2001 Revisited: the iPod Introduction

In my series 2001 Revisited, I’m covering Apple’s major announcements from 20 years ago. Today, we’re talking about the announcement of the original iPod, which took place during a small press event hosted in Apple’s Town Hall venue.

I haven’t been able to find a great copy of the video, but there is a full-length version on YouTube that’s passable:

The event is pretty subdued. 9/11 had taken place just six weeks before and cast a bit of a shadow over everything. Then there’s Jobs presentation, which is casual and friendly.

The first part of the event is taken up by Jobs talking about the company’s Digital Hub strategy as he demoed iMovie and iDVD running on a Titanium PowerBook. This event was nine months after the strategy was announced, and while iPhoto was still off in the future, things were coming along.

Jobs then turned to hardware devices. While the “iApps” were great, the lack of hardware to interface with them was a shame, he said. They chose music to get started, he said, because it was a very large target market, yet no clear market leader when it came to digital music.

Jobs said that Apple’s brand was a perfect fit for the market and that the company was well-positioned to take on things like portable CD players with a hard-drive-based player.

They named it iPod, but in true Steve Jobs fashion, he didn’t show the product right away.

Instead, he spoke about features, and the biggest one would become the marketing slogan for the iPod.

It held 1,000 songs in your pocket.

A 5 GB capacity, 1.8-inch hard drive that was just .2 inches thick helped make the iPod’s small size possible. Jobs compared the iPod’s size to a deck of cards: 2.4 inches wide x 4 inches tall x .78 inches thick. At 6.5 ounces, it was lighter than cell phones at the time.

The iPod included a FireWire port, allowing support for fast transfers and charging.1 Users could expect 10 hours of music playback thanks to the iPod’s rechargeable battery.

Jobs then finally got around to showing off the device, with its stainless steel back and white front:

Original iPod

The design is now classic, but at the time, the iPod introduced an elegance to the market that just wasn’t present in other products. The black and white, backlit display ran at 160-by-128-pixels, and sat above a scroll wheel that physically turned. It may have lacked the grace that later iPods would have with their solid-state storage and click wheels, but the original iPod was still a stunner.

Those controls made zipping around a large music library fast and easy. Jobs showed these controls off with an overhead camera — after making a joke about biting his fingernails. The demo was simple and slow, but was effective at showing off what the iPod could do.

Eventually, Jobs makes his way to iTunes, announcing version 2 of the application. The update brought much faster CD burning, a new equalizer, crossfade support and more.

iTunes 2

And, of course, support for the iPod. Here’s a bit from the company’s press release about how it worked:

Apple today announced iTunes 2, the next generation of its award-winning digital music software for the Mac that has been distributed to over six million users. iTunes 2 adds the three most requested features from iTunes users: MP3 CD burning, an equalizer and cross fading.

But iTunes 2’s most stunning new feature is its seamless integration with iPod, Apple’s new breakthrough portable MP3 player. When iPod is first connected to a Mac running iTunes 2, all the songs and playlists from iTunes 2 are automatically downloaded into iPod, and updated whenever the iPod is plugged back into the Mac.

“The world’s best and easiest-to-use digital music software just got better,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iTunes 2 seamlessly integrates with iPod to revolutionize the portable MP3 music experience.”

Even though this was early days, the iPod and iTunes 2 combo had some clever features, like Auto-Sync. Here’s Apple:

iPod’s revolutionary Auto-Sync feature makes it easy to get your entire music collection into iPod and update it whenever you connect iPod to your Mac. Simply plug your new iPod into your Mac with the supplied FireWire cable, and all of your iTunes songs and playlists are automatically downloaded into iPod at blazing FireWire speed. Then just unplug and go. Whenever you plug iPod back into your Mac it will be automatically updated with your latest iTunes songs and playlists, usually in seconds. There has never been a faster and easier way to always have your up-to-the-minute music and playlists with you wherever you go.

If you really want to dive into Apple’s marketing of the time, don’t miss this grab of the original iPod web pages.

Then there’s this original ad:

The original 5 GB iPod sold for $399, starting a few weeks after this event. And while not all at once, the iPod changed Apple. Originally only available for the Mac, the iPod soon found its way to Windows, as did the forthcoming iTunes Music Store. As these events unfolded, Apple slowly changed from a computer maker to a company focused more on consumer electronics.

Five years after the original iPod was introduced — and a mere three months before the original iPhone was unveiled — Jason Snell wrote to mark the occasion:

Since its first release five years ago on October 23, 2001, the iPod has become one of the most recognizable products in the world. It has transformed Apple’s business and its public image, and is probably responsible for a “halo effect” that has improved the Mac’s image and fortunes as well. Whether you’re a rabid iPod lover or someone who just doesn’t see why the iPod’s such a big deal, it’s hard to dispute the gigantic impact the iPod has had on our technological world.

On the day the iPod was unveiled, none of us knew we were witnessing the arrival of the first iconic product of the 21st century. We had a pretty good idea we were going to see an Apple music player, but we got more than we were expecting.

I’ve often wondered if Apple knew what was on the horizon in terms of its business when it launched the iPod. It catapulted Apple to financial heights it had never seen, and took it from being that company that made weird computers to one that everyone knew.

Some Other iPod Coverage:

Lots of folks are marking this anniversary. Here’s some other cool stuff to check out:

  1. Jobs compared this to USB, which was much slower at the time. FireWire could move 1,000 songs in 10 minutes, whereas USB would take a mind-numbing 5 hours to do so. 

