How Apple marketing changed everything – and me – at the Flint Center in 1998

Quite a few readers asked me to share a bit more about how my last trip to the Flint Center changed my life (as I referenced in last week’s post) so this post is about how Apple Marketing changed everything.  Before iPod, iPhone, iPad, iWatch, that last trip to the Flint Center changed my life.

Funny, I’m not really sure what compelled me to walk over to the Flint Center at DeAnza College in Cupertino that day in 1998.  I remember being very busy but somehow I knew I had to be there.

This was the day that Apple Computer, Inc. was going to introduce a secret new computer to the world. The press were waiting outside in the early morning California sunshine with their personal passes to a “Very Special Event” in hand. Inside, Steve Jobs was walking through his final rehearsal on the very same stage he introduced the original Mac in 1984. Today was Steve’s first product introduction since coming back to the company he founded and subsequently pushed out of by John Sculley and the Apple board of directors in 1987.

The Think Different posters of Lucille Ball and Pablo Picasso were looming large in the back of the hall. Elvis was playing softly on the sound system. The company was running on fumes. The stage was literally set for a remarkable day.

Somehow I convinced one of the folks responsible for the Apple special event to let me help and they made me a special badge I gladly hung around my neck. I trotted off to see what I could do as one of the few allowed to get this close this early. I tried getting into the hall while Steve was still rehearsing but found all the doors locked. I noticed a satellite truck outside connected via large cables to the television cameras inside. Somewhere someone was shouting about parking and reminding others to check for passes. I heard the building would be filled to capacity. The excitement was palpable and mysterious.

I sauntered outside to the rear doors where I could see and hear the foreign press corps gathering.


That blue arrow points to me, in the blue shirt.

At first glance I estimated more than one hundred reporters and cameramen all jockeying their equipment and bodies into the best position to enter the building. Technicians were checking and rechecking their equipment and battery and sound levels. I headed over to the action. As soon as I arrived my newly printed pass with a large Apple logo and the single word “Steve” caused cameras and microphones to be thrust in my face. “What are we going to see today?” “Have you seen it?” and “Are you Steve Jobs?” where just a few of the questions I tried to deal with. Truth was, I did know what they were going to see and I had seen it, or at least Styrofoam models of it. And while I’m not Steve Jobs, I did work for him – but that’s another story.

Later this week, I’ll tell you what I learned inside Flint Center those sweet sixteen years ago. Perhaps we will look back at September 9, 2014 as a day that changed our lives…again.

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