Mac 1984: Steve Jobs Revolutionizes The Art Of Corporate Storytelling

Jan 24 2014, 9:32am CST | by

On January 24, 1984, PowerPoint had yet to be invented. Apple’s presentation tool and Steve Jobssoftware of choice—Keynote—also hadn’t entered the market. Although Steve Jobs didn’t have the benefit of slides that would later define his presentation style, his introduction of the Macintosh is still considered one of the greatest product launches in business history. How did he do it? Jobs went back to the basics of storytelling: heroes, villains, and characters.

When Steve Jobs took the stage at Apple shareholders meeting at the Flint Center in Cupertino near the Apple campus, he was dressed in a double-breasted jacket and bow tie. He kicked off the presentation with a quote by his favorite musician, Bob Dylan: “The loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a changin’.” Right out of the gate the audience of more than 2,000 employees, shareholders, board members, and reporters knew they were in store for something wildly different than the standard, dry, corporate update.

Introduce the Villain. Every great story has a hero and a villain. A presentation should be no different. Steve Jobs introduced an enemy that the audience could hate; an antagonist who must meet its demise for civilization to flourish. In the 1984 show, IBM—conveniently nicknamed “Big Blue”—would play the role of the villain.

Speaking at a slow pace, in a low-pitched and dramatic voice, Steve Jobs began: “It is 1958. IBM passes up the chance to buy a fledgling company that has just invented a new technology, called Xerography. Two years later Xerox is born and IBM has been kicking itself ever since. It is 10 years later, the late 60s. Digital Equipment and others invent the mini computer. IBM dismisses the mini computer as too small to do serious computing and unimportant to their business. DEC grows to become a multi hundred million dollar corporation before IBM finally enters the mini computer market.”

Jobs’ voice grew louder, more dramatic. “It is now ten years later. The late 70s. In 1977, Apple, a young fledgling company on the west coast invents the Apple II, the first personal computer as we know it today. IBM dismisses the personal computer as too small to do serious computing and unimportant to their business.” At this point Jobs has the audience riveted. They are laughing as he builds up the dramatic tension. After walking the audience through a brief history of IBM’s entry into the personal computer market, Jobs said, “It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, originally welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom! IBM is aiming its guns to the last obstacle to industry control—Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right?”

Jobs’ introduction sounded less like a product launch and more like a rallying cry for war. People in the audience were audibly shouting “No! No!” An audience wants something to believe in, a person or movement they can rally around. They want a hero. But a hero, by definition, needs a villain to fight. The IBM character became the villain. In the Steve Jobs narrative, IBM wasn’t simply a threat to Apple. Jobs had created a classic David and Goliath battle with nothing less than the future of humanity at stake.

The next step was to further incite the audience. Jobs played the famous Ridley Scott television ad with Big Blue as a metaphor for Orwell’s Big Brother. As an announcer read the last words of the ad—“On January 24th, you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984”—the audience was going wild, hollering and cheering.

Reveal the conquering hero. The third and final step of the show was to introduce the conquering hero—Macintosh. Jobs said, “You’ve just seen pictures of Macintosh. Now I’d like to show you Macintosh in person. All of the images you are about to see on the large screen are being generated by what’s in that bag.” Jobs pointed to a canvas bag on a table in the middle of the stage. He slowly walked to the table, and pulled the nearly 17-pound machine from inside the bag. He plugged it in and, with a dramatic flourish, slowly pulled a floppy disk from his jacket pocket, inserted it into the computer, and stood aside. As the lights darkened, the theme from Chariots of Fire began to play and a series of images filled the screen (images created with MacWrite and MacPaint).

Cue the showstopper. As the music faded, Jobs had one more showstopper planned. He said, “Now, we’ve done a lot of talking about Macintosh recently, but today for the first time ever, I’d like to let Macintosh speak for itself.” On cue, Macintosh spoke in a digitized voice using a speech-generating program that had been built for the Apple II:

Hello, I am Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag. 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 right now, but I’d like to sit back and listen. So, it is with considerable pride that I introduce a man who has been like a father to me: Steve Jobs.

