On former Apple employee Don Melton’s blog, he shares a unique peek at what goes on behind the scenes of the Safari development team. Melton lead the team that developed both the Safari and Webkit products now in use by millions on iOS, OS X, and Windows.
Today, he shared details of the launch of Safari some ten years ago at the Macworld Expo in 2003. One of the more revealing sections of the piece looks behind the scenes at Steve Jobs’ rehearsals for his presentation and some of the things that could have gone wrong.
Of course, as we know, the Safari presentation, and everything else that day went on with no problems.
Until I watched that video I found and posted of the Macworld keynote, I had completely forgotten what else was announced that day. Which is pretty sad considering I saw Steve rehearse the whole thing at least four times.
But you have to realize I was totally focused on Safari. And Scott Forstall, my boss, wanted me at those rehearsals in case something went wrong with it.
There’s nothing that can fill your underwear faster than seeing your product fail during a Steve Jobs demo.
To address his concerns about network reliability, Melton brought Ken Kocienda, a Safari engineer, with him in case they needed to troubleshoot any problems. Ken had written a lion’s share of the networking code, so if needed, he could duct tape anything that needed to be patched.
Of course, nothing did go wrong, and Melton and Kocienda got an opportunity to experience something the rest of us can only dream about:
Most of the time during those rehearsals, Ken and I had nothing to do except sit in the then empty audience and watch The Master Presenter at work — crafting his keynote. What a privilege to be a spectator during that process. At Apple, we were actually all students, not just spectators. When I see other companies clumsily announce products these days, I realize again how much the rest of the world lost now that Steve is gone.
The full article is a highly recommended read for anyone who wants a peek behind the scenes at Apple. Melton’s blog also contains other great “inside baseball” moments form his tenure at the Cupertino giant.