Power Players

Bill Gates calls Apple's first Mac a 'great machine' in this 1983 internal video

Original 1984 Macintosh 128K
Credit: Jonathan Zufi

In 1984, Apple introduced the public to its groundbreaking new personal computer, the Macintosh, with a now-iconic Super Bowl ad portraying the Mac as liberating consumers from a conformist dystopia.

While that commercial earned a permanent spot in pop culture history, Apple also made another video a year earlier touting the "revolutionary" new Macintosh for the company's employees and partners. That internal promotional video, which was unreleased at the time but now lives on the internet, features young Steve Jobs and Bill Gates singing the Mac's praises.

Gates praises Apple

Gates and Microsoft would later become fierce rivals with Apple in the battle for software supremacy. But in the early 1980s, Microsoft was one of Apple's biggest software developers, with Gates and his team creating Microsoft software specifically for the new Macs, including the first version of Microsoft Word.

In the 16-minute internal promo video from 1983, Gates notes that Microsoft had already been working with Apple on the Macintosh for roughly two years. The future billionaire added that he was "enthused" to work on the Macintosh, because it was rare for Microsoft to get to develop software for new devices before they hit the market.

Embedded below is a clip of Gates discussing Microsoft's work on Macintosh software from the 1983 promo video.

Bill Gates talks about Apple's Macintosh computer in 1983
Bill Gates talks about Apple's Macintosh computer in 1983

"It's a great machine," Gates says in the video. "It's a step forward in terms of the way it uses graphics; and the speed. This is a machine that a lot of people are going to be able to afford that's a very, very useful machine."

Gates wasn't done gushing about the Macintosh, though. In 1984, he proclaimed in an interview that "the next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC."

Look, it's 'portable'

The internal Apple video also shows a series of Apple hardware and software engineers explaining how hard they had worked to make the Macintosh into what they believed would be a more consumer-friendly personal computer. A voice-over touts the benefits of the new computer, which is described as being "as easy to set up as it is to use."

The video also offers tutorials on using the Macintosh's mouse to click and drag files, or even to change fonts and type sizes.

Apple even boasts about the portability of the Macintosh, with the video showing an office worker unplugging the computer and sliding it into a "durable carrying case" the size of small carry-on before taking the entire set-up on a bike ride.

"When you're ready to travel, Macintosh can easily go along," the voice-over says.

Embedded below is a clip from the 1983 promo video showing off the Macintosh's portability.

This is what Apple's Macintosh computer looked like in 1983
This is what Apple's Macintosh computer looked like in 1983

Jobs pitches his vision for the future of personal computers

The promo video concludes with Apple co-founder Jobs describing the Macintosh as "the neatest product I've ever seen in my life," while explaining that he envisioned the personal computer revolutionizing the way people work at home and in the office, as well as communicate with each other.

Embedded below is a clip from the promo video featuring Jobs discussing the Macintosh.

Steve Jobs talks about Apple's Macintosh computer in 1983
Steve Jobs talks about Apple's Macintosh computer in 1983

In 1983, Apple's most notable personal computer was still the Apple II, which hit the market in 1977 and became the first commercially successful personal computer on the market — eventually selling more than five million units.

However, Jobs envisioned the Macintosh as the first truly mass-market personal computer, in part because it was easier to use than most other computers on the market, with a built-in screen and mouse. The nearly $2,500 Macintosh was also more affordable for the average consumer (a lot less than the Apple Lisa computer, which the company released a year earlier at a price of nearly $10,000).

"We're going to find people buying Macintoshes for their own use or for use in a dormitory or for use in a corner of a corporation that might never have gotten a computer before," Jobs says in the video.

In the video, Jobs predicts that Apple's computer technology would be able to "not only to increase the productivity in offices and colleges around the world, but is going to be able to make a qualitative difference in the way that we communicate with each other."

The Apple co-founder even predicted the enormous success of the Macintosh.

"I think we're going to be able to bring these products to not just tens of thousands or millions of people, but to tens of millions of people," Jobs says, noting that such widespread adoption was the ultimate goal of the tech industry at the time.

"And, that's really what the personal computer revolution is all about."

Once it hit the market on January 24, 1984, the Apple Macintosh immediately became a popular seller, with roughly 72,000 computers sold in the first 100 days on the market. Apple sold its one-millionth Macintosh in 1987.

And just as Jobs predicted, the Macintosh brand has gone on to reach tens of millions of people. In the 2019 fiscal year, Apple sold more than 18 million Mac personal computers, including desktops and laptops.

You can watch the entire 1983 promo video here.

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