Apple’s Macintosh introduced 21 years ago today

On January 24, 1984, 21 years ago today, Apple announced the Macintosh to their Board of Directors and to the world. Apple-history.com writes, “The Macintosh was the first affordable computer to include a Graphical User Interface. It was built around the new Motorola 68000 chip, which was significantly faster than previous processors, running at 8 MHz. The Mac came in a small beige case with a black and white monitor built in. It came with a keyboard and mouse, and had a floppy drive that took 400k 3.5″ disks–the first personal computer to do so. It originally sold for $2,495.”

Two days prior on January 22, 1984 during the Super Bowl, Apple ran their famous “1984” commercial. The voice-over intoned:

“Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!”

At that moment, the shocked masses saw the hammer fly through the screen. Then millions saw these words and heard them spoken aloud:

“On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”

In June 1999, TV Guide ran a cover story on the “50 Greatest Commercials of All Time.” Apple’s “1984” ad was #1 on the list. TV Guide wrote:

“With a single airing during Super Bowl XVIII, ‘1984’ did more to change the way ads are created and viewed than any commercial in years. It was not the most heartwarming spot nor a big laugh getter, but it turned a little-known brand into a household name and set a new commercial standard for production values and cinematic style. ‘1984’ also raised the financial stakes: Apple spent a then-outlandish sum of $400,000 to produce the ad and $500,000 to air it; 15 years later, a minute of Super Bowl time costs $3.2 million. Lee Clow, then executive creative director of Chiat/Day, recalls that ‘1984’ almost debuted during a lowlier college bowl game. ‘We had to make a last-minute switch to the Super Bowl because Apple wanted to air the ad closer to the date when the product would actually be available for sale,’ he says. ‘Funny how something that simple could have changed a big piece of advertising history.”

See Apple’s “1984” ad here.

23 Comments

  1. And I’m looking at mine right now. It’s sitting on a shelf in my office.
    I bought one of the first ones in 1984.

    Still works too!!

    Macs cannot be killed with conventional weapons…

    David Vesey

  2. I bought an early one. Great as it was, it was no business machine. I wonder how the Lisa would have done if it hadn’t been priced as an insanely great machine.

    Happy birthday.

  3. Less is More:

    You can’t get away with a zinger like that and then just walk away. Why wasn’t it a business machine? Was the fact that it networked out of the box against it? High quality printing? Excel? Word? Compact, desk sized shape? Easy to use? What?

  4. I was a Creative Director for a ‘Multi-Media Company’, which meant slides , video, etc.

    I’d bring it in to work in it’s little case and do word processing, budgets, story boards (I can’t draw), set design.

    It really needed that external floppy, but for me what it did out of the box WAS business.

    Within two years I had spent about $6000 what with hardware and memory upgrades, printer ($500 right? or $400?). I was on Compuserve with my $500 modem.

    Yes, I remember it well.

    The Mac was a great leap forward and clearly the future.

    Makes me laugh when I hear kids talk about ‘expensive’ computers that cost over $2000.

    David Vesey

  5. I bought an original Macintosh in April of 1984. With an extra external floppy drive, and a dot matrix printer, it cost $3500. A few years later, my Apple LaserWriter cost $4500.

    And now, 20 years later, the mini Mac is $500. Oh how times change!

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