Apple’s 100-day Macintosh marketing blitz: After the applause, confusion

“Two days after an advertising tease that captured the attention of nearly 100 million people during Super Bowl XVIII, Steve Jobs pulled the Macintosh out of a bag, inserted a disk into the machine and stood by as it talked,” Dan Farber reports for CNET. “Watching from the wings, an exhausted and exhilarated Mike Murray exhaled with relief as the charismatic Jobs took the fledgling Macintosh through its paces without a crash. As Apple’s head of marketing for the new machine, the 28-year-old Murray had spent nearly two years preparing for this moment.”

“Murray’s journey to Apple began during his studies for an MBA at Stanford in 1980. Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford’s MBA program hosted brown-bag lunches where business executives came to talk about their companies and recruit talent,” Farber reports. “[Murray recounts], ‘A fellow who looked like a student, wearing jeans, a button-down shirt, a suit vest and a down-filled outer vest came into the room. Instead of sitting with the students, he walked down to the front of the room — these were small amphitheater rooms — and sat on top of a table, folded his legs and said, ‘Hi, I’m Steve Jobs.’ I immediately put my paper down and started listening to this guy.'”

“Murray decided on the spot that he had to work for Jobs,” Farber reports. “Murray joined the Mac team in March 1982. After the group’s interim director quit, Jobs made him the acting marketing director until ‘they could find someone good.’ They never did.”

“The “1984” commercial kicked off what would be a $15 million, 100-day Macintosh launch campaign,” Farber reports. However, Apple ended up “sending confusing messages, marketing the Macintosh as a business computer and at the same time advertising it as a computer you should take home and play with.”

Tons more in the full article here.


    1. Back then you had computers for business (from IBM, DEC, Data General, Unysis, and the like — and to a much lesser extent Apple) and computers for home (TI, Atari, Apple, etc.). There were few who thought a computer could properly serve both markets.

      For this reason — and many others — Macintosh confused many people as to its primary market. (note: it was not called The Macintosh back then, it was “Macintosh” as in a complete ecosystem and way of doing things)

  1. How is marketing the Macintosh as a business computer you should take home and play with a “confusing message”? That was a bold, stark differentiator at the time, since the competing PC was a computer that precisely NOBODY wanted to take home to play with. With all due respect to the author, the problem with the original Mac was NOT the marketing message.

    The original Mac had exactly two problems that hampered sales and adoption. At $2495, it was just too expensive to be “the computer for the rest of us.” Period. The article even discusses this fact, but glosses over it.

    The other problem was that it should have had at least 256kb of memory instead of 128 – especially at the high price. Anybody who was around then knew the disgust that ensued when you had to swap floppy disks several times just to open MacPaint or MacWrite.

  2. Did it the other way around. Bought the Mac myself and started bringing it to work, along with a dot-matrix printer. Convinced the bosses to give it its own desk, so other engineers could use it too. The Mac worked 10 hours a day, from when I brought it in to when I took to home for about six months, then the bosses managed to score some for us to use. Had to end-run the IT department by calling them Laboratory Equipment, which IT didn’t get a vote on.

    Despite study after study on the cost effectiveness of the Macs, IT got the last laugh and we wound up with mostly Windows except for the CATIA drives.

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