Two days before Super Bowl LVIII, The New York Times reminded us that it‘s been forty years since Apple made advertising history with the 1984 Super Bowl ad introducing Macintosh.
This year also marks a related milestone—it is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Apple’s last Super Bowl appearance, built around the menacing computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. By no means was Apple’s HAL a 1984-sized triumph, but neither was it a Lemmings-sized disaster. It was a spot that Steve Jobs was very much proud of, and had no regrets spending millions to run on the Super Bowl.
With the Big Game’s thrills still hanging in the air, I thought this was a good time to re-publish the story I wrote seven years ago. It’s the story of Apple’s HAL, from start to finish, and a bit beyond. If you have the time—and trust me, you’ll need it—it’s a fun bit of Apple history. Enjoy!
You never knew exactly how Steve Jobs would react when you presented a new idea. The only thing you could count on was his brutal honesty.
But, even if he rejected the work, all was not lost. It was simply part of the process. Steve knew that creative work is often iterative, so we’d keep at it until we arrived at a place we all loved. It was a process that actually deepened our relationship over time.
That said, one meeting is seared into my brain because Steve made a particularly biting comment. Not seeing anything he liked in a range of work, he said, “Oh, so you put the B-team on this one.”
In those few words, he questioned how seriously we took the assignment, not to mention our ability to see the difference between “great” and “good enough.” Message received loud and clear. An error in judgment never repeated.
This memory came to the fore because that’s exactly how Apple’s Halloween Eve event made me feel—like the assignment had been relegated to the B-team.
Okay, it took me forever, but I finally got around to watching the 2023 iPhone event.
Why so long? It’s all Apple’s fault. The more they announce new products in these prepackaged events, the less I feel like watching.
My viewing did not change my opinion of virtual presentations. Instead, in an odd way, it got me thinking about the power of AI. Not that Apple used AI. to generate the script—rather that AI could have written the script, and few would have noticed.
That’s because what Apple is doing is exactly what AI is so good at. They’re writing a script based on the show before. And the one before that. And the one before that. They’re stuck in a loop where a parade of presenters describe new products, minus any emotional connection.
ChatGBT wouldn’t break a sweat pulling that together.
Love or loathe Bill Gates, one must admit—the man is a part of technology history. His lifetime accomplishments are many.
Which makes it all the more inexplicable that his inner Santos insists on some outlandish resume embellishment.
Weighing in on AI with his blog article, The Age of AI has begun, Bill puts AI in context. He sees it as one of two revolutionary demos he’s seen in his lifetime. This is how he describes the first.
“[It] was in 1980, when I was introduced to a graphical user interface—the forerunner of every modern operating system, including Windows. I sat with the person who had shown me the demo, a brilliant programmer named Charles Simonyi, and we immediately started brainstorming about all the things we could do with such a user-friendly approach to computing. Charles eventually joined Microsoft, Windows became the backbone of Microsoft, and the thinking we did after that demo helped set the company’s agenda for the next 15 years.”
Impressive! Who else but Bill Gates could spot the potential in this graphical interface thing and develop the software to help us do all that amazing future-y stuff?
Oh, right. That other guy. Steve something-or-other, was it?
This calls for some serious fact checking. So I now turn to our dependable old friend, Reality.
One thing Apple unveiled in its recent Spring Forward event was enough to make me believe in miracles.
After nearly six frustrating years—six years!—one of the company’s most inexplicable design blunders was finally corrected.
Hello, new Siri Remote.
The shock got me digging into the past to examine Apple’s track record when it comes to fixing things that need fixing. Sorry to say, it isn’t pretty.
Here’s a look back at the more notable Apple mistakes—and how long they went uncorrected.
Damn, HomePod mini looked pretty great in Apple’s unveiling last week.
They had me from the first image where it sat elegantly on the side table. Simple. Clean. Not a cord in sight!
It was my ultimate music-player-intelligent-assistant fantasy come true. A gorgeous device I could put absolutely anywhere.
Until it wasn’t.
Silly me. I made the unforgivable error of believing my eyes. At the very end of that scene, for just the briefest moment, came a glimpse of a cord trailing away from mini.
From there, Apple took us on a winding path visually, with the vast majority of shots showing a “cordless” HomePod mini. A casual viewer could be forgiven for drawing the wrong conclusion.
Out of curiosity, I went back for a re-viewing.