Throughout his second tenure at Apple, Steve Jobs has been recognized as a master showman. Unfortunately, with today's announcement that Jobs will be temporarily stepping down for medical leave, it will be at least several months before we see Jobs heading up the company again. We wish him a speedy return to health, and we hope to see him onstage again soon.
Since his return in 1996, Jobs has turned Apple from a company near death and spiraling toward irrelevance to one with a booming PC business and some of the hottest gadgets on the market. Any move that Apple makes today grabs attention, not only from techies like us but also the mainstream press. Without Jobs at the helm, it's quite possible that this wouldn't be the case. While Apple is not a one-man show, and many competent, capable people work for the company, Jobs has led the way. And many product announcements have come out of Apple since he returned. Here are a few of the bigger ones, and what they've meant to Apple.
1997: Jobs Announces Alliance With Microsoft
It seemed like an impossible, unthinkable, unholy alliance: Apple and Microsoft. But in July 1997, during his keynote presentation at Macworld Expo Boston, Jobs announced that Microsoft had bought $150 million in Apple stock, that Internet Explorer would become the default browser on every new Mac, that Microsoft would continue selling Office for the Mac, and that the two companies had reached settlements on various patents.
1998: The iMac Premieres
In 1998, despite signs that it was turning its fortunes around, Apple was still in dire straits. Enter the iMac, the colorful, friendly, consumer-oriented Mac desktop that arguably saved the company. Starting at $1299, and presented in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the original Mac in 1984, the iMac captured people's imagination. And boy, did it sell: Apple sold over 6 million of the systems before retiring the original iMac line in 2003. The iMac name lives on to this day with Apple's current flat-panel iMac.
1999: Apple Introduces the iBook
As 1999 rolled in, Apple remained very much on the road to recovery after a period where it seemed on the brink of failure. Part of the company's strategy included a new consumer laptop: the iBook. Billed as "iMac to go," the iBook took the curvy, colorful styling of the original iMac and put it into a 12-inch portable. Part of Jobs's keynote presentation involved Apple vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller (who gave last week's Macworld keynote) jumping off a platform with an iBook to show off its durability.