Chatting

How Steve Jobs first reacted to video chat

Steve Jobs didn’t earn his reputation as Silicon Valley’s most charismatic showman by acting coy or keeping quiet. Apple’s history is replete with tales involving anxiety-inducing first encounters with the company’s mercurial CEO, and as a new engineer on a top Apple team, Santamaria was coached on how to act by a colleague before the demo started with Jobs: “Whatever happens, pretend that everything is fine.”

For this demo, the team was split with Jobs in one room and the others occupying three other rooms, as planned in the podcast episode. According to the story, Jobs makes the first call, which Santamaria answers. After some chatter, they connect to a third caller and the screen changes from a simple individual view to a larger and more elaborate 3D group call view. It’s this feature in particular that seems to have impressed Jobs the most.

After the classic “woom” sound, when the interface appeared in 3D view, that’s when Jobs exclaimed, “I’m going to piss off the crowd!” Jobs ended up announces iChat’s group video calling feature at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2004 to several rounds of applause, with the audience’s most enthusiastic reaction occurring at the exact moment Jobs predicted: when iChat expanded into the 3D view (see by yourself at 1:35:00 timestamp). To know if the other part of his prediction came true, well, you should have been there.