Amelio was unfamiliar with the talking points that popped up on his teleprompter and soon was trying to wing his presentation.
Repeatedly he lost his train of thought. After more than an hour, the audience was aghast.
There were a few welcome breaks, such as when he brought out the singer Peter Gabriel to demonstrate a new music program.
He also pointed out Muhammad Ali in the first row; the champ was supposed to come onstage to promote a website about Parkinson's disease,
but Amelio never invited him up or explained why he was there.
Amelio rambled for more than two hours before he finally called onstage the person everyone was waiting to cheer.
"Jobs, exuding confidence, style, and sheer magnetism, was the antithesis of the fumbling Amelio as he strode onstage," Carlton wrote.
"The return of Elvis would not have provoked a bigger sensation."
The crowd jumped to its feet and gave him a raucous ovation for more than a minute.
The wilderness decade was over. Finally Jobs waved for silence and cut to the heart of the challenge.
"We've got to get the spark back," he said. "The Mac didn't progress much in ten years.
So Windows caught up. So we have to come up with an OS that's even better."