Before we all became terribly jaded through having Apple rumours relentlessly smashed into our eyeballs, Apple events were full of genuine surprises. And even in recent years, Apple has on occasion provided the odd shock, through somehow keeping things secret or going above and beyond speculation.
In this round-up, we’ve scoured Apple’s history to find our favourite moments of Apple-oriented astonishment, showmanship, and that phrase that once sent chills down the backs of every Apple fan: "one more thing…"
Steve Jobs WWDC Q&A (1997)
In 1997, Apple was actually beleaguered, and Steve Jobs had returned as a consultant, having yet to become ‘iCEO’. At WWDC, his Q&A with developers was at odds with corporate presentations of the time. Surprising in its humanity, this event within an event showcased where Apple would head over the next decade.
Bill Gates looms large (1997)
As Apple made its comeback, Steve Jobs announced a partnership with Microsoft. “Boo!” jeered the crowd. Jobs continued. “Cross-licensing!” BOOO! “Apple has decided to make Internet Explorer the default browser on the Macintosh…” BOOOOO! Adding to the comic theatricality, Bill Gates appeared in giant video form, looming over Jobs. It felt like an omen. But Jobs was prescient: “We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.”
Under a year after a new management team took over Apple, Jobs outlined a sharply focussed consumer grid: one ‘desktop’ and ‘portable’ product each for ‘consumer’ and ‘pro’ customers. The consumer desktop became iMac, which Jobs said arrived from “the marriage of the excitement of the internet with the simplicity of Macintosh”. No longer were all computers boring beige boxes. Some PC manufactures didn’t quite get it, though, laughably welding bits of translucent coloured plastic to said beige boxes.
The final ‘blank square’ in Apple’s grid, the consumer portable, was filled with what customers had demanded: an “iMac to go”. In hindsight, the dinky notebook looked a bit like a candy-coloured toilet seat, but at the time you were dead inside if you weren’t wowed and surprised. (And, as ‘one more thing’, Jobs noted it was wireless, too.)
OS X (2000)
Despite the internet’s increasing popularity (in part through the iMac), Apple still managed to keep some things secret, including the majority of OS X. Jobs showed it off in a surprisingly utilitarian demo, but there were plenty of gasps when he used the Dock’s magnification and minimisation.