WWDC was first held in Monterey, California in 1983. This small gathering of developers has blossomed into one of the major annual events for Apple’s extended community of vendors, engineers and enterprise/academic IT management.
In addition to the ‘meat’ of the event (technical sessions covering hundreds of topics for developers, code labs and face time with Apple engineering staff), WWDC has become an opportunity for Apple to announce new versions of Mac OS X, new hardware and new versions of iOS. The event has grown in importance as Apple has eliminated or scaled back its participation in trade shows like Macworld Expo.
Read on for the best of WWDC Past: a funeral for an operating system, a spoof of Steve Jobs and much applause.
It was ten years ago that Steve Jobs took the stage for WWDC 2001 and enthusiastically talked about the newly-announced Mac OS X. Much to the surprise of developers in attendance, Jobs confirmed Mac OS X would be pre-installed along with OS 9 on all new machines. In another timely move, Apple also discontinued its 17-inch CRT product and introduced a new 17-inch flat panel for $999.
Jobs proudly highlighted the new Apple retail stores which exploded onto the scene earlier that year. The two stores reportedly attracted 7,700 customers and generated $600,000 worth of sales in the the first weekend of operation.
WWDC 2002 announced the end of Mac OS 9 with a funeral and eulogy for the legacy OS. Apple confirmed over one million users had adopted Mac OS X and this number was expected to increase to five million by the end of the year. The major topic of this WWDC was, as you would expect, Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar (depending on how you pronounce it, “Jagwire,” “Jag-u-oar” or “Jackwar”).
WWDC 2003 was packed full of new product announcements. Jobs showed off Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, introduced Xcode for Jaguar and Panther, released the iSight camera and demonstrated the Power Mac G5. The base G5 model debuted for $1999 and included a 1.6 GHz G5 processor created jointly by IBM and Apple. Jobs joked that Apple committed “premature specification” when it accidentally released the specs for this upcoming Power Mac G5 a bit too early on its website.
WWDC 2004 saw the introduction of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and three new aluminum-clad displays. The new Cinema displays were available in a 20-inch, 23-inch and a whopping 30-inch size which featured a resolution of 2560×1600 resolution. The 30-inch was so large it required a new graphics card to drive it. The 30-inch display retailed for $3200 when it debuted and its companion Nvidia GeForce6800 Ultra graphics card retailed for $599.
The shocker of WWDC 2005 was the transition from the PowerPC to Intel’s x86 processors. Amidst a torrent of rumors, Steve Jobs confirmed that Mac OS X had been living a double life as a cross-platform OS for five years, with the skunkworks ‘Marklar’ project keeping the Intel builds up to date with the mainstream PPC versions. (No, we didn’t believe it either when the rumors began to pile up; we were not alone in being skeptical, and eventually wrong.)
Unbeknownst to Mac users, the Intel-friendly legacy of NeXTStep (plus work done to leverage the core code used in porting QuickTime to the Windows platform, among other factors) made it possible for Mac OS X to jump ship from the Power PC. Jobs challenged developers to write their apps in code that was compatible with both processors to help ease the transition. So far this marriage of Apple and Intel technology has lasted until the present day.
By the time 2006 rolled around, WWDC now had 4,200 attendees from 48 countries. The keynote kicked off with PC himself, actor/author John Hodgman, jokingly telling developers to take the rest of the year off and help finish Microsoft finish Windows Vista. As part of this presentation, Jobs showed off the next version of Mac OS X, 10.5 Leopard, and introduced the Mac Pro line of desktops. The standard Pro model launched with a price of $2499 and included a dual 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 processor, 1 GB RAM, 250 GB drive, Nvidia GeForce 7300GT and a 16x Superdrive. Apple also officially buried the PowerPC Mac as all desktop and laptop models were now Intel-based.
WWDC 2007 was a mixed bag for Apple. It showed off Mac OS X Leopard again as the company missed its original target launch date of late 2006/early 2007. Because of Apple’s focus on the iPhone and iPhone OS, Leopard was pushed off until October 2007. During his keynote, Jobs also introduced the Windows version of Safari and web-based applications for the soon-to-be-released iPhone. The highlight of the show was a humorous video of ‘PC‘ John Hodgman impersonating Steve Jobs. Oh yeah, there was one more thing — the iPhone sale date was confirmed to be June 29, 2007 at 6pm.
The 2008 conference was the first WWDC to sell out before it started, and the keynote was filled with iPhone information. Steve Jobs discussed the revolutionary App Store, the iPhone SDK and the 3G version of the iPhone which would be sold globally. Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was hinted at and MobileMe, for better or for worse, was formally introduced.
WWDC 2009 was a radical change from previous developer conferences. Noticeably absent: Steve Jobs, who was on medical leave. Phil Schiller took the reigns and demoed OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the first version of OS X to drop support for the older PowerPC processors. The 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models were updated and a new 13-inch model MacBook Pro was introduced. The iPhone OS 3 release date was confirmed and the iPhone 3GS was announced. Its was a full show for Mr. Schiller who did an excellent job as a stand-in for Steve Jobs.
WWDC 2010 sold out in eight days even though the cost of the conference had risen to $1600. The iPhone 4 with its A4 chip and the newly branded iOS (formerly iPhone OS) were the highlights of the event. FaceTime for iPhone and a mobile version of iMovie were introduced. iBooks also landed on the iPhone, and details on iAd were presented. Steve Jobs also returned to headline the event.
See more about WWDC 2011 at http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/ and http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/about/