On January 22, 1984, the Sunday of the Superbowl of that year, it did not remain in the collective memory due to the clear victory for 38: 9 of the Los Angeles Raiders against the Washington team. The halftime show wasn’t even a scream: no international superstar was a guest on a hastily erected stage (this year “The Weekend” is expected to present his art to television audiences around the world), but a marching band did crossed the artificial turf with many blowers and drums. Superbowl XVIII was remembered for being refinanced through television advertising. Because of an advertisement.
The product was not shown in 60 seconds, its name was not even mentioned, and only two days later it saw the light. And the manufacturer’s name appeared just before the end of the clip, in on-screen text, which an obscure voice from outside also read: “On January 24, Apple will show 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’.”
The reference to the Orwellian-style totalitarian state was shown in director Ridley Scott’s dark short film. Available subjects line up in front of a giant screen showing a “Big Brother” speech, then a blond hammer thrower, who has managed to escape sinister kidnappers, throws a hammer at the screen to shreds.
Apple’s board of directors had known about the commercial for a few days longer than the impressed TV audience of Superbowl XVIII. And I almost stopped it! The usual questions: why is our product not visible? What is the dark mood about? Yes, we live under a dictatorship, but does it have to be? Apple’s luck: it was too late to cancel. You could have picked up the seat, but then you still had to pay for the full minute. A new announcement could not be produced quickly.
The short film could only be seen on television that time, although it also aired once in a small largely unknown cinema. Now YouTube’s worldwide memory has preserved 1984 advertising in the digital age. The original has suffered a lot over time, but Apple itself reissued the streak in 2004 with an iPod dangling from the athlete’s belt.
For 37 years, Apple has shown us where the hammer hangs and where it’s going. Meanwhile, sadly, many of Orwell’s dystopias seem close to becoming a reality. But we don’t have to put constant TV sending and receiving in our apartments – we only do it voluntarily with our SmartTVs and smart speakers. At least there is no totalitarian state power at the other end of the line, just one of the companies that want our best: our money.
Innovation in beige
So 37 years ago today Steve Jobs, not quite 29, took the Macintosh out of its unspectacular casing and had it speak to the audience at Apple’s shareholders meeting at the Flint Center in Cupertino. The rule-breaking computer promised nothing less than the profound revolution that the computer had to be accessible to everyone and function without the need for specialist knowledge. The “Big Brother” of the previous Sunday ad was a symbol for the big, inflexible and yes, dictatorial company IBM, whose computers could only be run by specialists and fed data from wage slaves at the terminals.
Well, it wasn’t quite like that. At that time, IBM had long since released personal computers and thus coined the term PC in the first place. The IBM PC, however, was actually a reaction to the Apple II, with which the Californian start-up had turned the world view of computing and introduced the color beige seven years before the Macintosh.
The Mac was the first truly personal machine that people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere had dreamed of. The computer speech at its inception was not generated by the machine’s artificial intelligence, but written by its developers working with Andy Hertzfeld. Only now is the Mac really talking to its users via Siri, and this is still at a basic level.
But with the Mac, unlike last year with the Lisa, Apple managed to bring the concept of a graphical user interface to market at a reasonable price. You no longer had to spend hours, days or weeks learning the commands in order to do something with the machine, but simply looked around the screen and recognized its resemblance to your desk, filing cabinets and files and even the office trash can. The price: $ 2,500 or £ 1,840 in the UK. It was much more than T Apple engineer Jef Raskin intended. He thought the Mac should only cost about $ 500. But when Steve Jobs took over the project, the demands on the machine went up as did the price. From today’s perspective the right decision.
What Apple first introduced as standard in 1984 – the beige computer – it later criticized, saying, “Sorry, no beige” when the colorful iMac came out in 1998. That world was blown away by the semi-transparent case and its all-in-one window to the guts. But the rules, especially yours, should only be broken when you have new and better ones. “Only the master can break the form” – as Schiller said in the eighteenth century (Friedrich, not Phil).
Seven years ago, when the Mac turned 30, we produced a number of features on the Mac that you might be interested in reading:
We also have an article describing Apple’s history.
This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by Karen Haslam.
- According to this source Happy birthday Macintosh! – Macworld UK
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