January 22, 2015

During the Super Bowl on January 22, 1984, Apple introduced its new Macintosh computer with what has become one of the most famous television commercials of all time.

The ad featured images from George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four and was directed by Ridley Scott.

It ends with this voice-over: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce the Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

“But for all the accolades ‘1984’ has won over the past three decades — among them the Grand Prix award at the 1984 Cannes Lions Advertising Festival and the No. 1 slot in TV Guide’s list of the greatest commercials of all time — the ad almost never saw the light of day.

Though Apple co-founder Steve Jobs loved the ad from the start and drew wild applause when he showed it to employees at a national sales meeting during the fall of 1983, the company’s board of directors was less impressed with the work of ad agency Chiat/Day.

According to Steve Hayden, a Chiat/Day copywriter who helped conceive the commercial, the board sat in silence after the ad was first presented, and chairman Mike Markula asked his colleagues whether they, too, wanted to fire the agency responsible.”

— “How The Greatest Super Bowl Ad Ever — Apple’s ‘1984’ — Almost Didn’t Make It To Air”
Business Insider, January 22, 2014

A story excerpt from the National Museum of American History:

“While the ad aired during the Super Bowl on January 22, it merely pointed to Macintosh’s official debut two days later.

On January 24, 1984, Apple held its annual shareholders meeting at the Flint Center auditorium on the campus of De Anza College, just a block from Apple’s offices in Cupertino, California. After dispensing with the formalities of board votes and quarterly earnings statements, the real show began.

Steve Jobs walked on stage in a double-breasted suit and bow tie and rallied the troops by tweaking his chief rival: ‘IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control, Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry, the entire information age? Was George Orwell right?’

Jobs then presented perhaps the greatest new product demonstration in history. Jobs walked over to a black bag, unzipped it, and set up the Macintosh to wild applause. Then Jobs inserted a floppy disk and started the demonstration of the Mac’s windows, menus, fonts, and drawing tools, all set to the stirring theme from Chariots of Fire. Then, the Mac spoke for itself: “Hello, I am Macintosh…”

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