Letting Macintosh speak for itself was one of the most brilliant moments I’ve ever seen in a business presentation. Jobs had created what neuroscientists call an “emotionally charged event.” I simply call it a wow moment, the moment in a presentation when jaws drop to the floor—the moment everyone talks about the next day.

Former Mac evangelist Guy Kawasaki best captures the feeling Apple employees had in the auditorium that day: “Steve’s introduction of Macintosh in 1984 was a magical moment. The earth shifted on its axis a little that day. Steve took it out of its bag, and the Macintosh ‘talked’ for itself. For many of us who had not had children yet, it was the closest thing to having a baby.”

The Mac revolutionized the personal computer for the masses. It also revolutionized the art of business presentations and turned the product launch into corporate theater.

Carmine Gallo is the communication coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is a popular keynote speaker and author of several books including his new book, Talk Like TED, which reveals the 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds. Sign up for Carmine’s newsletter and follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Source: Forbes Apple

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Fitbit Not Expected To Work With Healthkit
Fitbit Not Expected To Work With Healthkit
Apple’s new health tracking App won’t connect to Fitbit devices
 
 
Retailers Dropping NFC Readers To Stop Apple Pay
Retailers Dropping NFC Readers To Stop Apple Pay
Merchants are removing support for Apple Pay
 
 
AT&amp;T Showing Lack Of Vision With New SIM Cards
AT&T Showing Lack Of Vision With New SIM Cards
The company has busted the Apple SIM cards meant for travelers
 
 
The Stores of CVS and Rite Aid Stop Supporting Apple Pay
The Stores of CVS and Rite Aid Stop Supporting Apple Pay
CVS and Rite Aid are not accepting the service of Apple Pay from the last weekend
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

OPEC daily basket price closes tad higher
Vienna, Oct 29 (IANS/WAM) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) closed at $82.44 a barrel Tuesday compared to $82.37 Monday, the OPEC Secretariat said. The new OPEC...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Rodriguez delighted to adapt to life at Real Madrid
Madrid, Oct 29 (IANS) Real Madrid's Colombian international James Rodriguez said that he has been a fan of the club for virtually all his life. Rodriguez, who joined Real Madrid for 80 million euros after the FIFA...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Leopard print: Autumn fashion must-have
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Leopard is a statement print that never dates, and it's back with a vengeance for autumn. One should embrace the fashion must-have with open arms but be very careful of choosing the right piece....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Pirate attacks off Somalia coast drop: Maritime watchdog
Nairobi, Oct 29 (IANS) A global maritime body said Wednesday that pirate attacks and armed robbery have decreased remarkably off the coast of Somalia in the past nine months. International Chamber of Commerce's...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
India leads South Asia in ease of doing business: World Bank
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) A new World Bank Group report finds that has India set the pace for regulatory reform in South Asia since 2005 with 20 measures - the largest in the region. India was followed by Sri Lanka...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Modi to have jam-packed itinerary at SAARC Summit
Kathmandu, Oct 29 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrives in Nepal on a four-day visit Nov 25 to participate in the 18th SAARC Summit, will be visiting three religious sites -- Janakpur, Lumbini and...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Over 250 still missing in Sri Lanka landslide
Colombo, Oct 29 (IANS) Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Center(DMC) Wednesday said that over 250 people remain missing, hours after a massive landslide which buried over 150 houses in Haldammulla, located between...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Bangladesh's Jamaat calls shutdown after chief's death sentence
Dhaka, Oct 29 (IANS) Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, Wednesday called for a country-wide shutdown after its chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was handed down the death sentence for wartime atrocities...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Israelis ready to dump family, sex for internet: Poll
London, Oct 29 (IANS) A Google poll revealed that many Israeli people are willing to sacrifice sex and stop talking to their mothers for the sake of internet surfing. Conducted by MarketWatch organisation on behalf of...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Syrian forces down drone in eastern city
Damascus, Oct 29 (IANS) Syrian troops Wednesday downed a drone in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, state-run SANA news agency reported. Citing a military source, SANA said the Syrian troops downed the drone...
Read more on Politics Balla