2001 Revisited: Macworld Expo Tokyo

In my series 2001 Revisited, I’m covering Apple’s major announcements from 20 years ago.

On February 22 of that year, Steve Jobs put on a suit and tie and hosted Macworld Expo Tokyo. Video of the event can be seen here, and a lot of it is a rehashing of the San Francisco event that took place just six weeks earlier.1

Recapping Previous News

Jobs recapped the value of Mac OS X, including the new features, the Classic, Carbon and Cocoa environments and more. He then gave a demo of the Aqua user interface and some region-specific features including support for the world’s first high-quality Japanese fonts shipping for free on a personal computer.

Following a Maya demo on OS X, Jobs went over the Titanium PowerBook, reusing his “Power+Sex” line from the month before, and then played the product video:

Next, Jobs spoke about the new Power Mac G4s that were announced in the previous keynote, harping once again on the SuperDrive that shipped in the 733 MHz model.2 And, of course, Phil Schiller came out to race a 733 MHz G4 against a 1.5 GHz Pentium 4.

Apple’s spherical Pro Speakers were shown off, as were Apple’s 22-inch and 15-inch displays. The larger of the two saw its price cut to $2,999.

Apple's Displays in 2001

Apple & Nvidia

Jobs then announced a new Nvidia video card, the GeForce 3. As Nvidia’s David Kirk stood on stage, the GPU rendered Pixar’s famous Luxo Jr. scene in real-time. When it was first rendered in 1986, Jobs said it took a Cray supercomputer 75 hours to computer a single second of the film.

When comparing almost anything to its counterpart from 15 years ago, it’s a fun demo. It was followed by John Carmack showing off a game engine running atop Mac OS X.

The GeForce 3 would be an Apple exclusive GPU at launch, and was made available as a $600 build-to-order option in the Power Mac G4, starting in April.

The Digital Hub

After the Nvidia but, Jobs revisited Apple’s Digital Hub strategy, talking about the overall vision, as well as iMovie 2 and iTunes, which was still brand new and had already clocked 750,000 downloads.

Version 1.1 of the product was announced, with support for third-party CD burners, in addition to the CD burners found in Apple’s own products. Here’s a bit from Apple PR at the time:

Apple today announced iTunes 1.1, an update to its popular iTunes music software, which includes support for more than 25 third-party CD burners from popular vendors such as Iomega, La Cie, QPS and Sony. Since its debut at Macworld San Francisco last month, iTunes has been downloaded more than 750,000 times.

“With almost one million Mac users managing their digital music with iTunes, we are witnessing a revolution in digital music on the Mac,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iTunes 1.1 now supports over 25 third-party CD burners, so even more Mac users can create and burn their own custom music CDs.”

The list of supported drives could be found on Apple’s website.

After that bit of iTunes news, Jobs gave a demo of iDVD, which had been announced in San Francisco as well.

Power Mac G4 Cube

This event also included the one single update the Cube ever received, with the small computer gaining a CD-RW drive and a standard 128 MB of RAM, up from 64 GB. With these changes, the entry price dropped $200 to $1,299.

G4 Cube


iTools is iCloud’s great-grandfather, and at Macworld Expo Tokyo in 2001, the service went from being English-only to supporting Japanese as well. iCard, HomePage, email and more were live the day of the event

iMac (Early 2001)

The closing news of this event was a new set of iMacs. I’ve written about these machines at length, but the short version is that now all iMacs came with FireWire and the higher-end models came equipped with a CD-RW to burn CDs.

Speeds ranged from 400 MHz to 600 MHz, with prices starting at just $899 for the entry-level Indigo model. Like before, a Graphite model was available at the top end of the line.3

The other two cases were a bit more … interesting:

Blue Dalmation

Flower Power

According to Jobs, the new cases took 18 months to develop. They weren’t “colors,” but rather patterns molded “right into the plastic.” While some companies may have just used a decal, Apple wanted something special with these machines.

Wrapping Up

Like many other Macworld Expos, this one is on the light side when it came to new announcements from Apple, but it did get Apple’s products in front of a different media market. Maybe this iMac ad shown at the end is all you really need to remember about the event:

  1. If you were around in 2001, you may have seen this video via satellite. 
  2. These models shipped just a couple of days before this event. 
  3. Full specs can still be seen on Apple’s PR website.