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The Apple Macintosh promotional video that never went public ... until now

Published 8 June 2019

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We may have come a long, long way since the swingin’ seventies, and a recently surfaced promo video from 1983 about the Apple Macintosh PC will give tech enthusiast and vintage computer aficionados a sense of appreciation for the miles we’ve covered. Watch Bill Gates compliment Apple and Steve Jobs on the amazing Apple Macintosh. It evokes a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era.

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As you read this article on your laptop or smartphone, you might have forgotten how about half a century ago only large corporations had the privilege of owning computers. This stark technological dynamic was flipped on its head thanks to young inventors; innovators and businessmen, like Steve Jobs; Bill Gates and so many more, who made it possible for the average Joe to own a personal computer without breaking the bank.

The vintage computers from our yesteryears may seem incredibly archaic when compared to the sleek, compact powerhouses we know today. But there is no denying the fact that the PCs of old set the stage for rapid technological progress and exponential growth in processing power that we’ve witnessed over the years. To put things into perspective, it is worth noting that your iPhone has more computing power than the computers NASA used for the Apollo 11 mission!

We may have come a long, long way since the swingin’ seventies, and a recently surfaced promo video from 1983 about the Apple Macintosh PC will give tech enthusiast and vintage computer aficionados a sense of appreciation for the miles we’ve covered as a species. It also evokes a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era.

The video never made it outside company walls, until now. Instead of being aired as the official advertisement for the Macintosh, the video became an internal promo video. It was deemed to be too self-congratulatory and though that may be the case, it allows some more insight into the motivations of some of the key members of the developing team at Apple. It is interesting to look at in hindsight because you get a glimpse of the passion the team had along with the effort that went into bringing a revolutionary idea into fruition as the very first commercially successful personal computer.

The Macintosh project was initiated in 1979 and was named after Jeff Raskin’s (Apple employee) favourite type of apple, McIntosh. In the promo video, you will see Jeff talk about the motivation behind this PC. It boiled down to the fact that there weren’t any low-cost, user-friendly computers available on the market that the average person could easily use; so, the team decided to make one.

This was an ambitious project and all the members involved were aware of the massive impact it would have on the world. Mike Murray, the marketing manager of Macintosh, states in the video that the computer would instigate a major shift in the current power dynamic where instead of corporations running people, people would end up running corporations. Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs and Software Wizard Andy Hertzfeld mirrored Murray’s sentiments and expressed that the goal of the Macintosh was to provide individuals, rather than corporations, access to technology that could help increase productivity and unleash one’s potential.

The Apple Macintosh made its debut one year after Lisa, in January 1984, and an ad was released during the Super Bowl to promote the product along with the idea behind it. Director Ridley Scott depicted Apple’s non-conformist, ‘break the mold’ attitude perfectly. The ‘1984’ commercial shows a dystopian future where Big Brother holds absolute power and technology only lies in the hands of the privileged few. This bleak narrative, reflecting George Orwell’s novel: 1984, is shattered while the Macintosh is presented as a revolutionary tool to uplift the masses.

The compact computer featured a graphical user interface, monitor, keyboard and mouse. It also came with a case that made it easy to carry. Apple faced stiff competition from IBM at the time and it is believed that the ‘Big Brother’ depicted in the 1984 commercial represents IBM. Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates, another rising star in Silicon Valley and a Mac developer at the time, went on record to say, “The next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC.” This statement seems almost unimaginable considering that soon after, Apple and Microsoft went on to become arch-rivals. If you’re interested in learning about the complex relationship and rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates during this era, check out the 1999 movie Pirates of Silicon Valley.

The Apple Macintosh became a commercial success and continued to sell for a decade. It was then discontinued in 1993. The Macintosh brand gained notoriety all around the globe and has been branded as Mac since 1998. If you’re wondering what the Macintosh could do, then you’re in luck because the promo video that has surfaced acts as a kind of instructional video, too. It shows some of the computer’s main features and what users can accomplish with it. For a generation that has lived through the transformative years, the video featuring an iconic vintage computer may feel rather nostalgic. In fact, I felt nostalgic too, which is odd because I was born in the 90s.

From humble beginnings to exponential success, it is worth noting that the multi-billion dollar company, Apple Inc., is the brainchild of a trio of brilliant young friends—Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak ‘Woz’ and Ronald Wayne—who hung out in a garage in California and shared a passion for computers, tech and changing the world. The company was incorporated in 1976 and the rest, as they say, is history. Apple’s journey sticks out from scores of others because it is an inspiring one and shows how passion, innovation and ambition can truly change the world in remarkable ways.

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