The date was set for January 24, 1984, two days after the Ridley Scott-directed TV commercial introducing the idea of the Macintosh would appear during the Super Bowl between the Washington Redskins and the Los Angeles Raiders. Steve Jobs would unveil what he came to call Apple’s “insanely great” personal computer “for the rest of us.”
The day couldn’t come fast enough. While its flagship Apple II was selling well, the Apple III had flopped. What’s more, few businesses were willing to pay $10,000 for Apple’s Lisa, which debuted in June 1983.
And a bigger threat loomed: IBM, a relative latecomer to the personal computer business, was building momentum. Big Blue and the PC clone makers had sold more than a million PCs that year, roughly three times the number of Apple II machines. When Lotus 1-2-3, a spreadsheet for the PC, racked up over $50 million in sales in 1983 — an enormous sum in those days for computer software — it underscored the computer’s transformation from hobby appliance to a mainstream business tool. Unfortunately for Apple, most of those computers were being sold by its archrival.
It was up to the Macintosh to save Apple and, in Jobs’ point of view, mankind from the clutches of IBM. In many ways, it has been mission accomplished for the Mac, which defined and powered Apple for years before the iPod, iPhone and iPad came along, and which remains, in its newest incarnations, a significant member of the family. Meanwhile, as Apple has flourished in the mainstream of personal computing, IBM has gone in other directions, its PC division long ago sold off to China’s Lenovo.
But for Apple, this was no overnight success story.
Saving the world from IBM
As the launch date neared, Steve Jobs and his band of self-styled pirates still had major work to do, including convincing the sales force that they had built a product that would fly off the shelves. During a sales conference in Honolulu on October 23, 1983, Jobs previewed the now famous “1984” commercial and characterized Apple’s mission as a battle with IBM for the future of computing.
“It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers initially welcoming IBM with open arms now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?”
source:Farber, Dan. “The Macintosh Turns 30: Going the Distance.” CNET News. CBS Interactive, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. <http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57616252-37/the-macintosh-turns-30-going-the-distance/>.