2001 Revisited: WWDC 

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

And yes, in 2001, WWDC took place in May. That may seem strange to us now, but from 1989 to 2002, that’s when Apple hosted the conference. It’s been in June every year since, except for 2006, when it slipped to August.

I think we can guess what was keeping Apple busy that year.

Turns out, finding video of WWDC 2001 was way harder than I thought it would be. There are videos of Macworld keynotes that year on YouTube, but I can’t seem to find the developer conference. If you know of a copy of it, please let me know.

Thankfully, Apple’s press release archives go back to 2000, so we have something to go on.

As we’ve seen already, 2001 was a bonkers year for Apple, so I wasn’t surprised to see that the press release coverage left me thinking that WWDC that year was a bit sparse in terms of actual news.1

Here’s how Apple pitched the $1595 conference:

It’s time to raise your development to the power of ten! With Mac OS X, developers can create great-looking, robust software applications and high-performance hardware peripherals.

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, May 21-25, 2001 in San Jose, California, you will get the very latest information on Mac OS X and other important Apple technologies. What’s more, you’ll get it directly from Apple engineers and technology experts in more than 100 in-depth technical sessions and hands-on labs.

The unique combination of technologies in Mac OS X make WWDC 2001 especially interesting to Java and UNIX developers looking to take advantage of this new desktop platform.

The gift to attendees was something special: a black leather jacket with an Aqua X on the back. Here I am, with my jacket, given to me by James Thomson at Relay FM’s live show at WWDC 2018:

Stephen with a black leather OS X jacket

So, with that out of the way, let’s get to the news of WWDC 2001:

An Update on Apple Retail

The WWDC 2001 keynote took place just days after Apple had opened its first retail stores, and as such, Steve Jobs took some time to talk about them. Here’s a bit from Apple PR:

Apple today announced that its first two retail locations welcomed over 7,700 people and sold a combined total of $599,000 of merchandise during their first two day weekend. The stores, located in Glendale, California and McLean, Virginia are the first of 25 stores the company is opening across the U.S. in 2001.

“We are blown away with the numbers,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “More importantly, customers have told us they love everything about the store—from the knowledgeable sales staff to the Genius Bar to the store’s design and unique approach to presenting digital lifestyle solutions.”

Not a bad start at all.

An All-LCD Display Lineup

After updating its display lineup just a few months earlier, Apple took this chance to kill of its last stand-alone CRT. My all-time favorite Apple external display, the Apple Studio Display (17-inch ADC) was gone.

17-inch CRT

In its place was a new 17-inch flat panel display running at 1280 by 1024 pixels and a full 16.7 million colors. Here’s a bit from the press release:

The 17-inch Studio Display continues the award-winning industrial design of its 15- and 22-inch siblings that is both beautiful and functional. In addition to its slim desktop footprint and low power consumption, the 17-inch Studio Display also features the Apple Display Connector, an innovative single-connection quick-latch mechanism that combines USB, power and video in one cable, for easy hookup and reduced desktop clutter. For easy plug-and-play connections to peripherals, the 17-inch flat panel also offers a 2-port powered USB hub.

The 15-inch models was $599, the 17-inch cost $999 and the mammoth 22-inch ran $2,499.

Mac OS X Server

This one is a little confusing, as it was the second product Apple sold with this name. The first one was based on Rhapsody, Apple’s failed first attempt at smashing NeXTSTEP and Mac OS together. It was … quickly forgotten.

This new Mac OS X Server was based on Mac OS X 10.0 which had launched just two months before WWDC. To OS X, Apple had added a range of services that, according to the company, would let admins:

  • share files and printers with Macintosh, Windows, UNIX and Linux clients;
  • host Internet web sites with Apache, the world’s most popular web server;
  • enable collaborative web publishing and remote content management with WebDAV, the new extension to the HTTP protocol;
  • stream digital media over the Internet using the QuickTime Streaming Server;
  • deploy scalable network applications with WebObjects 5, Apple’s powerful pure Java application server;
  • can easily be managed with secure remote administration tools;
  • support SMTP, IMAP and POP mail protocols and provide anti-spamming services;
  • protect network resources and dynamically assign IP addresses using advanced networking services such as IP filtering firewall and DHCP;
  • locate Internet resources and organize IP-based work groups using standards-based – protocols DNS and Service Location Protocol (SLP);
  • provide students and educators with a consistent, personalized and controlled experience by centralizing the method of unifying system configurations with Macintosh – Manager and NetBoot; and
  • share user and group information between servers, utilizing NetInfo and LDAP-based directory services.

For a 10-client license, Mac OS X Server cost $499, with the unlimited license costing $999. Apple also sold a dual 533 MHz Power Mac G4 with a 4-port Ethernet card and OS X Server built-in for $3,999.

WebObjects 5

Uhhh, WebObjects got a big update at this WWDC. I find it hard to write or talk about WebObjects outside of making jokes about Apple’s infrastructure, so I’m just going to link to the press release and move on.

Pre-Installing Mac OS X

Even though it was basically brand new, at this event Apple announced that Mac OS X would be pre-installed on all new Macs — alongside Mac OS 9 — effective immediately:

“The reception of Mac OS X has been so positive that we’ve decided to pre-install it alongside Mac OS 9 on all Macs beginning today—two months ahead of schedule,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “This will give all our customers access to the world’s most advanced operating system and ensure a ready and lucrative market for Mac OS X applications.”

Beginning today, all new Macs coming from Apple’s factories will include both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9.1 pre-installed. The systems are set to default boot into Mac OS 9.1, but using Apple’s Dual Boot technology users can easily change the default boot to Mac OS X, and just as easily revert back to Mac OS 9.1 if they choose. During the transition, customers buying new Macs that do not yet have Mac OS X pre-installed will receive a free copy of Mac OS X.

A lot of people probably experienced Mac OS X for the first time because of this. I’ve heard many people say that they would boot into OS X, poke around a bit, then return to Mac OS 9 for getting their work done. Over time that would change, and this was one of the first big steps in that direction.


  1. Here’s a full list of sessions from the conference. There were a few special events for attendees as well.