More than three thousand people showed up at the event, lining up two hours before curtain time. They were not disappointed, at least by the show. Jobs was onstage for three hours, and he again proved to be, in the words of

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times, “the Andrew Lloyd Webber of product introductions, a master of stage flair and special effects.” Wes Smith of the Chicago Tribune said the launch was “to product demonstrations what Vatican II was to church meetings.”

Jobs had the audience cheering from his opening line: “It’s great to be back.” He began by recounting the history of personal computer architecture, and he promised that they would now witness an event “that occurs only once or

twice in a decade—a time when a new architecture is rolled out that is going to change the face of computing.” The NeXT software and hardware were

designed, he said, after three years of consulting with universities across the country. “What we realized was that higher ed wants a personal mainframe.”

As usual there were superlatives. The product was “incredible,” he said, “the best thing we could have imagined.” He praised the beauty of even the parts unseen. Balancing on his fingertips the foot-square circuit board that would

be nestled in the foot-cube box, he enthused, “I hope you get a chance to look at this a little later. It’s the most beautiful printed circuit board I’ve ever seen in my life.” He then showed how the computer could play speeches—he

featured King’s “I Have a Dream” and Kennedy’s “Ask Not”—and send email with audio attachments. He leaned into the microphone on the computer to record one of his own. “Hi, this is Steve, sending a message on a pretty historic day.” Then he asked those in the

audience to add

“a round of applause”

to the message,

and they did.