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1984 was not like 1984
January 24, 2005 5:40 AM   Subscribe

Buy your mac a drink, she's 21 years old today. On january 24th 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh, and thanks to a bunch of German mac-geeks the public TV broadcast from that day with Steve Jobs is available on the web.
posted by dabitch (35 comments total)

 
I saw the iconic advert as a child and have never looked back. Whatever anyone says, the Macintosh defined the way that we interact with computers. While Apple lacked the vision to make to make the technology available to others and held on to unsustainable high margins long after the PC was becoming a commodity, the Mac defines what people think of as computing today. Windows is a pale imitation, but the fact that today's business PCs operate using the same desktop metaphor as the original Mac shows that Apple may have lost the war, but it won the argument. Oh, not to add to the complexity, but the Apple Lisa, introduced a year earlier was actually the first GUI-based Apple. http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=265
posted by The Salaryman at 5:49 AM on January 24, 2005


The iconic advert "1984" can be seen here, here and here

I just love the audience cheering like mad when the Mac starts up in the fp-link. That's when the blind mac-love really took hold. ;)
posted by dabitch at 6:00 AM on January 24, 2005


I'd hit it.
posted by zpousman at 6:25 AM on January 24, 2005


good luck today @ cupertino dre !!
posted by gren at 6:28 AM on January 24, 2005


My Macs are genderless, although all the ports are female.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:38 AM on January 24, 2005


In the interest of equal time, a video of Steve Ballmer selling Windows 1.0 (via Slashdot).
posted by mcwetboy at 6:46 AM on January 24, 2005


Fantastic video. I loved Jobs' little bowtie, and the cheering crowd, and the music, and the computer's "joke".

Thanks for the post, dabitch. I'd give my iBook a drink but I'm already under the weather and then I rather think she would be too. (She is female, by the way, how'd you know? Although my husband's PowerBook is male.)
posted by livii at 6:56 AM on January 24, 2005


Man, Tucker Carlson hasn't aged a day...but at least he got a haircut.
posted by boost ventilator at 7:07 AM on January 24, 2005


I heard Bush's inaugural speech was done on a Mac.
posted by srboisvert at 7:08 AM on January 24, 2005


I hadn't thought of my macs as having a gender -- although when the voice is turned on, it has a female voice so I guess that makes them females.

I think this is the first time I've seen Jobs without the mock turtleneck.

That Ballmer video is just scary.
posted by birdherder at 7:10 AM on January 24, 2005


boost - thought the same damn thing and was coming back here to post that.. beat me to it ;)
posted by mrplab at 7:16 AM on January 24, 2005


Whatever anyone says, the Macintosh defined the way that we interact with computers.

hate to burst your bubble but they did it first
posted by canned polar bear at 7:24 AM on January 24, 2005


Sadly xerox parc never produced any of their groundbreaking ideas. If they had, I'd wager there'd be xerox evangelists today much like we now have apple fans. ;)
posted by dabitch at 7:33 AM on January 24, 2005


i drove mine to quebec 3 years ago and bought it a drink there.
posted by howling fantods at 7:35 AM on January 24, 2005 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that The audience seems predisposed to cheer before anything happens.

Some people are clapping before they even see the computer. The audience even cheers him for taking a floppy out of this jacket.

Maybe something earlier in the presentation, before this clip starts, got them going. Or did Apple zealots predate the MacIntosh?

Also, what was a business' product launch doing on public TV?
posted by guanxi at 7:35 AM on January 24, 2005


Sadly xerox parc never produced any of their groundbreaking ideas. If they had, I'd wager there'd be xerox evangelists today much like we now have apple fans. ;)


I'd take that wager. Xerox did not have Steve Jobs.
posted by gyc at 7:39 AM on January 24, 2005


Whatever anyone says, the Macintosh defined the way that we interact with computers.

