The “1984” adReal Artists ShipThe high point of the October 1983 Apple sales conference

in Hawaii was a skit based on a TV show called The Dating Game. Jobs played emcee,

and his three contestants, whom he had convinced to fly to Hawaii, were Bill Gates and

There was one more hurdle: Hertzfeld and the other wizards had to finish writing the code for the

Macintosh. It was due to start shipping on Monday, January 16. One week before that,

the engineers concluded they could not make that deadline.

 

two other software executives, Mitch Kapor and Fred Gibbons. As the show’s jingly theme

song played, the three took their stools. Gates, looking like a high school sophomore, got

wild applause from the 750 Apple salesmen when he said, “During 1984, Microsoft expects

That put all the more pressure on the Macintosh, due out in January 1984, three months away,

to save the day against IBM. At the sales conference Jobs decided to play the showdown to the hilt.

He took the stage and chronicled all the missteps made by IBM since 1958, and then in ominous tones

described how it was now trying to take over the market for personal computers:

“Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry?

to get half of its revenues from software for the Macintosh.” Jobs, clean-shaven and bouncy,

gave a toothy smile and asked if he thought that the Macintosh’s new operating system would

become one of the industry’s new standards. Gates answered, “To create a new standard takes

not just making something that’s a little bit different, it takes something that’s really new and

captures people’s imagination. And the Macintosh, of all the machines I’ve ever seen,

is the only one that meets that standard.”

But even as Gates was speaking, Microsoft was edging away from being primarily a collaborator

with Apple to being more of a competitor. It would continue to make application software, like

Microsoft Word, for Apple, but a rapidly increasing share of its revenue would come from the

operating system it had written for the IBM personal computer. The year before, 279,000 Apple IIs

were sold, compared to 240,000 IBM PCs and its clones. But the figures for 1983 were coming in starkly

different: 420,000 Apple IIs versus 1.3 million

Just when the Apple sales force was arriving in Hawaii, this shift was hammered home on the

 

cover of Business Week. Its headline: “Personal Computers: And the Winner Is . . . IBM.”

The story inside detailed the rise of the IBM PC. “The battle for market supremacy is already over,”

 

the magazine declared. “In a stunning blitz, IBM has taken more than 26% of the market in two years,

and is expected to account for half the world market by 1985. An additional 25%

of the market will be turning out IBM-compatible machines.”

 

IBMs and its

clones. And both the

Apple III and the Lisa

were dead in the water.

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