Steven Levy: The Macintosh is 30, and I was there for its birth

“Nineteen eighty-four was not like 2014. When Steve Jobs launched the Macintosh, he had to generate excitement about a product — a computer — that was unfamiliar to most people, if not downright scary,” Steven Levy writes for Wired. “His creation would eventually entice them into changing their minds, but first, they had to be intrigued enough to learn about it.”

“The Macintosh was new, but the media would have to be old. There were no tech blogs, no Facebook, no Twitter, and certainly no Mac rumor websites. There were no websites at all,” Levy writes. “So Jobs had to generate his own campaign to tell the world about the computer that he would announce on January 24, 1984, 30 years ago today.”

“Part of the effort came in the production of the now-famous Ridley Scott Super Bowl commercial that climaxed with a dynamic woman athlete flinging a hammer to disrupt the ravings of an unnamed evil empire’s mouthpiece,” Levy writes. “Almost no one remembers who played in the Super Bowl (the Los Angeles Raiders lost to the Washington Redskins. Like I said, 1984 wasn’t like 2014). But the commercial, aired two days before the Mac launch, is part of history, and many can recite the tagline verbatim: ‘On January 24, Apple will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ’1984.’'”

“The assignment was my idea. I had been covering the computer world for a couple of years, and while the rest of the world paid little attention, Silicon Valley was buzzing with anticipation about Apple’s mysterious new machine. I managed to overcome editorial skepticism at Rolling Stone to get an OK to cover the launch, something of a stretch for the magazine of music and youth culture. But I was stunned when Apple did not embrace my idea right away. Its reps insisted — on orders from Jobs, I later learned — that my coverage was contingent on putting the Macintosh (or, presumably, Jobs) on the cover of Rolling Stone. And that wasn’t going to happen,” Levy writes. “Finally, Jobs relented, and in November, I found myself at Bandley Three, the modest building in which the Mac team was frantically trying to squash software bugs and lock down features before the launch. It was to be one of the greatest days of my life in reporting.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

Related articles:
20 ways Apple’s revolutionary, astonishing Mac changed everything – January 24, 2014
Apple invites website visitors to celebrate 30 years of Macintosh – January 24, 2014
Happy 30th Birthday, Apple Macintosh! – January 24, 2014


  1. 3 years ago I got a original Mac for my birthday ( great husband ). What blew me away was how portable it is. It came with a messenger bag, that alone was 15 years ahead of it’s time. The all in one design with a handle on the top, and easy to plug in peripherals, made it the most portable computer at the time. ( I do know about Osborne and saw one in action. However they were out of business by then. ) This is never mentioned, and it’s a shame. I think this was important to Steve. After he returned the Macs got portable. Even the towers got handles, something no other tower maker has done. The new Pro is amazingly portable. With laptops we think nothing of portability. In 1984 if was just as revolutionary as a mouse.

  2. In the comments under Levy’s reminiscence, the usual suspects pop out of the woodwork, wielding lead pipes and switchblades, a dance of accusations that never shall end…

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