You mean yelling and cursing, with sporadic hitting of the keyboard and monitor?
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:43 AM on January 24, 2005


Maybe something earlier in the presentation, before this clip starts, got them going. Or did Apple zealots predate the MacIntosh?

Look for the empty packs of grape Kool-Aid.
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:44 AM on January 24, 2005


yep, you got a point there gyc. Mine was just thet Xerox credit is often forgotten simply because they never made and sold any of their cool stuff, so average joe never heard of them.
posted by dabitch at 7:44 AM on January 24, 2005


hate to burst your bubble but they did it first
canned polar bear, hate to burst your bubble, but he did it before they did.
posted by jbrjake at 7:45 AM on January 24, 2005


jbrjake: Great link - fascinating stuff!
posted by Chunder at 7:55 AM on January 24, 2005


You mean yelling and cursing, with sporadic hitting of the keyboard and monitor?


Like this? It's an oldy, buy it's still a fave.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:55 AM on January 24, 2005


To me, the original 'Big Brother' ad was ironic, not iconic.

If you bought an IBM PC in 1984, it came with manuals that showed you how to open the case and change or add hardware. The manuals contained a complete source code listing of the ROM BIOS, as well as schematics, bus timing diagrams, and other helpful information. This was a system that was designed to be tinkered with, and IBM was more than willing to help you. Third party tools such as Turbo Pascal made it easy to develop software for it.

If you bought a Mac in 1984, it had a sticker on the case telling you that if you opened it up, you voided your warranty. You would also have needed a special tool to open it, but there wasn't much reason to, since it was a non-expandable system.

If you wanted to develop software for the Mac, you had to pay Apple big bucks to join their developer program before you could get source code and API information for the BIOS. There were no third-party software development tools because of Apple's restrictive licensing of their BIOS.

So who was more like Big Brother in 1984 -- IBM or Apple?
posted by wadefranklin at 8:07 AM on January 24, 2005 [1 favorite]


Damn you Boost!!!
Now what am I gonna do with this leftover, mint-in-box Tucker Carlson joke I've got kicking around here?
posted by spilon at 8:15 AM on January 24, 2005


Or did Apple zealots predate the MacIntosh? [sic]

Are you kidding? All of us Apple II geeks were convinced that whatever Apple did would be the greatest thing ever. The only difference was, there was no Internet on which we could annoy people about it back then. IBM, not Microsoft, was the enemy back then.

1984 was the beginning of the end for the Apple II, though we didn't realize it at the time. We expected Apple would continue manufacturing two, even three or four lines of mutually incompatible machines (Apple II, III, Lisa, Mac) indefinitely, and upgrading each as technology advanced. After all, the preceding year had seen the introduction of the IIe, and 1984 itself saw the introduction of the IIc. But then the IIgs came out and they didn't advertise it despite the fact that it was their best-selling and most profitable machine. Clearly they were selling to their installed base and not seeking to grow the Apple II market. All that money was going into R&D for the Mac. It pissed a lot of us off. To be fair to Apple, they continued selling Apple IIs until (IIRC) 1993, which is far longer than anyone had any right to expect.

Many of us got over it, and are Mac users today.
posted by kindall at 8:17 AM on January 24, 2005


So who was more like Big Brother in 1984 -- IBM or Apple?

IBM, of course. If you wanted an open machine to tinker with, you bought an Apple IIe. IBM was a slow-moving corporation famous for making its employees dress alike. They had initially completely missed the entire personal computer thing, even ridiculed it, and their hardware and OS was not remotely clever or interesting, basically warmed-over CP/M. Good lord, the standard configuration didn't even have graphics! That cost extra! No true hacker would touch it.

Of course, the IBM PC had three things that made it the standard. The letter "I," the letter "B," and the letter "M." Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM, and it became the business standard, which gave them a foot in the door of the home computer market as well.
posted by kindall at 8:24 AM on January 24, 2005


No true hacker would touch it.

What about the hacker who created Turbo Pascal, one of the greatest hacks of all time?

