Apple Celebrates Thirty Year Anniversary of Macintosh Super Bowl Ad

Apple Macintosh

When Apple designed the Macintosh, the company knew that this computer was different. Many computer users today are too young to remember a time when graphical user interfaces did not exist, but before the Mac, most computers used a text based interface. That means that when a computer was turned on, the user stared at a dull screen which did not feature a single picture. Commands needed to be typed in to get the computer to do anything, and some people were clueless as to what exactly needed to be entered.

Not only were text based interfaces boring, they were more complicated to use, which was one of the reasons most American households did not have computer at the time. The release of the Apple, with its graphical user interface, changed all that. Apple helped make computers easier and more fun to use, helping to start the computer revolution of the eighties. Of course, that revolution might have stalled if the Mac had not been properly promoted. This year Apple celebrates the thirty year anniversary of the world famous Super Bowl advertisement that introduced the Macintosh.

The commercial was broadcast during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984. The advertisement’s fame resulted in it often being shown on television specials later on. These days it can be seen on YouTube. The commercial was directed by Ridley Scott, the Englishman who was also involved in making hit movies such as Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator. The latest film he directed, Exodus, stars Christian Bale, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley, and is now in post-production.

The Macintosh commercial featured a theme which referenced the novel 1984, which was written by George Orwell and published in 1949. The book depicts a dystopian futuristic society where everyone is being monitored at virtually every moment, apparently not all that different from the type of surveillance being committed today by the NSA.

The novel’s main character lives in an area controlled by an organization which is led by an individual known only as Big Brother. The regime of Big Brother is ruthless, and oppresses its citizens. Big Brother also appears in the Macintosh commercial, where he represents IBM, which at the time was often referred to as Big Blue. At the time, IBM dominated the computer industry, and Apple, which was much smaller than IBM at the time, considered Big Blue to be its main competitor.

In the advertisement, Big Brother can be seen on a large screen, addressing a large group of his followers during an assembly. Just about everyone and everything is dull and colorless, except for a young woman wearing orange shorts and a white shirt. She runs toward the screen displaying Big Brother with a sledgehammer, which she proceeds to throw at him. One interpretation of the advertisement is that the Apple Macintosh, with its lively graphical user interface was going to replace IBM as the dominant force in the personal computer world. Thirty years later Apple celebrates the anniversary of the Super Bowl ad that launched the Macintosh, and has helped to make it the most valuable company in the world today.

Super Bowl XLVIII will also feature notable ads. Arnold Schwarzenegger will appear in two separate commercials promoting Bud Light. Soccer star David Beckam will be seen in his underwear, and fans will be able to vote on whether he will appear “covered” or “uncovered.”  This year’s Super Bowl will certainly showcase great advertisements as Apple celebrates the thirty year anniversary of the Macintosh.

By Jean-Paul Gauthier

The Verge
Los Angeles Times

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