2001 Revisited: Mac OS X 10.1 Puma Announced

In my series 2001 Revisited, I’m covering Apple’s major announcements from 20 years ago. On September 25, 2001, the company announced the first major update to Mac OS X, and it shipped just four days later.1

Dubbed “Mac OS X v10.1” and code-named “Puma,” this release looked an awful lot like the original version, but brought a lot of refinement and improvements under its very Aqua hood:

Puma Desktop

To see a lot more of Mac OS X 10.1, check out its entry in my macOS Screenshot Library


Puma was announced by Steve Jobs at Seybold 2001, just two weeks after the events of 9/11, something mentioned at the start of the event. Apparently, Jobs was scheduled to be in Paris and was going to appear on video for the conference, but ended up giving his keynote in person.


Jobs opened his keynote saying that Mac OS X was the most important thing going on Apple, and was the first big overhaul of the company’s operating system since the original Macintosh in 1984:

“What we have done is with Mac OS X was what everyone said was impossible. We have married the power and openness of Unix — all open-source — with the elegance and simplicity of the Macintosh and the Macintosh’s extremely powerful and broad applications platform — tens of thousands of applications. We have married these two things together; no one thought it was possible, even some folks at Apple didn’t think it was possible in the first few years, but we’ve managed to do it. And it’s great.

What’s resulted has been the platform we’re going to build on for the next 15-20 years.

Of course, at this point, Mac OS X was still very young. The first release had been out a mere six months, and there was work to do.

Jobs said that the software team didn’t take a vacation after OS X shipped, but kept working to improve the operating system. Four point updates had been released over the Internet, but 10.1 was something much bigger.


Phil Schiller came out to discuss Mac OS X 10.1. He reiterated that Mac OS X was Apple’s platform for the future, and that the company’s embrace of open standards and the Digital Hub were both critical to this future — as were things like the Mac’s graphics and Internet capabilities.

The first feature Schiller spoke about was speed, which is one of the biggest knocks against the original version of Mac OS X. He said that the company had been working on this at every level of the operating system. Here are some stats rattled off in the presentation:

  • Application launching: 2-3 times faster
  • Drop-down menus appeared on screen 5 times faster
  • Resizing windows: 5-10 times faster

Here’s John Siracusa on that last one, which was one of the places where Mac OS X 10.0 often felt the slowest:

Since the release of 10.0, almost every Apple presentation that has mentioned Mac OS X has talked about the need for performance improvements, and has specifically mentioned window resizing as a bullet point, right alongside better hardware support and the need for native applications. It boggles my mind that something as mundane as window resizing was allowed to ship in 10.0 in such a horrendous state that it garnered special mention in every significant review of the OS X—including Apple’s!

The worst window resize performance in 10.0.x was provided by none other than the Finder itself. List view windows, in particular, were so unresponsive as to be nearly useless. Resizing a list view Finder window was one of the first things I tried in 10.1.

I was overjoyed when I saw how responsive it was, even on the G3/400. It’s still nowhere near as fast as outline resizing (in Mac OS 9 or X), but the performance in 10.0.x was so bad that anything close to acceptable performance feels super-fast in 10.1.

Of course, that feeling wears off eventually. But the 10.1 performance is good enough to make list view Finder windows useful again, and that’s something, at least. The resize performance in all the other Finder window views is also improved. The only remaining problem with Finder window resizing is a slight pause before there’s any response (especially on slower systems).

The user interface of Puma was very similar to that of Mac OS X, but Aqua had been improved in some key ways for the new release.

Schiller said the most requested feature had been the ability to move the Dock to the left or right side of the display, unlocking the ability to put the Dock in the correct place, along the right side of the screen.2

Dock icons gained custom contextual commands. For example, a user could control iTunes playback from its icon. This feature is alive and well today.

10.1 also introduced system status icons in the menu bar, making it easy to review things like WiFi network connections, battery life and more. This was a far cry from the menu bar system we have today, but it was a nice way to bring some of the old Control Strip magic to OS X.

Beyond that, System Preferences had been overhauled, file extension support for sharing files had been broadened3 and the open-source components under the hood had all been updated.

The graphics system underneath Aqua had been upgraded, with OpenGL becoming faster and USB printer setup becoming automatic, complete with broad laser printer support.

On the Digital Hub front, iMovie 2 was being bundled with OS X 10.1, and iDVD 2 was announced for an October launch. CD and DVD burning within Finder and iTunes was made much easier with Puma as well. To round this out, DVD Player was introduced, turning the Mac into a DVD player.

AppleScript enjoyed stage time, with Sal Soghoian leading the introduction of AppleScript Studio, which allowed users to explore the language and what it could do.


For users hopping aboard the Mac OS X train for the first time, Puma cost $129, the same as the original version. However, for customers who had paid for Mac OS X, Apple charged just $19.95 for the upgrade … at least on paper.

The company also offered free upgrade discs for the month of October, as long as supplies lasted.

Siracusa mentioned the unusual release on the second page of his review:

Mac OS X 10.1 was released on September 29th, 2001, but that date depends on your definition of “released.” Update CDs were handed out for free after Apple’s keynote speech at the Seybold publishing conference in San Francisco. People who did not attend Seybold have several ways to get the update. Starting on the 25th, free update CDs are being handed out at Apple stores and some other retail outlets. This free update does not include the developer tools, but those can be downloaded by all ADC online members (free registration required) from Apple’s web site. Finally, owners of Mac OS X 10.0 can order a full update containing a Mac OS 9.2.1 CD, a Mac OS X 10.1 update CD, and a developer tools CD through Apple’s Mac OS X Up-to-Date program at a cost of $19.95 (plus state tax). The 10.1 update is not available for free download.

