Macintosh “1984” Ad: A Smashing Success

On this date in 1984 the Apple Macintosh computer was introduced with a commercial during the Super Bowl.

Here are a few things you may not have known about Apple, the Macintosh and the iconic advertisement.

Apple was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.

Let’s talk about Ronald Wayne for a minute

Because of the failure of an earlier business venture, Wayne decided to sell his share of the company back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800 shortly after it was founded. He later received $1,500 to forfeit any claims against Apple.

In the 1990s, Wayne sold his copy of the original Apple company agreement for $500. That agreement sold at auction in 2011 for $1.6 million.

He has said he doesn’t regret selling his share of the company, but does regret selling his copy of the agreement.

The first Apple computer went on sale in July 1976. The Apple II followed in April 1977 and the business-oriented Apple III came in 1980.

By 1982, Steve Jobs was leading a team that was creating a new computer with a graphical interface called the Lisa, named after his daughter. The Lisa, which cost $9,995 when it debuted in 1983, was a commercial flop. Also under development at the same time was the Macintosh. The Mac had the performance of the Lisa, with a much lower production cost and retail price of $1,995.

To launch the Macintosh, Apple planned a massive marketing push. Apple allowed journalists an inside look at the product’s creation. The company published an 18-page brochure in several magazines. But the centerpiece of the marketing push was the $1.5 million television commercial directed by Ridley Scott, who had already directed the feature films “Alien” and “Blade Runner.”

The commercial, called “1984” was an allusion to George Orwell’s novel of the same name, featuring the same dystopian future under a leader similar to “Big Brother.”

The commercial starts with an industrial setting with a line of people marching though a tunnel. A woman wearing the clothing of a track and field athlete runs into the scene wielding a large hammer as she is chased by four police officers. She runs toward a screen with the image of a big-brother figure giving a speech. As “Big Brother” says “We shall prevail” the runner throws her hammer at the screen, destroying it. A voice over then says, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”

The ad ran once nationally during Super Bowl 18 on CBS. It’s also ran in 10 other markets just before midnight on New Year’s Eve to qualify for 1983 advertising awards.

More than 125 million Macs have been sold since its debut.

Our question, in what city is Apple’s headquarters?

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