Steve Jobs Keynote with Concurrence

Steve Jobs had never used Lighthouse Design's Concurrence when he started to work on his keynote slide show for NeXTWORLD Expo. In the past, he had done all his major keynote presentations using glass slides that required weeks of planning and many thousands of dollars to produce.

Life is different with Concurrence. It gave Steve the flexibility to refine the content and flow of the NeXTWORLD Expo talk continuously, literally until the moment he took the stage.

Design for communication
Steve started working on the slide show about a week before the event. The system engineers who were pulling his demos together, including myself, were working in a room across the street from his office at NeXT. We had set up the big servers that he would be using on stage (Teradata, Sequent, and Pyramid) and a number of NeXTstation Turbo Color systems. Steve sat wedged between the Teradata and the Sequent as he created his slide show.

Steve wanted to cover four key areas in his NeXTWORLD Expo keynote presentation: "1991 Review," "What We Learned in 1991," "NeXTSTEP 3.0," and "New NeXTSTEP Hardware for 1992." Because switching between slides and demos can ruin a presentation's impact, Steve planned to cover the first three parts on slides, then demo NeXT-STEP 3.0, present some more slides on the new hardware, demo NeXT-STEP '486, and finally show a couple of wrap-up slides.

The 1991 review featured a series of color graphs in Lotus PresentationBuilder derived from data in a Lotus Improv spreadsheet. The first steps were to pick the graph colors, font and font sizes, and overall size of the graphs. He used RightBrain's Rulers to make the graphs exactly the same size down to the pixel. As he finished each graph, he pasted it as an EPS file directly into a blank page in Concurrence. Steve used Concurrence's Inspector to ensure that all the graphs were placed at the same location on each page.

Next, he created a Master Page for the text part of the slide show and set fonts, leading, and margins. Steve really likes the Tekton font; it's readable even when projected onto a large screen. He set the page layout to be 1120 by 832 pixels so the finished slides would fill the monitor screen.

Picking colors was harder. Things that look great on the computer screen don't necessarily look good when projected, so we knew there was a good chance he would have to make last-minute changes to the colors. Initially, he was trying to pick a dark shade of blue with white text. Mike Slade, NeXT's vice-president of marketing, made an offhand remark that the Master Page looked like a chalkboard to which Steve replied, "Perfect." He chose a wash of chalkboard-green for the background, with yellow Tekton headlines and black body text. The presentation had become an informal "chalk talk."

Assembling the pieces
Concurrence has two presentation views: Outline View and Slide View. The Outline View is great for entering text and organizing the flow of a talk, but Steve worked in the Slide View to get a complete look at the impact of his work. The text slides were relatively easy. They all followed the same Master Slide, and he could move them around in the Slide View.

The image slides took more effort, especially the ones in the "What We Learned in 1991" section of the presentation. For these, we needed to have scanned color images of a NeXTstation computer, a '486 PC, new NeXTSTEP product logos, and red check marks and circles. Steve also wanted to talk about some of the markets in which NeXT has been especially successful by using photographic representations of those markets.

We began by selecting images from stock-photo books. We had the best of these printed from their transparencies and then scanned using HSD's Scan-X Professional. Steve added text, which was overlaid on the photos as a TIFF image. That way, we could take advantage of NeXT-STEP's built-in compositing to set the text as partially transparent, so the photo showed through.

Steve used lots of "builds" in the presentation: A series of slides that add successive bulleted items as you advance through the slide show. For the slides that were primarily text, Steve typed the headline and the first bulleted item, then copied and pasted a duplicate slide below the first, adding a new item. He repeated this process for each slide in the series.

The "NeXTSTEP 3.0" section had tables showing the features and delivery dates for our software versus NeXTSTEP competitors. Once again Steve used Improv, but this time copied the spreadsheets as graphics and pasted them directly onto blank slides. To highlight individual lines of the tables, Steve drew a yellow rectangle exactly the size of the table rows and positioned it behind the table. As he presented the information on successive slides, he moved the yellow rectangle down through each row of a particular table.

Last-minute changes
The completed slide show had 73 slides and a total size of 26MB, mostly because of the 32-bit color images. Steve used a NeXTstation Turbo Color, a beta copy of Concurrence, and a prealpha release of NeXTSTEP 3.0. To play the slide show live, we made a special mouse cable that was 30 feet long with a single button on the end to let Steve advance through the slides from anywhere onstage.

A couple of days before NeXTWORLD Expo, Steve ran through the presentation and demos at NeXT's annual sales meeting. The feedback convinced him that the background colors were too weak, the fonts on the tables too small, and some of the slides confusing and out of order. In the old days, this would have been cause for panic. But immediately following the dry run, Steve and Mike Slade corrected all of the problems within two hours.

The night before the keynote, when the projector and screen were in place, we chose final background colors. The next morning, Steve moved a few slides around, continuing to refine the talk up to the time the doors opened. In retrospect, Steve considers this the best slide show he has ever done, thanks to Concurrence.

Mitch Green is NeXT's corporate systems engineer. He handles the technical advance work for Steve Jobs's presentations.