So, like I said, “released on September 29th,” right? Nothing’s ever simple with Apple these days, it seems. Nevertheless, you can be sure that the 10.1 update, repeatedly called “a free update” by Apple, is finding its way into the hands of Mac OS X users everywhere, despite the distribution and pricing confusion.


I’ve heard Puma called the “Apology Release,” and surely the price and features combine to back that up. The truth is that at its release, Mac OS X was still pretty rough around the edges. Puma didn’t smooth them all out, but it shaved down the worst offenders.

However, even that wasn’t enough to move some of the Mac faithful away from the classic Mac OS. Here’s how Siracusa left things:

I wrote at the start of this article that I want to believe in Mac OS X. I want to believe that it will replace Mac OS 9 in a way that improves upon every aspect of the classic Mac OS user experience. Unfortunately, although this may still come to pass, Mac OS X 10.1 is not that version of Mac OS.

But 10.1 improves on 10.0.x in many important ways. Overall system performance shows the biggest improvement, but it is not as drastic as some reports may lead you to believe. Other areas have stagnated. The user interface has not made significant strides since 10.0.x. Many annoying bugs remain, and many features have yet to be implemented.

Should you purchase Mac OS X 10.1? If you already use and enjoy Mac OS X 10.0, you should run out and pick up a free 10.1 upgrade CD at your local retailer as soon as possible. If you tried 10.0.x and found it somewhat lacking, I recommend at least giving 10.1 a try to see if the improvements are enough to push you over the edge. If you are waiting for the point of no return, where Mac OS X is a complete no-brainer upgrade from Mac OS 9, you’ll have to wait a little longer.

In his review for Macworld, Jason Snell addressed OS 9 users as well:

Apple’s new version of the OS, Mac OS X 10.1, is what we’ve been waiting for. With improved reliability, dramatic speed boosts, many interface improvements, and a clutch of native software, this release is the first version of OS X that’s truly ready for general use.

Although Mac OS X is still not a feature-for-feature match for Mac OS 9, it’s no longer a step backward (see “Are You Ready for OS X?” June 2001). This version combines much of OS 9’s functionality with a collection of improvements that make upgrading to OS X a serious possibility for even dyed-in-the-wool devotees of the classic Mac OS.

In short, Puma was a big upgrade to the original version of Mac OS X, and while the platform still had a long way to go, 10.1 was a huge step in the right direction.

  1. In our current world of “Announce-at-WWDC-then-Ship-in-the-Fall” release cycles, this blows my mind a little, but the Mac was a much smaller and simpler platform two decades ago. And as discussed later on in the article, you’ll see that even the release date of this update is a little hard to pin down. ↩︎
  2. Don’t @ me. ↩︎
  3. A topic for another day, perhaps. ↩︎

2001 Revisited: Macworld New York

In my series 2001 Revisited, I’m covering Apple’s major announcements from 20 years ago. On July 18, 2001, Steve Jobs presented the keynote at Macworld New York, less than two months after WWDC 2001.

Retail Update

This event took place a couple of months after the first two Apple Stores opened, and Jobs seemed eager to show photos of them off before announcing four new stores:

This would bring the total number of Apple Stores to six, with a goal of 25 being set for the end of 2001. To share his excitement about this, Jobs ran a video showing off the concept.

Mac OS X

Next, Jobs turned to Mac OS X, which had been on the market for a mere 116 days at the time of this keynote.1 He said that while Apple was still in the early days of the transition away from the classic Mac OS, there were many signs that the young operating system was doing well:

  • Over 1,000 native Mac OS X apps shipping
  • 29% of Mac developers were targeting OS X in a release due within three months of WWDC
  • 55% of them were planning releases for OS X by December 2001

Jobs went on to talk about “10 on X,” a collection of ten great apps that were coming soon to Mac OS X. These included some major names, including titles from Macromedia, Adobe and Microsoft.2

Demos of these applications took up a big chunk of time in the keynote, but when they were done, Jobs moved on to talk about OS X itself.

He lauded the operating system’s progress, with four updates being pushed to version 10.0 since its launch. These updates has patched bugs and added features such as support for burning CDs in iTunes.

These were minor updates, ticking the version number up to 10.0.4 by the time Macworld New York rolled around. What was next, Jobs said, was a major update.

Mac OS X 10.1 Preview

Jobs then went on to preview Mac OS X 10.1 Puma:


I will write more fully about Puma this fall when the 20th anniversary of its release rolls around, but what Jobs showed off was a more refined, feature-complete version of Mac OS X.

10.1 was focused on performance, something that plagued OS X in those early days. If you haven’t read John Siracusa’s review of 10.0 in a decade or two, this section really shows how slow OS X could be.

Aqua, the Mac’s new user interface, got big updates as well, with a Dock that could be placed on the side of the screen, alongside other options for customization.3

iTunes would be bundled with the OS, as well as support for DVD playback. Finder gained the ability to burn CDs, and a new application named Image Capture made grabbing pictures off of digital cameras a whole lot easier.

(The demo for that didn’t go super well.)

Mac OS X 10.1 would ship in the fall of 2001, as would iDVD 2, also previewed at the show. The big feature was the ability to use video for the background of menus or buttons.

