Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Live-blogging an Apple Lisa commercial from 1983

Christopher Phin | Aug. 12, 2015
Even outside the Apple community, Apple's "1984" ad is both famous and iconic--despite being shown nationwide only once, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. But on the CD-ROMs that came with my Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, I found an ad called "1983," and it's quite something. So in the spirit of the Super Bowl, let's do a play-by-play.

kevin costner lisa commercial apple

Even outside the Apple community, Apple's "1984" ad is both famous and iconic--despite being shown nationwide only once, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. But on the CD-ROMs that came with my Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, I found an ad called "1983," and it's quite something. So in the spirit of the Super Bowl, let's do a play-by-play.

00:00 Geez, this thing is tiny. I'd forgotten how physically tiny movies used to be. At 320×240, it looks utterly comical on my 5K iMac.

00:01 Okay, what do we have here? Dude on a bike. At sunset. Or sunrise. Dusk, anyway. Crepuscular. Great word!

00:02 Is that piano supposed to sound awful? Like, did they spend ages in studio and in software to achieve that distinctive "box of nails resting on the strings" effect, or is that just an artefact of the recording and encoding?

00:03 An edit! Exciting! I mean, sure it's just a cross-dissolve to a slightly zoomed in version of the same scene, but still.

00:04 Wait! A dog! Hi, pup!

00:11 All ad voiceovers used to sound like this, didn't they?

00:14 Hey, mop guy! You wanna actually dip that mop in some water, bud. Or maybe this is some special polishing manoeuvre? Nah, there's definitely a mop bucket there. Bloody amateur. No, wait, he's an actor, isn't he, not a cleaner. So it's the director who's an amateur. Anyway, amateurism of some sort is happening here.

00:20 Dog again! This dog has more personality than the humans, and is acting everyone else off the screen. I shall call him Rufus, for no particular reason.

00:21 Switch the lights on, dude. You might get away with that in a different decade, but surely you can't see anything at dusk with all that black ash furniture.

00:30 A Lisa!

00:32 That's not how you use a mouse! I wonder if whoever was on set literally didn't know how a mouse was operated--it was the first time Apple had included one, and was one of the first commercial mice in the broader market--or if they just thought that nobody watching the ad would be able to understand or even see what it was if it was covered by a hand.

00:34 "At Apple, we understand that..." Wait, hang on, is that dude...?

00:36 Oh Rufus, you big doofus. Look at those pawsies! Apple appears to have learned the trick of using cute animals in ads for unrelated products. 

00:39 Nope, still not how you use a mouse. Anyway, I was saying, is that...?

 

1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.