The Apple Macintosh turns 30

BY Justin Scuiletti  January 24, 2014 at 5:59 PM EST

An advertisement, directed by Ridley Scott, aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVII on Jan. 22, 1984. The visuals on the screen cut between a woman running with a sledgehammer, police in riot gear giving chase and lines of people marching in unison under a giant video screen of Big Brother praising a “Unification of Thoughts.”

Before she can be stopped, the runner reaches the screen, spins several times, then hurls her sledge at Big Brother’s face, shattering the image. Then came the voiceover:

“On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”

Standing 14 inches tall and equipped with a 9 inch monitor, an accompanying keyboard and mouse, and a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive, the first Macintosh made its debut on Jan. 24, 1984. The “Mac,” as it came to be known, touted itself as an alternative to then-industry juggernaut IBM — offering a user-friendly interface and a “modest price” of $2,495.
Steve Jobs, introduced the computer as what he called “the third industry milestone product,” pumped up the “high definition, super crisp, bitmap 9-inch black and white screen” saying that people would “have to see this display to believe it. It’s incredible.”

The original Macintosh computer. Photo by Flickr user Matthew Pearce

The original Macintosh computer. Photo by Flickr user Matthew Pearce

Los Angeles Times tech reviewer Larry Magid wrote about his first experience turning on the new Mac in the Jan. 29, 1984 edition of the paper:

Once you’ve set up your machine, you insert the main system disk, turn on the power, and in a minute you are presented with the introductory screen. Apple calls it your “desk top”. What you see on your screen looks a lot like what you might find on a desk. Instead of just a blinking cursor you see pictures, called icons, that graphically represent the things you can do with the computer. One of them is a picture of a hand, writing on a piece of paper. That represents the MacWrite word processing program. Another shows a hand drawing on paper to represent the MacPaint graphics program. Other options are represented by equally clever icons. Any files that you have created are also graphically depicted on your electronic “desk top.”

The Mac, while not outselling IBM, would go on to sell 70,000 units by May 3, 1984. Its successor, the Macintosh 512K, was released in September of that year, followed by a continuing line of new Macs throughout the years, from iMacs to Macbooks to the most recent Mac Pro, due for release in February.