Happy 28th Birthday, Apple Macintosh!

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.”

TV Guide and many other publications have named Apple’s “1984” as the greatest commercial of all time.

Steve Jobs at a keynote in 1983 presenting “1984” for the first time ever:

Apple’s “1984” ad:

Steve Jobs introducing Macintosh to the world before a packed house at Cupertino’s Flint Center on Jan. 24, 1984 at Apple’s Shareholders’ Meeting:

Steve Jobs introducing Mac on Jan. 24, 1984 (continued, includes 5 TV spots that introduced the world to Macintosh):

Watch the full 1984 Apple Shareholders Meeting via YouTube here.

Apple’s original press release:

Apple Introduces Macintosh Advanced Personal Computer

CUPERTINO, Calif., January 24, 1984–Apple Computer today unveiled its much-anticipated Macintosh computer, a sophisticated, affordably priced personal computer designed for business people, professionals and students in a broad range of fields. Macintosh is available in all dealerships now. Based on the advanced, 32-bit architecture developed for Apple’s Lisa computer, Macintosh combines extraordinary computing power with exceptional ease of use–in a unit that is smaller and lighter than most transportable computers. The suggested retail price for Macintosh is $2,495, which during the introductory period also includes a word-processing program and graphics package.

Macintosh, along with three powerful new Lisa 2 computers, forms the basis of the Apple 32 SuperMicro family of computers. All systems in the family run Macintosh software.

Like Apple’s ground-breaking Lisa computer, Macintosh uses its built-in user-interface software and high-resolution display to simulate the actual desk-top working environment–complete with built-in notepads, file folders, a calculator and other office tools. Every Macintosh computer contains 64 kilobytes of read-only memory (ROM), built-in Lisa Technology and 128 kilobytes of random-access memory (RAM) that support these desk-top tools.

Users tell Macintosh what to do simply by moving a “mouse”–a small pointing device–to select among functions listed in menus and represented by pictorial symbols on the screen. Users are no longer forced to memorize the numerous and confusing keyboard commands of conventional computers. The result is radical ease of use and a significant reduction in learning time. In effect, the Macintosh is a desk-top appliance offering users increased utility and creativity with simplicity.

“We believe that Lisa Technology represents the future direction of all personal computers,” said Steven P. Jobs, Chairman of the Board of Apple. “Macintosh makes this technology available for the first time to a broad audience–at a price and size unavailable from any other manufacturer. By virtue of the large amount of software written for them, the Apple II and the IBM PC became the personal-computer industry’s first two standards. We expect Macintosh to become the third industry standard.”

A wide range of software applications will be supplied by leading independent software companies. Currently, more than 100 companies are developing software and hardware peripheral devices for Macintosh. The popular Lotus 1-2-3 integrated business package will be available in a Macintosh version, and Microsoft’s Multiplan financial-planning application is available immediately.

Two Macintosh application programs–one for word processing and one for graphics–also are available from Apple immediately and will be offered at no charge to anyone purchasing Macintosh during the first 100 days after introduction. These software packages will be followed by communications software, business productivity tools and programming languages that will allow Macintosh to gain access to data from large mainframe computers.

Twenty-four of the nation’s leading universities, such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale, have joined forces with Apple to plan and implement personal-computer applications over the next few years. (See accompanying Apple University Consortium press release.) Under terms of the new Apple University Consortium, each member expects to purchase more than $2 million of Apple products (mostly Macintosh computers) over the next three years for use by faculty and students. Members of the consortium may share courseware (educational software) and application developments with one another in accordance with the agreement.

The prestigious accounting firm of Peat, Marwick Mitchell and Co. has ordered more than 2,000 Macintosh computers to be delivered in 1984.

Based on these commitments, Apple expects demand to exceed supply for several months.

Apple is manufacturing the new computers in a recently opened, highly automated factory in Fremont, California, which is capable of producing one system every 27 seconds and therefore meeting what is expected to be a large demand.

Macintosh Slashes Computer Learning Time

Macintosh is aimed at a broad group of business people, professionals and college students. These people perform tasks that are similar in one important respect: they all involve working at a desk and transforming information and ideas into memos, reports, budgets, plans and analyses.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that while there are 25 million of these “knowledge workers” in the United States alone, only 5 percent currently use desk-top computers. Apple market research indicates that the majority are unable or unwilling to invest the 20 to 40 hours it takes to master conventional computers and the additional three to 10 hours’ learning time required for each new application program.