Mac Hardware

Jobs opened the hardware section of the keynote talking about the new iBook G3, which had been introduced on May 1. He reported that the iBook was already a huge hit, both with reviewers and customers, with 182,000 models already sold, overwhelming Apple’s production abilities.

iBook G3

The Titanium PowerBook also got a mention, with Jobs rattling off praise for the machine from the tech press. I liked this quote from Hiawatha Bray from The Boston Globe in particular:

“If you could take just one laptop with you on a desert island, this would be the one.”

Up next was the iMac, with three new models being announced at 500, 600 and 700 MHz. You can read all about these iMacs over here, but the gist is that the new machines were faster and more capable than ever, even as the finishes of Indigo, Graphite and Snow were more mature than the outgoing models.

The “Quicksilver” Power Mac G4 was the next announcement. Personally, I think this is the best looking G4 tower:

G4 towers

(It’s the classy one in the middle.)

This was more than just a fresh coat of polycarbonate. Inside the Power Mac was a nice jump up from the previous model. As with the iMac, Apple had three new models for sale:

733 MHz 867 MHz Dual 800 MHz
RAM: 128 MB 128 MB 256 MB
HDD: 40 GB 60 GB 80 GB
GPU: GeForce2 GeForce2 Dual Display
Optical: CD-RW SuperDrive SuperDrive
Price: $1,699 $2,499 $3,499

The previous generation topped out at 733 MHz, and the SuperDrive had been only available in the most expensive model.

(Years later, the Dual 800 MHz Quicksilver would be the center of a small storm when it came to Mac OS X Leopard’s system requirements, which stated a 867 MHz G4 or faster was required. Customers with a Dual 800 MHz machine were stuck on OS X Tiger, or forced to look for ways to trick Leopard’s installer.)

After it was announced, the new G4 was pitted against an Intel Pentium that was clocked much higher. As was the case in all of these shootout segments, Apple showed the PowerPC was competitive with the best Intel had to offer, despite what the numbers on the box may have suggested. This time, Jon Rubinstein got roped into things to explain why the G4 was better than what else was on the market.

After reminding the crowd of Apple’s display lineup for these new towers, a promotional video for the new G4 played:

Wrapping Up

Macworld New York 2001 wasn’t the most impactful event of 2001, but I was surprised to see just how much Apple managed to announce so close to that year’s WWDC. 2001 really was a busy year.

  1. It’s now been 7,421 days, in case you were wondering. 
  2. Quark was on the list as well, but the first version of QuarkXPress that would support Mac OS wouldn’t ship until 2003, much to the disappoint of the high school version of yours truly. 
  3. If you haven’t seen screenshots of it, I’ve got you covered. 

2001 Revisited: G4 Cube ‘Put on Ice’

In my series 2001 Revisited, I’m covering Apple’s major announcements from 20 years ago. It’s now July, which means we get to talk about what may be the most unusual press release in Apple’s modern history:

Apple today announced that it will suspend production of the Power Mac G4 Cube indefinitely. The company said there is a small chance it will reintroduce an upgraded model of the unique computer in the future, but that there are no plans to do so at this time.

“Cube owners love their Cubes, but most customers decided to buy our powerful Power Mac G4 minitowers instead,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

The Power Mac G4 Cube, at less than one fourth the size of most PCs, represented an entirely new class of computer delivering high performance in an eight-inch cube suspended in a stunning crystal-clear enclosure.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Cube was Steve Jobs’ baby. When it was announced just a year earlier, he could barely contain himself.

I get it. I love my Cube. It looks incredible and It is so much fun to flip it over and pull the guts out.

Power Mac G4 Cube

At the same time, I see why it didn’t really take off. Not only was the Power Mac G4 more powerful and more expandable, but it started at $200 less than the Cube. It could also be specced way higher than the Cube from the factory, giving power users access to dual 500 MHz G4s.

In February of 2001, Apple tried to address this, dropping the entry price of the Cube and adding support for CD-RW drives.

In the end, it just wasn’t enough to make the Cube viable. It was doomed to go down in Apple history as one of the most prominent flops the company had until maybe the 2013 Mac Pro — which was another small-for-no-real-reason-other-than-it-was-cool computer for professional users.

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. 

2001 Revisited: The Apple Store Opens for Business

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

It’s hard to imagine the Apple of 2021 without its huge retail footprint, but the first Apple Stores opened just 20 years ago.

Let’s jump right to the press release:

Apple today announced that it will open 25 retail stores across the U.S. in 2001, with the first two stores opening this Saturday, May 19, at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, and the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California.

“The Apple stores offer an amazing new way to buy a computer,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Rather than just hear about megahertz and megabytes, customers can now learn and experience the things they can actually do with a computer, like make movies, burn custom music CDs, and publish their digital photos on a personal website.”

Knowledgeable salespeople will be able to demonstrate Macs® running innovative applications like iTunes and iMovie™, as well as Mac® OS X, Apple’s revolutionary new operating system. All of the Macs are connected to the Internet, and several are connected to digital lifestyle products that complement the Mac experience, such as digital cameras, digital camcorders, MP3 players, and handheld organizers.

On its website, the company went into more detail about why the Apple Store was such an important step:

Apple currently has around 5% market share in personal computers. This means that out of one hundred computer users, five of them use Macs. While that may not sound like a lot, it is actually higher than both BMW’s and Mercedes-Benz’s share of the automotive market. And it equals 25 million customers around the world using Macs.

But that’s not enough for us. We want to convince those other 95 people that Macintosh offers a much simpler, richer and more human-centric computing experience. And we believe the best way to do this is to open Apple stores right in their neighborhoods. Stores that let people experience firsthand what it’s like to make a movie right on a Mac. Or burn a CD with their favorite music. Or take pictures with a digital camera and publish them on their personal website. Or select from over 300 software titles, including some of the best educational titles for kids. Or talk to a Macintosh “genius” at our Genius Bar. Or watch a demonstration of Mac OS X, our revolutionary new operating system, on our theater’s giant 10-foot diagonal screen.

