November 18, 2011

Evolution of Apple Ads 1975-2002.

Fascinating. It's nice accompaniment for reading the Steve Jobs biography.
One of his pet peeves was Newton, the handheld personal digital assistant that boasted handwriting recognition capability. It was not quite as bad as the jokes and Doonesbury comic strip made it seem, but Jobs hated it. He disdained the idea of having a stylus or pen for writing on a screen. “God gave us ten styluses,” he would say, waving his fingers. “Let’s not invent another.” In addition, he viewed Newton as John Sculley’s one major innovation, his pet project. That alone doomed it in Jobs’s eyes.

“You ought to kill Newton,” he told Amelio one day by phone. It was a suggestion out of the blue, and Amelio pushed back. “What do you mean, kill it?” he said. “Steve, do you have any idea how expensive that would be?”

“Shut it down, write it off, get rid of it,” said Jobs. “It doesn’t matter what it costs. People will cheer you if you got rid of it.” 
Here's the classic Doonesbury cartoon with the memorable phrase — featured in Business Week and the NYT — "egg freckles."

28 comments:

traditionalguy said...

I loved the ad that said, "If you're a hack, you'll still be a hack, only faster."

Peter said...

The overall trend (other than the bits & bytes mentioned in the earliest ads) seems to have gone from "Here's what you could do with oen of these" to "You'd be so cool with one of these"?

Salamandyr said...

"Here's what you could do with oen of these" to "You'd be so cool with one of these"?

And therein lies my dislike of Apple.

MadisonMan said...

The Apple modems! 300 and 1200 baud.

Good riddance to that speed.

F said...

Doonesbury's writer is clever, but his politics are so reliably ultra-left that I can no longer read the strip. He does have a way of capturing something in a pithy manner, but I get tired of his constant left-wing rant.

27183 said...

As soon as I develop the Jobsian ability to see through my fingers, I will agree with the statement that we have ten styluses.

prairie wind said...

"Here's what you could do with oen of these" to "You'd be so cool with one of these"?

I'm with Salamandyr.

Macs say to the user, "You're an idiot, so we will make the decision for you." PCs say, "You look like a smart cookie. You'll figure it out." I pick door #2.

edwardroyce said...

I have a friend who is a real ipad fanatic with this same opinion.

Then I invited him to use his ipad during lunch. With fried chicken. And french fries. And onion rings.

And no napkins. :)

Steven said...

There's a reason artists use Wacom stylus-based interfaces for computer input rather than their fingers on large capacitive touchpads. Just like there's a reason we use pencils and pens on paper instead of finger-painting. The difference between the maximum resolution of the human eye and the maximum resolution of the human finger is substantial.

A content creator's tablet needs real stylus support, not the finger-or-fat-stylus nonsense of the current iPad. The iPad will either add such support—or be destroyed by subsidized devices optimized to consume content, produced by content sellers like Amazon.

E.M. Davis said...

A content creator's tablet needs real stylus support, not the finger-or-fat-stylus nonsense of the current iPad. The iPad will either add such support—or be destroyed by subsidized devices optimized to consume content, produced by content sellers like Amazon.

I agree with the basic sentiment, however, I will note my son has gone through 18 Nintendo DS styluses.

Getting them is easy. Keeping them around is hard.

E.M. Davis said...

Macs say to the user, "You're an idiot, so we will make the decision for you." PCs say, "You look like a smart cookie. You'll figure it out." I pick door #2.

You're misunderstanding the Apple business proposition.

I'm not a mechanic. I just want a car that gets me from A to B. Same concept.

E.M. Davis said...

A content creator's tablet needs real stylus support, not the finger-or-fat-stylus nonsense of the current iPad. The iPad will either add such support—or be destroyed by subsidized devices optimized to consume content, produced by content sellers like Amazon.

Again. Missing the purpose of the iPad.

It's not for specialists.

I have a wacom tablet connected to my 27" iMac for doing "content creation"

However, I've drawn some pretty nifty things on my iPad using my God-given stylus.

Chuck66 said...

Nothing says space age computing more than your monitor being a 13 inch mechanical tuner TV.

And the cassette tapes. I vaguely recall them being used for computers. Not sure what they were used for, but at least they didn't use 78 RPM records for data.

Ann Althouse said...

"Macs say to the user, "You're an idiot, so we will make the decision for you." PCs say, "You look like a smart cookie. You'll figure it out." I pick door #2."

No, the Mac approach assumes you have something un-computer-related to do with your computer. Computers for people who do computer things... what a distraction. I want the machine to dissolve just like I don't want to think about my brain when I'm thinking. I'm here to write about things not fuss with how the machine works.

Salamandyr said...

