This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Apple Smashes Big Brother


 080120-ads-hmed-01-11a_grid-6x2 Mac-1984-ad

January 22, 1984:  Apple 1984 Suprebowl Ad

Apple created the opportunity of a lifetime with the Macintosh. It was the first mouse-driven computer and Graphical User Interface (GUI) machine. The machine would have a release date of Jan 24, and held a 8 MHz Motorola 68000 microprocessor. It had 128 KB DRAM and came with a 9″ black-and-white CRT with resolution of 512×342. The price of the machine was $2495But what was key to this computer launch was the ad. This ad ran Nationally only once – If you missed the Superbowl, you would have missed the Ad – that is, unless you watched the news the next day. The ad appeared in the 3rd Quarter of the game.


Originally a subject of contention within Apple, it has nevertheless consistently been lauded as a classic, winning critical acclaim over time. It is now considered a watershed eventand a masterpiece in advertising, and is widely regarded as one of the most memorable and successful American television commercials of all time.

The commercial was rebroadcast in an updated version in 2004 on its 20th anniversary, with the heroine modified to be listening to an iPod. Viewers generally saw the Big Brother target of the Apple advertisement as being Microsoft, with the original villain, IBM, being all but forgotten.

By the way: Superbowl XVIII pitted the LA Raiders vs. the Washington Redskins. Raiders won 38-9. The average cost for ad space: $368,000. Apple’s budget on the commercial – $900,000. Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) directed it. The Board of Directors did not like the Spot, but Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak did. Woz even stated that if the board was to reject the commercial, he would pay for the spot out of his own pocket.


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