Because if only 5 of those remaining 95 people switch to Macs, we’ll double our market share and, more importantly, earn the chance to delight another 25 million customers.

This was also used for full-page newspaper ads in areas that were home to new stores.

In this video, Steve Jobs gives a tour of what Apple came up with to lure Windows customers in:

That initial store design and layout spread across a bunch of different locations, including my own Saddle Creek store, where I was hired as a temporary salesperson for the holiday rush of 2006, before becoming a Mac Genius for a couple of years. Saddle Creek has since moved to a newer section of its shopping center and ushered in a new design for the stores.

The history of the Apple Store is an interesting one. For years, Ron Johnson was at the heart of it. In 2018, he did an interview on the now-defunct “Without Fail” podcast telling some pretty wild stories from those early days of Apple retail.

For a decade, the changes Apple has made to its stores were faithfully chronicled at ifoAppleStore, until its founder Gary Allen passed away in 2015. Today, folks like Michael Steeber faithfully report on the Apple stores.

From the very first store openings to dealing with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Apple store is how millions of people interact with Apple. It’s a bit cringe-worthy when Apple says that the stores are meeting places and town halls, but for many fans of the company and its products, there’s something special about them, even as they’ve changed and grown over the last 20 years.

2001 Revisited: The iBook Settles Down

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

On May 1, 2001, Steve Jobs unveiled an all-new iBook, and the new notebook was a huge departure from what came before it.

This came at a special on-campus event1 at Infinite Loop, and a somewhat-janky video of the event is still online:

This event came just a few months after the launch of the Titanium PowerBook G4, and Apple’s notebook game had never been stronger. In fact, Jobs announced that notebooks accounted for nearly 30% of the company’s Mac sales, up from less than 20% just a year before.

Redefining the iBook

The all-new iBook was a huge departure from the “Clamshell” design that came before it:

iBook G3 changes

Gone were the swooping edges and vibrant colors of the original iBook; this new iBook G3 was far more conservative in design, being dressed in all white.

The top and bottom parts of this enclosure were actually made of clear plastic that had white paint applied to the inside, giving it a slightly frosted look, earning it the nickname “IceBook.” This design lent itself to some … interesting modifications made by some users.

The new iBook was 4.9 pounds, a huge reduction from the 6.7 pound Clamshell. It was also some 35% thinner. As Jobs was quick to point out, this made the iBook the thinnest and lightest notebook in its class.

This was made possible by Apple ditching the large rubber-injected molding that gave the original iBook its rugged nature.

That said, Jobs insisted that the new machine would still hold up to the demands of being used in the home and in schools, saying it proved to be “twice as durable” in Apple’s internal testing. The hard drive was rubber-mounted to absorb shocks and the magnesium frame was meant to be strong and light, but as many Apple techs from back in the day will tell you, it wasn’t uncommon to see iBooks with broken frames come in for repair.

iBook G3 display

The display was still a 12-inch LCD, but now running at 1024×768, an upgrade from the old 800×600 panel. The additional space made running Mac OS X much more comfortable, and matched the number of pixels on the iMac G3.

The screen rotated down and away from the keyboard on a new hinge that was markedly better than anything Apple had shipped on a notebook before. I honestly think the hinge feel holds up today, two decades later.

iBook G3 hinge

The I/O on the new machine was also an upgrade from before, with an additional USB port joining the single port on the Clamshell. It joined the power, FireWire, Ethernet, modem, mini-VGA and the combo audio/composite video ports, all along the left side of the machine.

Inside, the iBook had been improved as well. The Clamshell topped out 466 MHz, but the new iBook was clocked at 500 MHz and could be equipped with up to 640 MB of RAM. The display was powered by the ATI Rage Mobility 128 GPU 8 MB of video memory, which was the same as the FireWire-equipped Clamshell models.

The laptop could be outfitted with one of four optical drives:

  • CD-ROM player
  • DVD-ROM player
  • CD-RW burner
  • Combo (DVD-ROM + CD-RW burner)

Prices ranged from $1,299 to $1,799 — $200 less than the Clamshell:

iBook G3 prices

Regardless of price, the iBook came with a 10 GB hard drive, something Apple would improve drastically later in 2001 when it revised the machine for the first time.

In its press release about the new laptop, Apple was quick to praise it:

“The new iBook is wonderfully small and light, and packs in all the amazing features you’d expect from Apple,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With iMovie, iTunes and iTools, the new iBook builds on the incredible success of the original iBook and is designed to fit today’s digital lifestyle.”

Every iBook is powered by 500 MHz PowerPC G3 processors, and offer up to twice the onboard memory, twice the memory expansion, and twice the storage than previous models. iBook’s new stunning design is almost two pounds lighter and twice as durable than previous models, and small enough to easily fit into any backpack or computer bag. Made for students and consumers alike, iBook’s streamlined impact resistant polycarbonate enclosure has no doors protruding, latches or levers to break or accidentally catch.

I encourage you to watch the video, but I love how the whole thing is announced. Jobs talked about the specs for over ten minutes, before ever showing off the iBook’s new design. He holds it up compared to a Dell, making fun of the PC’s design and features before Apple employees passed iBooks down the rows of journalists in the audience. As they looked at the machines, Jobs answered a couple of questions about the notebook, and he shared that the notebook did have a fan, and that the only color it came in was white.


