Apple’s most-anticipated — and likely most-eventful — product introduction since the iPad is set for later this morning. It will undoubtedly be Tim Cook’s biggest moment yet as Apple’s CEO, with the company reportedly ready to unveil new products from what has been described as its most exciting product pipeline in a quarter century.
Anticipation among the Apple faithful couldn’t be any higher. Endless speculation and massive expectations about finally laying eyes on the long-awaited iWatch got us thinking about other memorable announcements from Apple’s 37-year history.
While you wait for this morning’s 10 a.m. liveblog from Apple’s big event, relive some of Cupertino’s past glories. Here are our picks for the 10 biggest Apple announcements of all time.
1,000 Songs in Your Pocket
The iPod is the single most significant device Apple released in the modern age — and possibly ever. This 2001 special event, which took place 13 years ago next month, transformed Apple from underdog computer company into world-straddling tech colossus.
The change didn’t happen overnight, but this presentation laid the groundwork for much of what Apple has accomplished in the years since.
Steve Jobs Returns to Apple
What more needs to be said about the return of Steve Jobs to Apple: It’s an astonishing comeback story that led to the greatest corporate turnaround in history. One reason this moment is great is because we know how things played out; the rest is because it’s truly hair-raising to see Jobs given a hero’s welcome by the Mac faithful.
The Introduction of Siri
Siri arrived at a difficult time for Apple. The iPhone 4s was the last device released during Steve Jobs’ lifespan, but by the time it was publicly unveiled he was too sick to demo it. Instead the job was given to Scott Forstall, who did an acceptable job of filling in.
True, Siri isn’t the only virtual assistant out there these days, but given how big a role she is likely to play in Apple’s future (at least based on what is suggested by patents), Siri’s introduction certainly counts as a memorable moment.
Given that the Mac celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year, its 1984 introduction (complete with Ridley Scott-directed Super Bowl commercial) is most likely fresh in your mind.
At just 30 years of age, Jobs was far from the eminently respected Silicon Valley elder he would mature into. But when it comes to unabashed love of technology, fatherly pride in Apple’s achievement and — from a fanboy perspective — a pure feel-good moment, nothing tops the announcement of the original Macintosh.
Bill Gates Bails Apple Out
These days Apple earns $325,000 per minute. Things were different in 1997, however, which is why the company gratefully accepted a cash injection of $150 million from archnemesis Microsoft.
A partnership with Microsoft might not be one of Apple’s proudest moments — the image of Bill Gates appearing on the MacWorld Boston screen like the giant Big Brother face in the 1984 commercial escaped nobody — but it was certainly an unforgettable scene.
The Digital Hub
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, his first task was taking a machete to the company’s confusing product lines, simplifying everything down to its most basic components. His next step was building everything back up again, transforming Apple into the ecosystem company it is today.
That ecosystem might have changed in the years since (the Mac is no longer the central hub of all things Apple), but the vision remains right on the money.
“These Aren’t Three Separate Devices…”
“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” Steve Jobs said from the stage in 2007. Few people realized the accuracy and significance of what he was saying, but less than a decade on, the iPhone is Apple’s golden device: the smartphone that dictated to the world what a smartphone should look like.
Jobs’ presentation, invoking the Rule of Threes, should be required viewing for would-be entrepreneurs everywhere.
There’s Something in the Air
Compared to what was considered a “thin” notebook at the time, the MacBook Air looked like the kind of future tech you’d see in a sci-fi movie. Watching Steve Jobs build up to its announcement and then knock it out of the park is a thing of beauty. This is still my favorite Apple announcement of all time.
OS X Says Hello
Anyone seeking a sense of how far ahead Steve Jobs thought should consider the fact that the technology he developed while in his wilderness years at NeXT laid the groundwork for OS X, an operating system that has sustained Apple for 14 years and counting. Hearing Jobs lay out his goals for OS X, and considering how closely Apple has adhered to them in the years since, makes his introduction of the operating system a truly memorably moment.
One Tablet to Rule Them All
As Apple’s most recent introduction of a new product category, the iPad’s arrival in 2010 is the event most likely to be used as a yardstick for Apple’s unveiling of a wearable device.
When Jobs sat back in a leather Le Corbusier chair, chatting about the iPad as if he was at home in Palo Alto, it represented a new way of using an Apple product. The iWatch will presumably be much the same.
Let’s just hope it’s as triumphant a moment.