A YouTube video from “The Today Show” broadcast in January 1994 has been making the rounds (but was pulled down by user on Feb 2). It shows co-host Bryant Gumbel asking this question: “What is the Internet?”
Katie Couric says, “It’s really big,” though she, too, doesn’t have a clue.
It’s easy to laugh at that now but back then the Internet had yet to hit the Big Time. To play loose with the facts, the Internet didn’t hit the mainstream until August 1995 when Netscape debuted its initial public offering. The Netscape browser brought Web surfing to the masses and, more importantly, its IPO proved that this new fangled Internet thing could attract public financing. On the first day of trading Netscape shares soared 168% before settling back. It fueled a tech-stock frenzy and forever changed the world. The Netscape browser dominated through the 1990s until that 800-pound gorilla Microsoft came along and squashed it like a cockroach.
But let’s go back further, to Apple’s famous “1984” commercial, which introduced the groundbreaking Macintosh computer for the first time.
This is my favorite commercial of all time and is considered the most famous Super Bowl commercial ever (Sorry, Budweiser frogs). The commercial has a fascinating story. It was directed by Ridley Scott, who had recently finished the sci-fi masterpiece “Blade Runner.” It was the one and only time, during the Super Bowl, that the ad would run and it still became a legend. It received an additional $150 million in media value as the subject of commentary on ABC, CBS, NBC and more, writes Steve Hayden for Adweek. Hayden wrote the copy for the commercial, created by Chiat/Day.
The Adweek story was picked up by Business Insider, which uncovered that Apple’s board of directors hated the ad so much they order it killed from then on. Go figure.
For a little more eye candy, here is a video of Steve Jobs at a Fall 1983 Apple Computer show debuting the ad in a keynote speech. The Macintosh would also change the world.
And thanks for the memories, Apple and Netscape. It’s been a super wild ride ever since.