I turned 30 this past weekend, so naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time. Looking back at the world I was born into through the lens of 2014, it really looks like ancient history (which is not exactly making me feel better about getting older). This particular anniversary also has some intriguing crossovers with design and technology that I’ve been pondering recently.
On the day that Apple is announcing its sixth version of the iPhone, it’s interesting to note that Macintosh computers also recently turned 30. Steve Jobs and Co. unveiled the world’s first mass-market personal computer, the Macintosh 128k, in 1984 via a big budget hollywood style TV commercial directed by Ridley Scott, hot off the success of “Blade Runner.” The commercial looked like it could have been a deleted scene from that famous dystopian sci-fi flick as it depicted citizens of George Orwell’s “1984”, a gray-faced society of drones, marching single file towards similarly Orwellian looking monitors to receive a light brainwashing from “Big Brother.” The heroine of the advert, a sexy metaphor for Apple’s Macintosh, rushes in to smash Big Brother’s telescreen with a sledgehammer, proclaiming that the actual year 1984 won’t be like Orwell’s grim prediction after all, thanks to the liberating power of the Mac.
There is no doubt that 30 years later, the introduction of the PC can be seen as a huge turning point in countless arenas, especially the field of graphic design. That iconic TV commercial is also rather interesting food for thought this week though as millions of people around the world are lining up to buy the latest offering from Apple, all in the age of data mining, government espionage, PRISM, targeted advertising, Google, and Facebook.
On a lighter note, here’s some snapshots of what our world looked like 30 years ago.