The "1984" Ad
In the spring of 1983, when Jobs had begun to plan for the Macintosh launch,
he asked for a commercial that was as revolutionary and astonishing as the product they had created.
"I want something that will stop people in their tracks," he said. "I want a thunderclap."
The task fell to the Chiat/Day advertising agency,
which had acquired the Apple account when it bought the advertising side of Regis McKenna's business.
The person put in charge was a lanky beach bum with a bushy beard, wild hair, goofy grin, and twinkling eyes named Lee Clow,
who was the creative director of the agency's office in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles.
Clow was savvy and fun, in a laid-back yet focused way, and he forged a bond with Jobs that would last three decades.
Clow and two of his team, the copywriter Steve Hayden and the art director Brent Thomas,
had been toying with a tagline that played off the George Orwell novel: "Why 1984 won't be like 1984."
Jobs loved it, and asked them to develop it for the Macintosh launch.
So they put together a storyboard for a sixty-second ad that would look like a scene from a sci-fi movie.
It featured a rebellious young woman outrunning the Orwellian thought police
and throwing a sledgehammer into a screen showing a mind-controlling speech by Big Brother.
The concept captured the zeitgeist of the personal computer revolution.
Many young people, especially those in the counterculture,
had viewed computers as instruments that could be used by Orwellian governments and giant corporations to sap individuality.
But by the end of the 1970s, they were also being seen as potential tools for personal empowerment.
The ad cast Macintosh as a warrior for the latter cause
a cool, rebellious, and heroic company that was the only thing standing in the way of the big evil corporation's plan for world domination and total mind control.
Jobs liked that.
Indeed the concept for the ad had a special resonance for him.
He fancied himself a rebel,
and he liked to associate himself with the values of the ragtag band of hackers and pirates he recruited to the Macintosh group.
Even though he had left the apple commune in Oregon to start the Apple corporation,
he still wanted to be viewed as a denizen of the counterculture rather than the corporate culture.