In 1984, I was making a comfortable living writing graphics software for the IBM PC using Turbo Pascal. By 1984, the CGA graphics interface was standard, and the EGA appeared soon after. With color, something the Mac didn't have for years.

The perception among some was that no true hacker would touch the IBM PC. The reality was that hacker culture thrived on it - as opposed to the non-hackable original Mac. Look today at many of the fruits of hacker culture -- high-speed graphics boards, first-person-shooter games, cryptographic software, Linux, etc. -- and ask how many of them originated on the PC, and how many on the Mac.

The Mac is a closed culture to this day. If you want to run Macintosh software, there is only one company from which you can buy the computer. Every time somebody has tried to clone the Mac, Apple has driven them out of business.
posted by wadefranklin at 8:35 AM on January 24, 2005


I know it's hard to believe, even after I've mentioned it twice, but Apple used to make other machines besides the Macintosh. In 1984 the Mac was an anomaly, a blip; many of us expected they'd stop selling it in a couple of years after it failed. Who knew that they'd invest basically all of their Apple II profits into the machine for a decade?

People who hacked on IBM hardware were, by definition, not seen as true hackers. They were only in it for the money, because nobody could love the IBM platform. It was not an elegant design in the slightest. IBM was a johnny-come-lately; they had missed out on all the fun. Worse, they'd worn a fucking suit to the party!

And let's not forget that as much as Apple hated clones, IBM hated it even more. The difference was, they couldn't stop it, because they had stupidly made their machine out of off-the-shelf parts that anyone could buy, including the OS. This was because they gave the PC design basically no budget and treated them as second-class citizens until they basically couldn't ignore the personal computer market any longer. They didn't succeed because they were more "open." The Apple II was just as open. Indeed, they failed: IBM lost the PC market to the cloners. It was only when Lou Gerstner took over the company that they became a major force in the PC marketplace again with the ThinkPad.

You have to remember, when the IBM PC came out, Apple had basically all of the business personal computing market. They had the first killer app, Visicalc, on their platform. People bought Apple IIs just to run it. And then they bought Videx Videoterm cards so they could run it in 80 columns. (Or maybe an Ultraterm card. 132 columns!) The competition was not between the PC and the Mac for the PC's whole first decade.
posted by kindall at 9:00 AM on January 24, 2005


I'm not a Mac user anymore, but I still thought it was cool to read some of the history here - including stories about Jobs' cheesy jokes and how the commercial almost got cancelled.
posted by monkeystronghold at 9:03 AM on January 24, 2005


Consider that Jobs's oft-stated goal was to turn computers into appliances -- make them as easy to operate as a toaster, he's said. While a few hackers like to mod everything from microwaves to TiVos, the vast majority of people never open the box. A machine's hackability is overwhelmingly important to a very few people; if, on the other hand, a machine must be hacked in order to operate it, very few people will be able to use it. (This is something Linux advocates often forget.)

Don't forget how many people still live in terror of their computers, and how small a percentage of the population actually used them in 1984 compared to today.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:04 AM on January 24, 2005


Regarding the gender Sam could be either a boy or a girl right? ;) Thanks for the link to the story behind that intro monkeystronghold.
posted by dabitch at 10:51 AM on January 24, 2005


All I know is, that woman with the hammer....mmmm-mmmm....
posted by alumshubby at 5:55 PM on January 24, 2005


Every time somebody has tried to clone the Mac, Apple has driven them out of business.

That's not true. In 1995 Apple launched a clone program. It didn't work that well for them, so they discontinued it. You can read all about it in the Wikipedia article on the Apple clone program.
posted by svenni at 9:56 PM on January 24, 2005


I just made that drinking joke the other when talking to a friend... I thought I was so witty then. Now I"m just cliche
posted by Kempt at 6:16 PM on January 25, 2005


I could say something clever but why bother. That fucker Jobs will be selling me another goddamned overpriced computer in another year or so.
posted by nanojath at 7:52 PM on February 23, 2005


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