Fourteen years ago Steve Jobs launched the iPod, and everything changed for Apple
If you want to point to a single device which saved Apple, the iPod is it.
In order to grow, Apple needed something other than the Mac. The full story of how the iPod came to be developed is told brilliantly in Steven Levy's book The Perfect Thing, but in essence it was a combination of Jobs realising that FireWire – an Apple technology which had languished in the labs for ages – and a tiny hard drive from Toshiba could be the foundation for a device the size of a pack of cards but capable of holding 1,000 songs.
The event itself was relatively low-key compared to the enormous launches of today. The European launch, held a few days later, was even smaller, with perhaps 30 journalists in attendance. Although Apple had done well enough with the translucent iMac to no longer be a few days from bankruptcy, the Mac remained an irrelevance compared to the juggernaut of Windows PCs. It was a measure of the constraints that Apple PR was working under at the time that we were told there were five loan review units available… for the whole of Europe.
It's worth watching the event itself – both for Jobs' perfect delivery and for the low-key and slightly subdued nature of the pitch of the device.
And as a special bonus, there was this classic reaction...