Cassette tapes could be used for storage. They were the floppy disks of the day, or rather, an admirable re-direction of existing technology.

Rose said...

Who uses an Apple computer?

THOUSANDS of people....


LOL, in one of those early ads... we're well past thousands now, and to rip off another ad campaign from back then, "I'd rather fight than switch!"

Salamandyr said...

"the Mac approach assumes you have something un-computer-related to do with your computer. "

You could get the same thing putting OSX on a generic desktop for a fraction of the price.

The genius of the computer is that it's merely the medium upon which the important work gets done. The hardware is irrelevant, the software, that is the important thing. The Apple approach is to obfuscate that as much as possible, the better to sell their 500 dollar laptops for 2000 dollars.

MadisonMan said...

No, the Mac approach assumes you have something un-computer-related to do with your computer

Hush althouse. Prairie wind is a smart cookie and knows what's best.

Larry J said...

And the cassette tapes. I vaguely recall them being used for computers. Not sure what they were used for, but at least they didn't use 78 RPM records for data.

In the early days, floppy disk drives were expensive and hard drives were very expensive if available at all*. People needed a cheap way to store data and cassettes were the answer. They were very slow, unreliable and only had sequential access. Still, that was how you could save your work so that it didn't disappear when you turned off your computer.

*Today, you can buy a terrabyte hard drive for $100 or less. Back around 1981, a 20 megabyte hard drive cost hundreds of dollars.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

The Simpsons did a great Newton joke; when bully Dolph tried to write a reminder to "Beat up Martin" it was interpreted by the Newton as "Eat up Martha". So Kearney took the Newton and bounced it off of Martin's head.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Jr4CdTSRWI

Robt C said...

Makes me think back to the "Fat Mac" I got in '84. 'Loaded' with numeric keypad, two floppies, wide printer, 1200 baud modem. No hard drive. About $3,300 ($7,000 today). I just checked the specs -- my Dell 64 bit has about 120,000 times faster CPU, 12,000 times more RAM, etc. For about 1/7 the price. Boy does Apple sell for a premium!

Kevin Walsh said...

Note the misspelling of Kandinsky. These guys were computer geeks, not necessarily art lovers.

Steven said...

Again. Missing the purpose of the iPad.

It's not for specialists.


No, I'm not missing that. I'm just writing the iPad off if it tries to remain a generalist in the long run. A single-vendor platform can't out-generalist a multi-vendor platform in the long run. It's the classic disruption from below scenario. Apple will have to retreat to a niche or be obliterated.

The obvious niche to retreat to is to add more specialist creation tools to the device in addition to the dual cameras. Which means abandoning the anti-stylus position of Jobs, and instead coming up with some really, really good supplemental stylus support in iOS version 7 or so for the iPad 3 or 4.

EDH said...

The ad touting Pascal programing language on the Apple II brought back memories.

I first learned to program using Pascal on an Apple II.

Iapetus said...

The earlier the ad, the more humor and intelligence, I think. And some of them even included a bit of technospeak, as if Apple actually believed its potential customers were intelligent. Compare that with the ads Apple runs today. They are style and gloss. The Apple on-line store's Web pages for the iPad, for instance, tell you what you can do with the device, which is good as far as it goes. However, before I buy one I'd like to know more about the tech specs and the underlying technology. To find that kind of info you really have to search. Any mention of "Flash memory"? Never heard of it. What do I do if my battery dies? How do I replace it? Nada. Why has this important information disappeared or been deep-sixed when it costs Apple virtually nothing to make it available on the Web? I just have to think Apple has a much lower opinion of its customers today than it did when it was a struggling start-up trying to survive. (And I'm typing this from a very stud-like Mac Pro workstation.)

Suburbanbanshee said...

"You have ten styluses. And if you have long fingernails on your styluses, well, that's an icky redneck girl thing."

E.M. Davis said...

The obvious niche to retreat to is to add more specialist creation tools to the device in addition to the dual cameras. Which means abandoning the anti-stylus position of Jobs, and instead coming up with some really, really good supplemental stylus support in iOS version 7 or so for the iPad 3 or 4.


I also have a stylus for my iPad. Works great. Next?

E.M. Davis said...

The genius of the computer is that it's merely the medium upon which the important work gets done. The hardware is irrelevant, the software, that is the important thing. The Apple approach is to obfuscate that as much as possible, the better to sell their 500 dollar laptops for 2000 dollars.

I'll give you that, but there's a big difference when you feel a MacBook Pro in your hands as compared to a Lenovo ThinkPad. There's a definitive quality difference. Definitely not truly worth the $$$ difference. Same thing with the iMac: that 27" screen kicks ass and it looks like artwork on a desk rather than a computer.