The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is technically celebrating its 40th birthday in August – but it’s not always been known by the same name. In fact, it’s had four different names in its lifetime. It has a long and interesting history.
As we gear up for this year’s WWDC, we’ll take you through the noteworthy moments of the past four decades.
In the beginning, the now-called WWDC was named the “Apple Independent Software Developers Conference”. Over the years, it’s gone by “Apple II Forever”, “Apple World Conference”, and the “Apple Developers Conference (DevCon)”. The latter lasted the longest, from 1987 to 1989, with four events in total (two in 1988 – perhaps to make up for 1985, the only year ever not to have an event).
Those attending the first 1983 event had to sign an NDA – so naturally, we don’t know much about it! However, we’re aware that participants had an exclusive look at Lisa (the world’s first PC with a graphical interface). The following year, the event opened to the media, and the famous Macintosh was introduced. Plus, they introduced an entertainment aspect with a performance from Herbie Hancock.
Becoming the Apple World Conference in 1986, it levelled up with industry experts (like Steward Alsop II) leading talks and hundreds of exhibitors selling Apple II and Macintosh-related products.
The move to WWDC saw many notable moments. For instance, in 1991, there was the first ever public demonstration of the now discontinued – but much-loved – QuickTime.
Many might argue that things didn’t get interesting until 1997, which was a real turning point for Apple. WWDC 1997 coincided with Steve Jobs’ return as a consultant, and it was more of a fireside Q&A session than a showcase of new products. In fact, Jobs abandoned more products than he launched.
However, this event proved to be an instrumental step in helping Apple resolve the difficulties it had been struggling with – and accelerating the company to today’s success.
Following Apple’s revival, WWDC became a bigger and better event. Key moments in the 2000s:
- 2002: There was a mock funeral for Mac OS 9 as a way of ceasing the Classic Mac OS, with efforts placed on Mac OS X instead. This was also the year that the conference became a launchpad for new products.
- 2003: Apple announced Safari 1.0 and iApps (like iPhoto and iMovie) and they screened Finding Nemo before the cinema premiere.
- 2005: Jobs revealed Mac machines would transition from PowerPC to Intel processors – something they’d interestingly do a U-turn on 15 years later.
- 2006: The Mac Pro was unveiled, replacing the Power Mac G5.
- 2007: Apple announced support for third-party development of the iPhone, which was, back then, an upcoming device.
- 2008: The first ever sold-out conference, marking the distinction in its offering, with three tracks for developers: iPhone, Mac, or IT. They also revealed the AppStore.
- 2009: Launching new 13-inch MacBook Pros, with updates to the 15- and 17-inch machines.
We entered the scene and Apple gave us plenty to talk about:
- 2010: Announcing the FaceTime app.
- 2011: Introduced iCloud – and notably the final conference hosted by Jobs before his death in October.
- 2012: The first conference hosted by new CEO Tim Cook, launching fresh models of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
- 2013: Apple introduced the new Mac Pro (now known as the ‘trash can’ due to its look – and many failings).
- 2015: The event debuted Apple Music and Apple News with hardware announcements, like the 10.5” iPad Pro.
- 2017: Revealed the HomePod.
- 2019: Launching the ProDisplay XDR and refreshed Mac Pro (though we’re still waiting on an ARM-based processor version).
The WWDC in 2020 and 2021 were online only due to the pandemic, with the switch to Apple Silicon chips announced in 2020. In 2022, the conference was online again but held an in-person day at Apple Park to give developers and students the chance to watch online events together – with the M2 processor this year’s major announcement.
The future? Leasing
So, that’s the past and present for WWDC. For the future, we expect big things will be happening at Apple – and we’ll always be on-hand via leasing solutions. Contact us today.