How Steve Jobs Created His Perfect App

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Steve Jobs was known for his incredible presentation and keynote skills. The man could sell anything, but he needed a proper tool to do so. That tool was Keynote, which would eventually become part of the iWork suite. But how was keynote created?

Over at Quora, they have posted a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Keynote. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1998 in the wake of Cupertino’s NeXT buyout, he was called upon to give a keynote at Macworld.

As he had been countless times before, for this keynote, Jobs was inspired by Xerox. He knew that he wanted to “produce beautiful slides like the great photographic sales presentation slides the Xerox salespeople would use.” But as far as Jobs was concerned, Microsoft PowerPoint was broken, worth of respect “only to the level that in the correct hands it could be a crude yet broken tool.” And Jobs would have to run it on Windows, an insult added to injury.

Ultimately, Jobs decided the only way to do his 1998 Keynote was by using Quicktime Player. From there, Quicktime became the basis of the custom presentation software Apple’s software engineers were writing specifically for Steve, Keynote. From there, the rest is history:

By early 2001 Steve had a working alpha version of what later became Keynote 1.0 and it was used to present the iPod to the world. Keynote was fully designed organically by Apple from the ground up and it was designed to meet Steve’s exact requirements. Keynote was not originally designed to be a public software release, but the team built something so magical and so complete, Steve was convinced he would release the software to compete with PowerPoint. He particularly loved the dramatic motion effect to impart the Kinesthetic environment he was trying to achieve.

Go give the whole thing a read. It’s a fascinating history of a much-overlooked app that has played as big a part in the big Apple product unveilings of the last decade as Steve Jobs himself has, and it’s full of great little trivia details. A must read.

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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