Macintosh, by contrast, typically takes only a few hours to learn. Its operation mirrors the activities that are carried on by people at their desks. Papers can be shuffled on screen, documents revised or discarded, charts drawn–all with a few simple commands executed with the mouse. Several documents can be displayed on screen simultaneously, in “windows” that can be moved, expanded or shrunk. All applications, from financial-planning tools to graphics programs, are based on the same set of intuitive operations. This means that numbers, words and pictures can be easily .. cut” from memos, charts or graphs and “pasted” into other documents–even those created in separate application programs produced by different software companies.

“Macintosh easily fits on a desk, both in terms of its style of operation and its physical design,” said Jobs. “It takes up about the same amount of desk space as a piece of paper. With Macintosh, the computer is an aid to spontaneity and originality, not an obstacle. It allows ideas and relationships to be viewed in new ways. Macintosh enhances not just productivity, but also creativity.”

Macintosh Sales Outlook

According to industry analyst Jean Yates, of Yates Ventures in Palo Alto, California, worldwide sales of Macintosh could total 350,000 units this year, with 70 percent of sales going to businesses, 20 percent to colleges and universities and 10 percent to home users. Many office users are expected to carry Macintosh computers home for work, and this is expected to fuel home sales as family members and others are exposed to the computer.

Aaron Goldberg, of International Data Corp., (IDC), in Santa Clara, California, said, “There’s no doubt Apple has a winner with this product. The market has been waiting for this combination of technology, ease of operation and price.”

Support from Leading Software Vendors

Apple expects 90 percent of all Macintosh software to come from independent software vendors. Among the prominent companies working on Macintosh applications are Microsoft Corp., Lotus Development, and Software Publishing Corp. (See list attached to software-support press release.)

Apple is supporting these efforts by providing independent software vendors with Macintosh computers and comprehensive open-architecture programming documentation, classes and other development support from Apple representatives. Apple foresees at least 500 software packages available for Macintosh by the end of 1984, including productivity applications, communications packages, educational tools, specialized applications (such as accounting packages) and games.

Apple is currently providing two application programs for the Macintosh: MacWrite and MacPaint. MacWrite is a versatile word-processing program that features multiple fonts and font sizes, search-and-replace functions and the ability to cut text and pictures from other programs and paste them into memos or reports. MacPaint is a powerful illustration graphics program. Users can choose from an array of tools, such as brushes, pencils and erasers, and a large selection of textures and shapes to create an endless variety of free-form and structured images.

Programs to be released by Apple in 1984 include–for the first quarter–MacTerminal, which allows Macintosh to emulate DEC VT 100, VT 52, TTY and, with AppleLine, IBM 3277 and 3278 terminals for access to a variety of text) and is protected by a tough plastic case. Apple’s new Lisa 2 series of computers also use the 3 1/2-inch disk drive, enabling the Lisas to run Macintosh programs.

Macintosh has two RS 232C/RS 422 serial ports for attaching a printer and peripheral communications devices such as a modem; another port for connecting an optional external disk drive; and an audio system that has a range of more than 12 octaves, is capable of producing polyphonic pitches and can replicate human speech. In addition, Apple is developing the AppleBus point-to-point interconnect system for all Apple computers, which will allow Macintosh computers to communicate with each other, peripheral devices and other Apple computers linked together. The hardware interface for AppleBus is built into every Macintosh and Lisa computer system.

Peripherals and Accessories

A number of Macintosh accessories and peripheral devices are available now: The Apple Imagewriter printer for high-quality text and graphics; an accountant-style numeric keypad; the Macintosh carrying case; a disk pack of ten 3 1/2-inch diskettes; and the Apple telephone modem, with data transmission rates of 1,200 or 300 baud. Another peripheral, AppleLine, allows Macintosh to emulate IBM 3277 and 3278 mainframe computers. An external disk drive and a security kit, which locks Macintosh and keyboard to a table or desk will be available in March 1984.

