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TUAW looks back at Stevenotes past


As Apple watchers, TUAW staffers tend to congregate in San Francisco each January for Macworld Expo. Until recently, the central event of each Expo was the Stevenote. Since TUAW bloggers have covered our fair share, I've collected some memories of Macworld Expo's Keynote Speeches. We'll start with Victor and Mike.


The only one I attended was the Intel announcement in 2006. But it was huuuuge -- lots of gasps from the audience, it seems like a long time ago!

Anyway, I remember Steve's polish and how it seemed to effortless for him. Like a geek showing his friends all his cool new toys.


Among the Stevenotes I've attended (quite a few over the years), the one that stands out for me is Macworld Boston 1997. I was an enterprise customer at the time, and our Apple SE had arranged for me to get a pass to sit up front in the press section, quite near the stage.

Steve's announcement of the alliance with Microsoft ($150m investment, IE to become default Mac browser, Office development locked in for at least 5 years) took a lot of people by surprise. The "IE to become the default Mac browser" announcement did not go over well at all. But it wasn't until the gigantic projected noggin of Bill Gates appeared on the screen that the situation turned ugly. In the press section, even, there were boos and stern shakings of heads along with the gasps and scattered applause from the audience.

I don't think Steve had ever had a Macworld crowd go rogue in this fashion (see for yourself), and it seemed to me that he was a little bit embarrassed by the reaction. I certainly would have been -- you invite a guest into your keynote, representing a company that has just saved your company from possible doom and destruction, and the audience treats him like an unwanted interloper? Awkward.

Aside from the 1997 event, I'd have to say that my two favorite keynotes were the ones I had the privilege of liveblogging for TUAW: 2008 and (the Steveless "Philnote") 2009. Unfortunately I missed the 2007 historic iPhone introduction, and had to get the play-by-play over the phone from Laurie Duncan (the roar of the crowd in the background as Steve asked "Are you getting it?" was spine-tingling).


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.KELLY GUIMONT:

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!

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