What product does this ad from Apple introduce? “If You Can Point, You Can Use a____”. the iPad would be a fair guess, but its actually for the introduction of the Mac. How well does the iPad fulfill the goals in the series of ads from 1984?
“Its probable safe to assume, at this point, that you can point. And having mastered the oldest known method of making yourself understood, you’ve also mastered using the most sophisticated business computer yet developed”
The above headline and quote is from an Apple ad insert introducing a brand new product. Judging from the headline the iPad would be a fair guess, but its actually for the introduction of the Mac. Apple bought all the ad space in the November 1984 issue of Newsweek to introduce the Macintosh, the mouse and the graphical user interface to the world. More so than the legendary Macintosh 1984 Super Bowl TV ad the Newsweek ads detailed the purpose and focus of the Mac. It let Apple spell out its vision for computing. With hindsight we can compare how well the Mac met its promises, and if the iPad actually is the fulfillment the goals.
“A Natural Way to Pick Up, Hold and Move Objects”
“To tell a Macintosh Personal Computer what you want to do, you simply move the mouse until you’re pointing at the object you want. Then click the button on top of the mouse, and you instantly begin working with that object”. The ingenious idea of having metaphorical representations of data and applications, and then moving them with the mouse, is actually abstracted one layer by involving the mouse. You are not being allowed to ‘hold and move objects around’. The direct touch interface introduced with the iPhone accomplishes this long stated goal. Its even more pronounced on the iPad. The iWork demo of directly grabbing and manipulating items on a document during the iPad keynote meets the stated ideal precisely. Literally by actually using your fingers it is the ” natural way”.
“Instantly Begin Working with that Object”
The ads spend 1 page introducing the desktop metaphor and 7 pages introducing apps now made possible by the graphical user interfaces. Even in 1984 it was clear that its apps that make the computer. If its all about the apps what was the purpose of the desktop metaphor? “To tell a Macintosh what to do, you simply move the mouse until you’re pointing at the object or function you want. Then click the button on top of the mouse, and you instantly begin working with that object”. It introduced a concept in reality to deal with the files, but it was soon clear that even for the most basic user a desktop metaphor was actually the office with rows of filing cabinets. “Simply move the mouse” to the file skips over the organization of files. The iPad brings dealing with files and data to its ultimate conclusion. Instead of asking the user to organize the files, it organizes it for you and brings the entire focus back to the applications. The user launches an app, and then files that only relevant to the specific app’s context are shown. Music is in the iPod app, books are in iBooks, and documents are in iWorks. Items can be shared between apps but only if relevant, and most importantly there is no concept of selecting and organizing a file. The desktop metaphor has disappeared to just getting down to work and focusing on what is possible with the applications
“A Computer Compatible with People”
“We decided there was something more than important than building a computer that’s compatible with another computer. Namely building a computer that’s compatible with people”. We’ve grown accustom to computers and laptops forming ourselves to their shape. The first mac was a friendly computer form made to resemble the human head general shape. The iPad introduces the idea of the natural computer. Its not meant to be conformed to, instead it’s built to be compatible to us. Steve jobs called the iPad the most important thing Apple has ever done. Not because its new, but because it fulfils a dream from the start of Apple.
* note : The original newsweek Apple Ad series was referenced from :