By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 1:59 am
I’m not sure if there’s any consensus among historians about when the first Steve Jobs keynote happened–or, actually, if anyone has even asked that question until now. I like to think that it would be reasonable to say that it was in August 1976, when Jobs attended a computer fair in Atlantic City and demoed the Apple II, which was still a work in progress at the time. (Jobs wasn’t the keynote speaker at the event as far as I know, but that’s OK–he regularly gives Stevenotes these days that aren’t attached to conferences, so the definition of Stevenote encompasses any public presentation by Apple’s co-founder.)
As far as I know, there’s no surviving video from that Atlantic City show, and it’s possible that no footage exists of Jobs showing off later Apple II variants or the Apple III or the Lisa. But we have documentation of him talking about the original Macintosh at the time of its introduction, in the handy-dandy embeddable form of YouTube video.
This is the famous fall 1983 event in which Jobs unveils the Mac, shows the “1984″ commercial, and smiles an intensely proud smile that’s probably the single most human moment in a Jobs public appearance.
Here’s the almost-as-famous October 1983 “Dating Game” bit with Jobs as host and Bill Gates–who lavishes praise on the Mac–as contestant. (This might be from the same event as the clip above–anyone know?)
Here’s a bowtied Jobs at a January 24th, 1984 Apple shareholders’ meeting. I like the nod to Chariots of Fire, the flashy use of speech synthesis, the references to the then-cutting-edge Apple Lisa, and, especially, the tech references (the 68000 CPU “eats 8088s for breakfast,” the “3 1/2-inch disk drive will be the drive of the 80s,” and the Mac’s screen is “incredible”). Most of what makes a Stevenote a Stevenote is here, down to the inclusion of new commercials.
And here he is in April 1984 in both bowtie and suspenders, in an event (apparently for Apple dealers) that has much of the same skeleton as the modern Stevenote, including a recap of recent accomplishments with impressive sales figures (50,000 Macs sold in just 74 days!).
And here’s something that isn’t a Stevenote–although it apparently played just before Jobs strode onstage in video #1 above–but I came across it and can’t not share it. It’s the goofiest thing you’ll ever see with the Apple name on it.
Okay, two things that aren’t Stevenotes.