I bought this T-shirt recently from Thinkgeek. It’s an homage to the original Macintosh television ad, aired during the 1984 SuperBowl, which I of course was watching live (I didn’t yet have a DVR, due to their not-yet-invention). The ad was directed by Ridley Scott, who had previously directed tiny art films like Alien and Blade Runner. I distinctly remember sitting in the room with my jaw hanging open, and said to nobody in particular, “What the hell was that?” Those 60 seconds literally changed my life. I can’t say that about any other TV commercial.
That ad led me, in October 1984, to buy my second personal computer (my first was a Commodore 64, which, because of my lack of serious interest in programming, never made a significant impact). That original 128K Mac helped me start a business as a freelance video editor; I used Microsoft Multiplan (the forerunner to Excel) to prepare bids for jobs. In 1985, the film business went into one of its perennial slumps, and the few regular clients I had all dried up. After about six months of unemployment, I thought, “Crap, I gotta get a job.”
I’d spent lots of those six months learning to use my new Mac and had attended the very first Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January 1985. I’d become a chapter leader for the MacHollywood branch of the Los Angeles Macintosh Group, which met at SOS Computer, on La Brea in LA. As a result, I got hired as the store’s in-house Mac support guy (yes, that used to be a thing, back before Apple Stores and Genius Bars).
Sometime in 1985, a friend asked if I would be interested in writing some product reviews for a startup magazine, MacGuide. I said sure (“Free software? Getting paid for my opinions? Sign me up!”). I went on to write several feature and cover stories for MacGuide. In 1986, I wrote my first product review for Macworld, and was a Contributing Editor there from 1990 to 2004. I wrote my first solo book, Upgrading Your Mac Illustrated, for Que, in 1994. It tanked. But since then, I’ve completed a total of 48 books (I count the books where my name appears on the cover as author or co-author).
So, looking back 31 years later: yes, those 60 seconds completely changed my life. The actress who tossed that fateful sledgehammer through the video screen shattered my life, too—in a way for which I will always be forever grateful.