January 22, 1984: Macintosh “1984” computer commercial aired during Super Bowl XVIII
As an audience of men in gray sack uniforms stare at a vast screen where Big Brother is lecturing about the “first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives,” a female athlete carrying a sledgehammer sprints down the center aisle pursued by Thought Police in riot gear. She spins three times and hurls the hammer into the screen and Big Brother’s face disintegrates into shards of glass and a blaze of lightning.
This ad for Apple’s Macintosh computer played during the 1984 Super Bowl. It has been awarded “The Best Commercial of All Time” more than once. I’m sure its legend was only enhanced by the difficulty of ever seeing it if you weren’t watching the game. The George Orwell estate considered the commercial to be a flagrant copyright infringement and had a lawyer send a cease-and-desist letter to Apple and the Chiat/Day advertising agency a couple of months later. The commercial was not televised again for years.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]