I was fortunate enough to attend three Stevenotes, all at Macworld Expo between 2006 and 2008. Prior to that time I had attended six John Sculley keynotes and one Michael Spindler, but other than the key topics for each of those presentations -- and a few notable keynote demo failures -- I don't recall being that excited. On the other hand, the three Stevenotes were incredibly exciting.
In 2006, it was Steve's discussion of the change to Intel CPUs that was the excitement. I remember his "one more thing" -- the first MacBook Pro. He compared it to the PowerBook G4, explaining that it was about 5 times faster than the older device, but the inclusion of an iSight camera in the device seemed to get the biggest applause. He did an iChat video call with Phil Schiller (standing in the crowd with another MacBook Pro), and the smile on Phil's face was classic.
2007 remains completely etched into my memory because it was the Macworld Expo where Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. I really had the feeling that I was witnessing the birth of something that would change the world; I think most smartphone vendors would agree. That painting you see there? It hangs on the wall of my office. It's a painting by Nitrozac (of Joy of Tech fame) of Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone. I look at it every time I need a little bit of inspiration.
That last Stevenote, in 2008, was a lot of fun. Steve came out onto the Moscone Center stage to a lot of hollering. Product of the year was the MacBook Air, and Steve touted the new Maps with location feature for the iPhone, both of which I set about obtaining as soon as I got back to the hotel. He thrilled the crowd by pulling the MacBook Air out of a standard interoffice envelope, and I remember wanting the keynote to end so I could go put my hands on one.
From the minute he walked onto the Moscone Center stage, every eye in the place was riveted on this guy in jeans and a black mock turtleneck. I'm just glad that I had the opportunity to see the master in action.
I got to go to the last two official "Stevenotes" at Macworld, those in 2007 and in 2008. For those playing along at home, 2007 was when the iPhone was introduced, and 2008 was the MacBook Air's debut. We'll start with 2007, in which Kelly Was In Line At Three In The Morning.
Remember, 2007 is when we got the iPhone (and the first AppleTV). I know this is odd, but my favorite part of 2007's address was when the Stevenote went completely south. He was using a remote and it quit working, which made him comment people backstage were probably scrambling. Then he started a story about how Back In The Day he and Woz would hang out at Berkeley (where Woz was going to school) and for fun they built little gadgets to screw up tv signals. They would see some people watching Star Trek in the lounge and they'd goof up the signal just long enough for someone to stand up, then when they sat down block the signal again, and repeat it as necessary until someone was finally contorted into a position that was completely unnatural (and as an added bonus, completely hilarious). It was fascinating to me that listening to him tell that story seemed to be just as smooth as giving the rest of the presentation.
When I went back in 2008, I was just wondering what was in store this time around. I was excited because it was still Steve, but having seen one already, I wasn't wondering what would happen or how the logistics worked. I got something pretty cool though: the grand unveiling of Apple's Interoffice Mail Envelope. Apple was the first company to ditch the floppy drive and go optical drive only with the iMac, Steve's "comeback" machine, and now they were the first to ditch that too! It was impressive to see in person, and even still I have a hard time believing I was there.
When Steve is up there (and the jeans and turtleneck help this illusion), it's like your older brother's cool friend cluing you in to a great new band, or having the geek in your life show you the new thing they just got. Even if you don't understand a single thing they're telling you, if they are THAT excited then you can sometimes catch that excitement yourself. Every single person from Apple involved in a Stevenote has always made me excited about whatever they were talking about, so I know whatever Reality Distortion Field Steve has, he's at least taught the rest of them the basics so they continue to thrill us with each announcement.
It was fun to reminisce about The Good Old Days with TUAW staff. I hope you enjoyed it too!