I certainly would have posted about this particular advertisement yesterday, the 30th anniversary of the first IBM PC to the day, but that'd just be rude - and technically this advertisement was released 30 years ago yesterday PLUS two weeks. Today IBM has had 24 hours of glory, and it's time to re-reveal how kind Apple was in welcoming them in to the big show. Each time this anniversary comes around I and we like to consider how the situation has changed and what it meant to the computing world when this ad was released in the very young personal tech world of 1981.
What we ask you here today is to think about where we are today, the environment we're living in as far as competition and "welcoming" competition in via advertisements, off-market talks, and good ol' fashioned innovation. Would this type of ad be published today? It certainly could be, if you ask me. It wouldn't be published in the same font, the layout wouldn't be centered, certainly there'd be a few logo placements different from what's going on here, but the message could be the same - would it be taken differently by the market? You bet.
The message from Apple sent to IBM in the Wall Street Journal is as follows:
Welcome, IBM. Seriously. Welcome to the most exciting and important marketplace since the computer revolution began 35 years ago. And congratulations on your first personal computer. Putting real computer power in the hands of the individual is already improving the way people work, think, learn, communicate, and spend their leisure hours. Computer literacy is fast becoming as fundamental a skill as reading or writing. When we invented the first personal computer system, we estimated that over 140,000,000 people worldwide could justify the purchase of one, if only they understood its benefits. Next year alone, we project that well over 1,000,000 will come to that understanding. Over the next decade, the growth of the personal computer will continue in logarithmic leaps. We look forward to responsible competition in the massive effort to distribute this American technology to the world. And we appreciate the magnitude of your commitment. Because what we are doing is increasing social capital by enhancing individual productivity. Welcome to the task. Apple.
The personal computer industry is now gigantic, it's at its apex - it's even fading away already, depending on who you ask, moving on to mobile personal computing. Who would Apple welcome to the task today? Have they stuck to their guns as far as "increasing social capital by enhancing individual productivity?" You bet. From the Apple I to the iPad 2 to the newest MacBook Air - personal computers.
Also in response to comments yesterday on the fact that I'd missed several personal computers that'd been released before the IBM PC, here's the rest of the list, plus the few I'd already listed:
MITS's Altair 8080
IMSAI's IMSAI 8080
The Apple I
Processor Technology's SOL
The Apple II
Radio Shack's TRS-80 (later known as the TRS-80 Model I)
The Atari 400/800
Radio Shack's TRS-80 models II and III
Sinclair's ZX-80 (before it was bought by Timex.)
Texas Instruments's TI 99/4A
IBM PC model 5150
Special thanks to shamino for the extended list.
Let us know what you think!