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Steve Jobs and the Apple "1984" Ad

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Thirty six years ago today, January 24, 1984, Apple Computers aired the commercial, "1984" to introduce the Apple Macintosh personal computer. The only national airing of the commercial was during a break in the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on CBS. It was produced by New York production company Fairbanks Films, and directed by Ridley Scott. The commercial spot was originally conceived by Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas and Lee Clow at Chiat\Day. English athlete Anya Major performed as the unnamed heroine and David Graham as Big Brother. Here is the original commercial as it aired during the 1984 Super Bowl:

In one interpretation of the commercial, "1984" used the unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh (indicated by her white tank top with a stylized line drawing of Apple’s Macintosh computer on it) as a means of saving humanity from "conformity". These images were an allusion to George Orwell's noted novel, "Nineteen Eighty-Four", which described a dystopian future ruled by a televised "Big Brother".

Originally a subject of contention within Apple, it was never aired after the original TV spot. However, it has subsequently been called a watershed event and a masterpiece in advertising. In 1995, The Clio Awards added it to its Hall of Fame, and Advertising Age placed it on the top of its list of 50 greatest commercials. Here is the clip with more background on the famous ad:

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