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10 years ago today: Remembering Steve Jobs make iPhone history

We all knew it was coming.

Reporters, analysts and industry insiders had been speculating about Apple making a phone for nearly a year by the time Steve Jobs walked onto the Macworld Expo stage that cold January morning in San Francisco.

"Thank you for coming," he said, wearing his trademark Levi's and black mock turtleneck. "We're going to make some history together today."
Apple's Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, calling it a "revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone."
Photo by Apple
Despite the months-long buildup, Apple's CEO managed to surprise the world when he finally unveiled the iPhone -- the company's big, risky move into the mobile phone market.

"This is a day I've been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years," he told the audience of 4,000 people.

"Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything ... One is very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career. Apple's been very fortunate. It's been able to introduce a few of these into the world.

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"In 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It didn't just change Apple. It changed the whole computer industry.

"In 2001, we introduced the first iPod and it didn't just change the way we listened to music. It changed the entire music industry. Well today we're introducing three revolutionary products of this class.

"The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls," Jobs said to whoops and cheers while I -- sitting on the floor near one of the rare power outlets in the hall -- furiously sent out Jobs' remarks in 83-character, all cap headlines for Bloomberg News, where I worked as the Apple reporter.

"The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device. So three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.

"An iPod, a phone and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone -- are you getting it?" he asked the audience.

"These are not separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone.

"Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone ... We want to make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been and super easy to use."

Ten years later, we know Jobs was right. Apple did make history on Jan. 9, 2007, when it unveiled one of the most iconic products in consumer electronics history. It's since become the phone of choice for hundreds of millions of people around the world. It redrew mobile phone design and changed the entire phone industry. And it pretty much led to the end of standalone music players, GPS receivers and low-end to midrange digital cameras.

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Master showman
People always lined up for days outside San Francisco's Moscone Center to make sure they'd get a seat for the Macworld keynote. And while they camped out on Howard Street, they'd see the press, analysts and other VIPs escorted into Moscone West, where we waited on the top floor of the conference center.

Back then, Apple didn't open the doors to the hall until 10 minutes before the event started, guaranteeing a frenzied horde of people scrambling for prime spots. By my guess, it takes just two minutes for 4,000 people to run into a conference hall and grab a seat. Let's just say Jobs already had a pretty receptive audience.

And he certainly knew how to play a room.

A master showman, Jobs kept the crowd of reporters, analysts, developers and Apple fans in a state of anticipation and wonder throughout the nearly two-hour keynote.

He talked first about the move to Intel chips in Macs the year before, saying Mac sales proved the change over to the new architecture was a success. And he welcomed the loads of "switchers," who'd jettisoned Windows-based PCs for Macs.

He touted the iPod, introduced more than five years earlier, calling it the world's most popular music player and the world's most popular video player. He got huge laughs from the crowd after cracking a joke about the mediocre launch of Microsoft's rival Zune player two months before. He played the latest iPod TV ad featuring neon-colored silhouettes of dancers rocking out to "Flathead," by indie Glasgow band The Fratellis.

Oh, and he officially introduced Apple TV.

And all the while I sat on the floor and typed out a steady stream of short, all-cap headlines -- a kind of primeval Twitter story. By the time Jobs reached the crux of his presentation, my headline only needed 19 characters: "Apple unveils phone." He'd been on stage for 20 minutes.

The stock chart for Apple looked like a hockey stick just seconds after the news was out.

Aha moment
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