The first Mac’s speechwriter, unmasked!

January 24th was the 35th anniversary of Macintosh, bless its little soul.

In reading a number of articles, I got to enjoy the original Macintosh intro event all over again. It’s a vivid reminder that Steve Jobs’ showmanship and obsession with detail was in full bloom way back at the beginning.

One of the those details was “the speech.” (About 3:05 into the video.). Steve wanted to have the first Mac to speak for itself—

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I’d like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM mainframe: NEVER TRUST A COMPUTER YOU CAN’T LIFT! Obviously, I can talk, but right now I’d like to sit back and listen. So, it is with considerable pride that I introduce a man who’s been like a father to me… Steve Jobs.

That made me smile, and it got me wondering: who actually wrote these words. Steve? One of his minions?

Instinct led me to suspect another Steve—Steve Hayden, then a Chiat/Day creative director and author of the iconic 1984 Macintosh launch ad. He’s also the guy who gave me my start on the Apple business.

Though I haven’t worked with Steve for many years, I still enjoy squeezing info out of him from time to time. So I had to ask: Did you do it? His answer—

Yes, I did write the Mac’s first speech. Susan Kare called me in a panic saying I should just “throw something together to prove it can do speech” and telling me the deadline was half an hour or so. … I faxed it to her from LA — email was a little too new for Chiat/Day. She called back immediately and said they loved it, no revisions.

Played better than I thought, because the jokes were pure cornball, but then the novelty of a talking computer bailed us out. In any case, it’s a very fond memory… thanks for asking…

So there you have it. A full confession.

In case you weren’t aware, Hayden’s credentials go far beyond even the 1984 spot. He’s responsible for creating the Apple tone of voice—the “intelligent wit” at the core of Apple advertising for decades. That’s incalculably huge.

Following his Apple years, Hayden went on to lead IBM’s advertising team, ultimately becoming Vice Chairman of Ogilvy North America. Yes, he was even hawking computers you can’t lift.

But let’s forgive that little (18-year) transgression. In the pantheon of Apple advertising, no one stands quite as tall as Steve Hayden.