Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Macintosh Saves the World?

On January 24, 1984, Apple introduced Macintosh. Macintosh would launch a new philosophy toward computing, one that would eventually lead to the ubiquity of computers and proliferation of mobile computing.

The advertisement that launched this new product was nothing short of striking, profound, and groundbreaking. Some consider it to be the most effective television advertisement ever conceived.

The commercial was directed by Ridley Scott, who had recently directed Alien (1979) and clearly adapted thematic elements from the film to the Macintosh commercial.

In the first 10 seconds of the ad, we immediately get a sense of the world that Scott has created. It is bleak, monochromatic, orderly, and authoritarian. At the time, it was thought that this world was an allusion to the current business leader of computing – IBM – a company that was known for its strict standards that even applied to the style of ties that employees could wear. In sharp contrast is the heroine. She is the only female in the commercial and committed to rousing the proletarians.

The ad concludes with a reference to Orwell’s 1984. The implication is that Macintosh will ‘save’ us from the conformity and tyranny offered by Apple’s competitors. Clearly, Apple is making a profound statement and they did it in just 60 seconds.

Has Apple changed the world? What would the technological landscape look like without Macintosh?

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