Sales and Service

Apple estimates that initially 85 percent of Macintosh sales will be made through retail channels, with direct sales making up the remainder. The Macintosh will be sold through Apple’s 3,000 authorized dealers worldwide.

To aid in its sales support, Apple has initiated an “Own-a-Mac” program. This program offers incentive discounts to sales personnel to encourage their purchasing a Macintosh computer. In this way sales staff will fully understand product features and application programs.

Designed to be marketed internationally, Macintosh uses no English language in or on the machine. Icons depict the functions of the keys, controls, ports and servicing instructions. The Macintosh ROM contains no English code, making it easy for a translator to adapt the software for use in any language. This can be accomplished within a few hours. once the keyboard has been changed, any translator can create a “localized” version of the machine. The translator need not be familiar with programming. Localized versions of the Macintosh will be shipped to the United Kingdom, France, West Germany, Italy and Australia within three months of introduction, and to other countries within a year.

Macintosh was designed from the start to be built in the millions to meet the anticipated high demand. To that end, Apple is manufacturing the product in a specially designed $20-million facility in Fremont, California. This highly automated factory can produce one system every 27 seconds. Under terms of a “zero-defect” agreement, Apple’s component suppliers will test parts according to Apple’s specifications before delivery to the Macintosh factory.

Service for Macintosh will be coordinated through Apple’s conventional channels, which include Apple dealers and the more than 300 RCA service centers nationwide. Macintosh was designed for simple servicing: the system is composed of only four modules, each of which can be easily replaced in the event of failure.


The basic Macintosh package will have a suggested retail price of $2,495 and will include the main unit, keyboard and a mouse. The package also comes with an accessory box that contains the system disk; “A Guided Tour of Macintosh,” a learning disk and cassette tape; a blank disk; a power cord; an owner’s manual; and a programmer’s switch.

A host of peripherals and accessories will be available for the Macintosh computer from Apple and will have suggested retail prices as follows:

Imagewriter printer $595 ($495 if purchased with Macintosh)
Numeric Keypad $129
Modem 300 $225
Modem 1200 $495
Carrying Case $99
3 1/2-inch disk box (10 disks) $49
MacWrite/MacPaint $195 (included free with each Macintosh during the introductory period)
External Drive $495

Source: Apple Computer, Inc.


  1. I have used the Macintosh one year out of the 28 years that it has been in existence.

    And the iPhone came before that. So you could say for me the Genesis Rock was the phone then the Mac. Then came the iPad and now Apple has me in its tight embrace. The “Kiss of the Vampire” so to speak, except in this case it’s Kate Beckinsale the Underworld Lycan that’s given me the kiss. And boy does it feel good!

    This worm has turned baby! And there’s no turning back to Windows, let me tell you.

    Suck on my ass, Ballmer!

    1. I figured as much; your first introduction to Apple came with the iPhone and your exposure to the Macintosh was incidental.

      Everything you write sounds woefully out of context, because you have absolutely no historical perspective of Apple, Inc. All of your rhetoric is stolen from those who are equally as ignorant as you. The only difference is, they get paid to write their drivel.

      1. I use technology as I see fit. There’s no fanboy allegiance of the blind, nor should there be a need for it. The day Apple loses its relevance will be the day I shift to another platform. What I need is utility – the gain I get from using a platform, device or operating system.

        To me, all the sentimental claptrap in the world won’t save a company if it falls out of relevance. Ask RIM and their myriad fans.

        It’s only stupidity really that makes a person subject himself to pain and punishment hoping for a brighter day someday.

    1. Yeah. The original Mac was in Black & White. Compare that to my Apple ][+ with 8 colors (though two of them were black, and another two were white. Six colors had the Apple ][, though you could position red and yellow pixels in a dither and when you squinted it would appear orange!)

      1. I know!

        I had a Taxxan monitor, a 300-baud modem and dual disk drives. I used ammo cans to store all of my 5.25-inch floppies. By the time the Mac arrived I considered myself somewhat of an Apple veteran and wasn’t impressed by its tiny b&w screen.

        However, I bought an SE a few years later and haven’t looked back.

  2. I still have an original Mac stored in its official Apple carrying case and an Imagewriter printer as well. I bought it new, just after the release. At the time I was selling Macs at a retail store and Apple allowed sales people to buy them below dealer cost. As far as I know it still works.

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