After announcing and showing off the new iBook, Jobs demoed it for the audience, showing iTunes, iMovie, and the DVD Player all running on the 12-inch machine. Despite its size, Apple wanted people to see the iBook as worth of being part of the company’s Digital Hub strategy.

After that, Jobs spoke about the importance of education to Apple, leaning on its history with schools going back to the Apple II. However, he then spoke about dedicated computer labs and how the idea of moving student into a room full of computers was an outdated idea. With wireless notebooks, computers could come to the students, he said, showing off a cart full of iBooks on the screen behind him. Apple was the number one computer company in education, he said, and Apple planned on keeping that title. In fact, the iBook could be bought starting at $1,199.

Jobs then announced a huge deal with Henrico County Public Schools in Richmond Virginia, with 23,000 notebooks making it the largest portable computer order in education to that point. Every middle school student, high schooler and teacher in the district would have their own iBook G3.

Apple shared more about this in a press release:

“This is the mammoth–the single largest sale of portable computers in education ever,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Apple is thrilled to partner with Henrico County Public Schools in their revolutionary initiative because when every student and teacher has access to wirelessly-networked mobile computing, learning reaches far beyond the classroom.”

“Students, teachers, parents and the community will now have the best technology tools in the world at their fingertips every day,” said Dr. Mark Edwards, superintendent of Henrico County Public Schools. “We chose Apple’s iBook because our experience has shown that it costs significantly more to support other platforms. Apple’s iBook is the best product available to meet our instructional needs.”

When these machines were sold off by the school district four years later, all hell broke loose in Richmond.


This new design would stay with the iBook until its demise at the Intel transition five years after this announcement, with some changes. The clear-but-painted exterior would be swapped for white plastic panels, and the nasty smell would be resolved with a keyboard revision as well.

A 14-inch version would show up as well, but neither would survive the introduction of the MacBook in 2006. While that machine is well-loved by many, the IceBook was an important step in the Mac’s shift to being a primarily mobile platform.

  1. Before getting to the iBook news, Jobs announced that Apple was shipping the second software update for Mac OS X 10.0 over the Internet. It included support for burning CDs. 

‘An Act of Desperation’ →

Jason Snell at Macworld:

So when we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mac OS X, it’s important to realize what we’re celebrating. We’re celebrating a software release that was the culmination of Steve Jobs’s return to Apple. We’re celebrating the operating system we still use, two decades later. But we’re also celebrating the foundation of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

In that way, this isn’t just the 20th anniversary of Mac OS X 10.0. It’s the 20th anniversary of modern Apple, and the end of the dark days when Apple couldn’t fix its own operating system.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it here: Apple buying NeXT was the most important tech acquisition of all time.

Twenty Years Ago Today, Apple Shipped Mac OS X

It’s hard to believe that Mac OS X macOS is two decades old, but it’s true. On March 24, 2001, Apple released the first non-beta version of Mac OS X 10.0:

Mac OS X 10.0

The release followed years of development that took NeXT’s technology and molded it into an operating system for the Mac. That process took longer than Apple had predicted, and included a false start known as Rhapsody. That’s really a story for a different time, but in short, that operating system strategy left classic Mac OS developers without a way forward for their applications that didn’t require rewriting them, and the community soundly rejected the entire thing.

After a regroup, OS X began to take shape, with a new technology named Carbon that would allow apps written for the Mac to run natively on the new operating system with some tweaks. I truly believe Carbon is the real hero of the OS X transition, as without it, I don’t think it would have been successful.1

However, Aqua grabbed all the attention. First introduced in Developer Preview 3, this new user interface was shockingly different from Platinum in Mac OS. Full of pinstripes and bright blue elements, Aqua was designed to be as friendly and fun as the colorful iMac G3s with which many users would first experience it.

All of that eye candy came at a cost, though. Performance in the early versions of Mac OS X was notoriously bad as the hardware caught up. By the time most users were ready to switch from Mac OS 8 or 9, OS X was in pretty decent shape.

If you want to learn more about Mac OS X, I’ve rounded up some links for you:

  1. Both Rhapsody and Mac OS X included an environment for running Mac OS apps directly, but these “Classic” programs wouldn’t get any of the benefits promised by the new operating system, including preemptive multitasking, protected memory or an update user interface. 

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. 

2001 Revisited: Macworld San Francisco

In my series 2001 Revisited, I’m covering Apple’s major announcements from 20 years ago. This month, we’re looking at Macworld San Francisco.

To kick off what would be a very busy year, Steve Jobs took to the Macworld stage in San Francisco, boasting that in addition to the 5,000 people in attendance, tens of thousands of people were watching via livestream around the world via QuickTime.

Mac OS X

Jobs started by talking about Mac OS X, recapping the new operating system’s architecture, from the kernel on up all the way to the new UI, dubbed Aqua.

Mac OS X Architecture

I ripped this graphic out of my book about the iMac G3 and the roots of Mac OS X. You should check it out.

He praised the Mac OS X Public Beta, which had on sale since September 2000. Some 100,000 people had purchased it, providing 75,000 feedback submissions.1

After thanking the community for their feedback and involvement, he outlined some common themes in the reports. The first was positive feedback, naturally:

  • “Far more stable”
  • “Aqua is incredible”
  • “Super easy to install”
  • “Classic really works”
  • “Mac + Unix is nirvana”

Then he tackled a list of features missing from the public beta:

  • AirPort support
  • Printing
  • Location manager
  • Dynamic network settings
  • PPP over Ethernet

After revealing that those features were all in the current build of the OS, Jobs shared some concerns they had been hearing from users:

  • The Apple menu was terrible
  • The lack of a clock in the Menu Bar
  • Disks and Trash on Desktop
  • No Control Strip
  • Toolbars were too big

The placement of the Apple logo in the Public Beta was centered in the menu bar, which was ridiculous:

Mac OS X Public Beta

To make matters worse, it was just a logo without any menu items, forgoing one of Mac OS’ more useful UI features.

