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A look back at Steve Jobs' most colorful keynote moments

Jason Snell | June 30, 2016
During a handful of keynote presentations, Jobs... lost his cool a little bit on stage, solidifying them in Apple's keynote hall of fame. Here, Jason Snell remembers two such moments.

On the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the launch of the iPhone, former Apple PR leader Natalie Kerris tweeted (she works at Twitter now, of course she tweeted) a link to a YouTube video collecting angry Steve Jobs keynote moments. What a shot of nostalgia.

Famously, Steve Jobs could really get mad when out of the public eye. On stage he was generally quite genial, but from time to time Steve really would get visibly mad on stage. A few times it was quite memorable.

A camera-throwing highlight

At Macworld Expo New York in the summer of 2001, Jobs and Apple presented a Keynote that won't go down as one of the industry's finest. The highlight-and the part that made the reel of Steve's greatest angry public moments-was the failure of a digital camera. Or as Macworld's Philip Michaels wrote afterward:

"When folks file away Macworld Expo 2001, New York Edition, into their noggins, the lasting image probably won't be Steve Jobs pointing with pride to the new QuickSilver G4 casings or developer after developer taking the stage to sing the praises of Mac OS X. Instead, there's a good chance that the defining moment of the Wednesday keynote could be the sight of an irritated Jobs tossing a digital camera to an unseen assistant after the confounded thing-the camera, that is, and not the assistant-failed to cooperate in a demo of OS X 10.1's new built-in support for digital cameras."

I'd say this has turned out to be accurate. "That time when Steve Jobs threw a digital camera" actually came during a demo of the Image Capture utility, which was added in Mac OS X 10.1. Image Capture is still with us today, and yes, if you attach a digital camera (or plug in the card from a digital camera), you can import media with Image Capture.

Unfortunately, the digital camera didn't turn on. And Steve grew increasingly frustrated, finally tossing it off the stage to OS X product marketing guy Ken Bereskin, who had shouted instructions about how to turn it on at Steve from the front row. Steve later checked in with Bereskin, asking him if he'd gotten it working, only to be told that the camera's batteries had popped out on impact. Image Capture lost its moment in the sun. 

steve jobs camera

Here's Steve, getting ready to throw major shade at Ken Bereskin. And by 'shade,' I mean the camera.

But at least that moment was exciting. The truth is, the 2001 Macworld Expo New York keynote was boring. It's unclear whether Apple intended for there to be more products to show off that ended up not being available at the last minute. (The iPod was a few months away from making its debut.) In those days, one of Apple's largest challenges was getting the existing Mac user base fired up about OS X. Version 10.0 was slow and not really ready for primetime, but OS X 10.1 promised to be a lot better. (I declared it the "good to go" edition when it shipped in September.) A lot of keynote space was devoted to demos of various apps-Office 10, Warcraft III, InDesign-running on OS X.

 

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