do.