Thankfully, Apple put it back in the correct place on the left and made it an actual menu again for system-level controls such as Sleep, Restart and Shutdown.

(In the classic Mac OS, these were under the Special menu, and were only available when in the Finder, which was a bit odd.)

To this, Apple added a list of recent items and a way to switch network locations without taking a trip to System Preferences. It wasn’t as flexible as the old Apple menu, but it was a big improvement over the beta.

Toolbars in Finder and other apps were made smaller and customizable, so users could put their own favorite commands and shortcuts where they wanted them. Finder also picked up the ability to spawn a new window for every folder and sub-folder moved through on a user’s way to their desired destination. While this may have looked like the classic Mac OS’ way of doing things, it missed the mark, according to John Siracusa:

The Mac OS X Finder needs a lot of work before it can fill the shoes of its predecessor. The addition of many useful and powerful features to the Mac OS experience (column view, browser mode, the toolbar, bundle manipulation, file mapping, and built-in network integration) does not outweigh the significant problems. Missing features, mis-features, and bugs render the new Finder unable to reproduce the spatial file manipulation environment that has been the defining characteristic of the Macintosh experience since 1984.

Speaking of features from Mac OS, the Control Strip wasn’t reintroduced, but its easy access to settings was shoved into “Docklets,” or icons in the Dock that managed these settings but didn’t launch applications.2 They were weird.

In the early days of Mac OS X, there were a handful of these, including:

  • Monitors: Manage screen resolution and color depth
  • Battery Monitor: Shows remaining battery levels on notebooks
  • Signal Strength: Displays the connection strength for a Wi-FI network
  • iTunes Dockling: Controls iTunes
  • Folders: Any folder put in the Dock by a user would show a pop-up of its content when clicked, just like today.

Mercifully, Docklets were killed off with Mac OS X 10.1 Puma, but that’s an operating system update for a different time.


After discussing Mac OS X itself, Jobs walked through the Carbon and Cocoa application environments. As a recap, early versions of Mac OS X could run classic apps inside a virtual OS 9 machine and apps that had been “carbonized” to run natively on OS X, accessing new features like protected memory and the updated user interface.

Lastly, there was Cocoa, which had its roots in NeXTSTEP, not Mac OS. This was to be a new generation of Mac applications, written in Objective-C.

Jobs boasted that some 400 developers had committed to Mac OS X, accounting for more than 1,200 software titles. While they would not all be out on day one, Jobs pitched a bright future, full of software for Apple’s new operating system.

After a demonstration of Maya on the new OS, the keynote turned to the schedule. Jobs announced that Mac OS X would go one sale on March 24, 2001 for $129. Starting in July, Mac OS X would be the bundled, default OS on new Apple hardware, Jobs said. He closed out this section saying:

We know that Mac OS X is really laying the foundation for the next decade to decade and a half of our software efforts. We think we’ve got something really, really good here. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Power Mac G4 Update

After thirty minutes of software talk, the keynote turned to hardware, starting with a new generation of Power Mac G4 towers. The last machines to use the original industrial design, these are known as the “Digital Audio” G4s.

Power Mac G4

The name came from the included built-in amplifier, which could be used with Apple’s USB Pro Speakers, also announced at Macworld 2001.

Jobs said the theme for this new generation of G4 was “Power to Burn,” before acknowledging that the Power Mac had topped out at 500 MHz a year and a half before this. These new machines could be ordered with up to a 733 MHz G4, delivering 5.5 gigaflops of computing power.

The new line was broken down into four models, as detailed in this archived tech spec sheet on Apple’s website.

The processors in the four machines were clocked at 466 MHz, 533 MHz, 667 MHz and 773 MHz.3 The 533 could be custom ordered as a dual-processor system. The slower two machines used the PowerPC 7410 CPU, but the two faster models were built around the PPC 7450, complete with an on-chip 256 KB L2 Cache.

All four had that new digital amp, Gigabit Ethernet, five expansion slots, CD-RW drives, a faster 133 MHz system bus and AGP graphics with NVIDIA cards in the top three models.

Prices ranges from $1699 to $3499. That most expensive model came with a SuperDrive, which Jobs said was an industry first. It could read and write both CDs and DVDs. Those DVDs could be then played on a consumer DVD player. It was a big deal, as Jobs joked: The new G4 could burn CDs, DVDs and Pentiums.

This launched into one of many races Apple would hold between their slower-clocked PowerPC Macs and Windows machines running faster-on-paper Intel CPUs. This time, Phil Schiller came out to show that a 733 MHz Power Mac G4 could run circles around the new 1.5 GHz Pentium 4, at least in Photoshop 6.

The 466 and 533 MHz models were on sale immediately, with the faster SKUs coming the next month.

To make burning CDs on Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X easier, Jobs showed that Finder had been updated to treat blank optical media as a folder. A user could drag files and folders to it, then tell the system to burn the disc when they were ready.

Power Mac Accessories

I’ve already mentioned the Pro Speakers that Apple announced with these machines. Designed in conjunction with Harman/Kardon, they were clear spherical speakers, each roughly the size of the HomePod mini. They sold for $59 a set.

