You might have heard that the Macintosh turns 40 today, as everyone has spent the past few weeks celebrating Apple’s legendary computer.
Introduced in 1984, the Mac didn’t come with any technological breakthrough but its simple, user-friendly interface was a turning point in the history of computing, making computers finally accessible to laypeople.
Back then, computers didn’t sell in the numbers we’re used to today, like millions of units shipped in 24 hours, but the Mac did reach an incredible 70000 early buyers.
Why? It’s probably because Apple spent about $2.5 million in today’s money to air a SuperBowl ad, and that ad itself was an incredible piece of cinema made by none other than Ridley Scott, Blade Runner’s director.
Have you ever seen a better commercial than this? I think not.
The clip, positioning Mac as the underdog ready to take a swipe at the totalitarian IBM, was the first time the Mac was tied to cinema. Curious to see what other movies the original Mac showed up in?
Needless to say, the Mac is a cult classic and has hundreds of movie appearances but, for your convenience, here are the coolest of them.
If you’re looking to watch something with a Mac in it, just to pay homage to the incredible machine, try streaming one of these – some are tech movies, some are simply just great movies.
The Net: The 1995 Sandra Bullock thriller
When you think about hacker movies, you think about Hackers, Johnny Mnemonic and, if you’re the forgiving type, 1995’s The Net featuring Sandra Bullock.
Bullock’s character is quickly established as a computer hacker / expert and, to do so, you’re shown she casually has an old Macintosh computer on a desk. Since it’s 95, she obviously doesn’t use it because by that point the tech was obsolete, but the Macintosh does give her street cred.
Unfortunately for this movie, it decides to become a romantic thriller and discards the tech element halfway through, otherwise it would have been an absolute unmissable gem of a film. Still, it’s a classic and it has a classic Macintosh, so it bears a rewatch!
Daemon: 1985 movie
What if the Macintosh didn’t say Hello but instead said creepy things? Daemon, a little-known TV movie from 1985, uses the classic Macintosh as a prop for evil. The movie follows Nick, who generously received Macintosh as a gift from his parents, and now has to deal with it saying very scary things.
You can stream Daemon, the 1985 TV movie for free on YouTube.
The Ray Bradbury Theater – Season 1, Episode 1, “Marionettes, Inc.” from 1985
Also from 85 is the fantastic first episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater, back when, you know, scifi authors were actually stars and got to introduce their work.
In this particular episode, a chilling story that any scifi fan should know, you’ll see a Macintosh used by the main character at the office.
Quite a good company he worked for, to buy workers the latest tech! Is it a case of Apple’s fantastic product placement or of having a director really in tune with what was happening in Silicon Valley? I don’t know but I bet there’s a good story there.
And the best part is that you can watch the episode free on YouTube. Actually, you can stream the whole series for free!
Halt and Catch Fire Season 1, Episode 9
The show chronicles the invention of a new computer, not a Mac, but has an episode where a character actually ends up watching a demonstration of Apple’s new Macintosh. Very cool stuff!
If you didn’t own a Mac back then but want to see which movies featured your machine, James Carter’s Starring the Computer collection is a fantastic resource. Do consider donating if you love computer history!
And if you want to watch more about the history of Apple, tune in to the Computer History Museum show and see what some key early Apple employees have to say about it.
Here’s what their event promises:
“Insanely Great: The Apple Mac @ 40” celebrates one of the most iconic and impactful products ever created. It brings together key members of the original hardware, software, design, marketing, and PR teams, including Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Andy Cunningham, Andy Hertzfeld, Bruce Horn, Susan Kare, Dan’l Lewin, and Mike Murray.
Insiders and experts such as Chris Espinosa, Guy Kawasaki, and Steven Levy will participate in a conversation about the enduring impact of the Mac. Journalist and author David Pogue will moderate the panel discussions. Guests arriving early will have the opportunity to visit CHM’s mini pop-up exhibit, curated for the anniversary.”
What about you, did you read or see a Mac retrospective these days that more people should know about?