Thirty years ago on Jan. 22, Super Bowl XVIII pitted the Washington Redskins against the then-Los Angeles Raiders. The game was a blowout; the Raiders dominated, crushing the Redskins 38-9 at Tampa Stadium. While today is the 30th anniversary of that game, it is what was broadcast in between plays that would make history. Apple Computers announced the product that would change the future, the Macintosh, with the tagline, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”
The commercial was completely novel, something Apple would repeat with several other ad campaigns for their innovations. It didn’t show the Macintosh computer, nor did the commercial describe its power, convenience or innovative GUI. Instead it referenced one of the most iconic books of the 20th century, George Orwell’s "1984."
Filmed on the outskirts of London, the commercial invokes a dystopian feel. Director Ridley Scott, who had released "Alien" in 1979 and "Blade Runner" in 1982, was not unfamiliar with futuristic overtones. Shot for an astonishing $900,000, the commercial played on fears that IBM had already monopolized the market. But a petite blonde woman destroys the status quo by flinging a sledgehammer through the projected face of Big Brother. Apple would go on to have several great and terrible years, even firing founder Steve Jobs in the 1990s. It wasn’t until 2001, with the launch of the first-generation iPod, that Apple began to regain the following it has now. Apple celebrates 30 years of Macintosh on Friday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
Watch the 1984 Macintosh ad below.