Then, Jobs showed the company’s 15-inch Studio Display, a smaller, less-expensive sibling to the 22-inch variant pictured above with the Power Mac. It used Apple Display Connector (ADC) for power, video and USB all over one cable. It had been for sale at $999, but got a price cut here to $799.

15-inch Studio Display

The Digital Hub.

Jobs opened the next section, referencing the downturn in the PC industry. While some were closing up shop on the personal computer, Jobs said Apple saw things differently. The PC wasn’t dying; it was evolving. He laid out his interpretation of the personal computer industry’s history:

  • 1980-1994: The first Golden Age, thanks to productivity tools like word processors, spreadsheets and digital publishing applications.
  • 1995-2000: The second Golden Age, thanks to the rise of the Internet. It added to the productivity tools, making the personal computer more valuable than ever.

Jobs then said the PC industry was about to enter its third great era — the age of the Digital Lifestyle.

Here’s how he laid out this vision:

We are living in a new digital lifestyle with an explosion of digital devices. It’s huge. And we believe the PC, or more importantly the Mac, can become the digital hub of our new emerging digital lifestyle, with the ability to add tremendous value to these other digital devices.

I wrote about the advent and evolution of the Digital Hub over on iMore if you want to read more. Needless to say, Jobs’ words were prophetic and over the subsequent years, Apple would flesh out this vision with products like the iPod for mobile music listening and iPhoto for managing digital photos.

The news at Macworld 2001 was all about digital music. He explained how MP3s worked, and how this was a revolution already underway. In fact, in 2000 alone, 320 million blank CD-Rs had been sold in the United States, and portable MP3 players were becoming popular.4

Jobs walked the crowd through the current music applications and showed how they were just too complex to use, and often came with restrictions on encoding and burning unless the user paid up.

Enter iTunes.


While it’s hard to believe given what would happen to iTunes over the next two decades, but this version of the product was clean and simple.5 Users could import CDs, organize their music into playlists and then burn those playlists onto CD-Rs to take with them. It even had a visualizer and a hip design.


After talking about iTunes, Jobs changed gears to talk about the explosion of DVD usage in households and businesses around the world. The dream, he said, was to make your own DVDs, with your own movies on them — and play them on consumer-grade DVD players.

iMovie, which had been around since 1999 let uses edit home video, but that’s as far as it went. By 2001, Apple was ready, thanks to the SuperDrive to burn the discs, and the power of the Power Mac G4’s Velocity Engine to encode the data in software at just 2x real time, a huge increase from the 25x real time that was required before this breakthrough.

This was all building to iDVD, a new application for laying out DVDs with menus.


Jobs demoed the new title on one of the just-announced Power Mac G4s running Mac OS 9. He quickly added titles, menus and the media for playback, thanks to iDVD’s built-in collection of themes, templates and layout tools.6

In just a few short years, this technology would show up in cheaper desktop and even notebooks, but this was a big deal, and along with iTunes and iMovie, formed the foundation that would later become iLife, complete with iPhoto and even later, iWeb.

Titanium PowerBook

While the Power Mac G4 was great, the real hardware star of this event was my all-time favorite Apple notebook: the Titanium PowerBook G4. It was Job’s One More Thing, after 90 minutes on stage.

Titanium PowerBook G4

I’ve covered this machine a lot over the years, but in short, it was a huge departure from the PowerBook G3 series of machines. It was thin and made of metal, and brought the G4 to a notebook for the first time, with either a 400 or 500 MHz G4 in a chassis that was just one inch thick, weighing 5.2 pounds. It boasted a 15.2-inch widescreen display and slot-loading optical drive, all housed in a Titanium chassis.

Apple was very proud of this machine, as you can tell from the press release:

“The all new Titanium PowerBook G4 is the most revolutionary portable computer ever created,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Its a supercomputer to go’ in terms of performance, yet it’s thinner and sexier than the best subnotebooks.”

As it would turn out, this would be a short-lived design, as it had rather weak hinges and the paint used on parts of the case would often chip and flake off, making the expensive laptop look like a beater.

To learn more about this machine, I recommend this article on iMore and Jason Snell’s recent coverage of the machine on Six Colors and in the 20 Macs for 2020 podcast feed.

…and of course my video on the machine from a few years ago:

In Conclusion

This Macworld keynote is jam-packed with stuff that would really change Apple’s trajectory for years to come. Mac OS X would spin off other operating systems to power things from the iPhone to the Apple Watch. iTunes has since been replaced,7 but music is still near and dear to Apple. Most people haven’t thought about iDVD in years, but we all use Apple devices to shoot and share video. And, of course, Apple is still in the business of making fast and capable Macs.

  1. Jobs joked that some of these feedback submissions were quite long. I assume at least one of them was about a spatial Finder. 
  2. Jobs didn’t show these off on stage, but I wanted to include them here for the sake of completeness. 
  3. I believe Apple’s tech spec page for these machines has an error on it. The keynote video includes a 667 MHz G4, but it’s not listed here. Instead, Apple published that machine as having a 773 MHz processor. 
  4. Remember, this is some ten months before the iPod was introduced. 
  5. For an interesting look at a little-known story about the birth of iTunes, spend some time reading Cabel Sasser’s post about Audion, Panic’s super-dead MP3 player for the Mac. 
  6. There was also a professional-grade DVD authoring program announced named DVD Studio Pro, designed to work perfectly with Final Cut Pro, which Apple had purchased from Macromedia in 1998. 
  7. Unless you’re on Windows.