On January 22, 1984, Apple aired what's widely considered one of the best TV ads of all time. Two days later the Macintosh computer was released "with the promise to put the creative power of technology in everyone’s hands." Over the years—30 of them, to be exact—we've seen many successful incarnations of the Mac (do you remember your blueberry G3?) and a few not-so successful ones (I still think the 20th anniversary Mac is downright nifty). The creation of the Mac influenced computers as much then as it does today. Most remarkable, though, the Mac is still around and, arguably, better than ever.
“Every company that made computers when we started the Mac, they’re all gone,” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, told Macworld in an interview on Thursday. “We’re the only one left. We’re still doing it, and growing faster than the rest of the PC industry because of that willingness to reinvent ourselves over and over.”
Macworld has more on the computer's longevity:
“There were so many things of value in the original Mac that it is still recognizable,” Schiller said. The teams at Apple that have built and rebuilt the Mac over the years have had the option to toss away anything that didn’t work—and yet so much of the original Mac concept succeeded that, 30 years later, the Mac remains undeniably the Mac.
Bud Tribble, now Apple’s vice president of software technology, was a member of the original Macintosh development team, giving him a unique perspective on both the Apple of 1984 and the 2014 model.
“An incredible amount of thought and creativity went into the original Mac metaphor,” Tribble said. “So there are some extremely strong threads of DNA that have lasted for 30 years. The sign of the strength of them and the underlying principles behind them—that the Mac should be easily approachable and learnable by just looking at it, that it should bend to the will of the person and not bend the person’s will to the technology—those underlying threads also apply to our other products.”
The advent of the Mac also helped fan the obsessive flames of the great Apple vs. PC war—the Catholics vs. Protestants of our time—a feud already brewing prior to 1984. And what a war it is. Apple fans are zealots, and their detractors equally nutty. PC Magazine says of the battle:
That first model, simply called Macintosh (later rebadged the Macintosh 128k), brought users a relatively refined GUI, the Mac OS that continues now as Mac OS X. The Mac even ushered in Steve Jobs's first keynote, with the unveiling of the iconic "1984" ad during the 1984 Super Bowl. But it's hard to appreciate technology at a distance, because even the best computer from 1984 looks to modern eyes like a solar-powered calculator in 2014.
Now, PC Magazine (this was pre-PCMag.com) didn't actually review the original Apple Macintosh when it came out in 1984. No, the Apple versus PC divide was already in place, as evidenced by this cover story—when PC Magazine was billed as "The independent guide to IBM personal computers." We did, however, talk about it, because the Macintosh was clearly worth noting, even if we didn't have one in the labs. [...]
But PCs lack the fervor and excitement of a Mac. They just do, at least for your average user. They neither glisten in the morning light nor make you look cool at a cafe as you pretend to write the next great American novel. The PC is for the people; the Mac for a certain kind of people—namely, those who can afford them. For many, though, the operating system's ease and the luminous design of a Mac (a staple of all Apple products) outweighs personal fiscal responsibility.
Speaking of fervor, back in 1998 and fresh out of college, I worked a low-level job at Macworld Magazine. (Fun fact: We had to use a PC, the company's only non-testing lab PC, to generate magazine circulation reports. "It's more powerful and runs on the right software," my then boss would explain. Heh.) I remember the line for my first Macworld convention at Moscone Center was insane—One Direction insane. It went down Third Street, wound around Folsom, and back up Second Street. The fandom was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. Someone in line for Steve Jobs keynote fainted and an ambulance had to be called. It was glorious.
By now we all know the important names involved. Steve Jobs. Steve Wozniak. And more. But those are the big ones. Jobs died on October 5, 2011. Vigils were held at Apple stores and in Dolores Park, now ground zero for San Francisco's exploding tech sector on the weekends. The Woz, as he's affectionately known, does awesome things like toodle around on Segway and make cameo appearances on a Bravo reality shows. The Mac prefaced the iPhone, which itself led to another type of revolution.
Here's to 30 more years of slick computing and sleek design, Apple. Thanks for the memories.
Oh, and here's that ad: