Welcome to our roundup of the best Apple ads of all time: the adverts the company commissioned to tell the world about itself.
Apple isn't just famous for its computers. Apple is also responsible for some of the most charming adverts in history. Take a look at some of the greatest Apple adverts of all times: the ones that made the Macintosh the most desirable piece of computer hardware of all time.
Most Apple fans know Apple's famous 1984 advert, but lesser-known adverts like Snail and Dinosaurs may have passed by you. So let's take a look at some of the most powerful advertisements in history.
Best Apple ads of all time: Two Kinds Of People (1983)
Apple didn't just start advertising with the Macintosh. Just before the Macintosh launched, in 1983, Jobs and co were trying to push the Apple Lisa computer. This advert stars a young Kevin Costner.
"Soon there'll be just two kinds of people," says a narrator in dulcet tones, while piano music tinkles in the background, "those who use computers, and those who use Apples."
We rather love this slice of eighties awfulness, but one of my colleagues has written an excoriating live-blog of it.
Best Apple ads of all time: 1984 (1983)
No Apple advert compilation could miss the classic 1984. This commercial - screened in a few local spots on 31 December 1983 to qualify for that year's advertising awards, and then nationally during the Super Bowl in January 1984 - introduced the Macintosh.
The Apple board reportedly hated the advert so much that they asked the agency to sell off the spot, although the agency only managed to sell a part of the booked slot, so Jobs and Wozniak still got their 60-second commercial. The ad plays into classic Apple fan territory, positioning the company as the plucky underdog favoured by creatives fighting against corporate mundanity.
Ted Friedman, in his book Electric Dreams: Computers in American Culture, said: "Super Bowl viewers were overwhelmed by the startling ad. The ad garnered millions of dollars worth of free publicity, as news programs rebroadcast it that night. It was quickly hailed by many in the advertising industry as a masterwork." The advert was only officially broadcast a single time, creating an air of mystique in the pre-YouTube days.
Read more: 1984 (Wikipedia)
The making of 1984
Thanks to YouTube there are now a few other videos to watch about the classic 1984 Apple advert. We quite like this Making Of 1984 video, which offers some hints of what went on behind the scenes.
Best Apple ads of all time: Bluebusters (1984)
This was an internal advert shown at an Apple International Sales Meeting in Hawaii in October 1984. It takes the Ghostbusters theme tune and reworks it to poke fun at IBM (whose nickname is Big Blue).
Yeah, it's sophisticated stuff. But decent fun, and presented with surprisingly solid production values, except for those own-brand ghostbuster suits.
Best Apple ads of all time: The Quadra Revolution (1991)
This is one of our favourite Apple adverts. With the best Apple adverts, like 1984, Think Different and Snail, it's not immediately apparent what they're getting at. The Quadra Revolution fools you into thinking you're watching a car advert, before pulling out to reveal the computer.
Best Apple ads of all time: Mac vs Ordinary PC (1993)
The spiritual predecessor of those Mac vs PC adverts that Apple ran in the 00s.
Switching rapidly between a Macintosh (one of the clones from the late 1980s, we believe) and a Windows PC, it compares the Mac (along with fanfare) to the PC (with dowdy music) and their features, performance and all-round pizzazz or lack thereof. And even says the Mac is cheaper - sounds odd nowadays, doesn't it?
This is one of the cheaper-looking Apple adverts, and doesn’t sit very comfortably along such grandiose efforts as Snail and 1984. But it shows that comparing Mac to Windows wasn't a recent idea: Apple's always done it.
Best Apple ads of all time: Dinosaurs (1994)
Another Apple advert attacking Microsoft Windows.
This one shows a dad hoping to entertain his kid with CD-ROM multimedia. "Wanna see some dinosaurs?" But delivering on this promise proves more difficult than expected.
"Loading CD-ROM into Windows," the dad says with a sigh. "Configure jumpers and dip-switches?" Eventually the kid leaves to go to a friend's, because they have a Mac.
Although the ad is another dig at Windows, in this instance most people think it's fair. Setting up an early Windows PC to run CD-ROM multimedia was a technical nightmare.
Best Apple ads of all time: Internet (1996)
Set in the early days of the internet, this Apple advert starts with the words "What would you do, to change the world?" It then flashes between Macs in different settings as children say inspirational things like "end hunger" and "everyone gets a house".
While the message comes across as a bit naive these days, it's quite touching to reminisce about the excitement the internet created when it first appeared.
Best Apple ads of all time: Think Different (1997)
Black and white clips of famous people: Einstein, Gandhi, Picasso, and so on. The narrator recites a monologue about "the crazy ones": the only ones crazy enough to think they could change the world.
This is another absolute classic up in the same league as 1984, and it's worth noting that this marks the return of Steve Jobs to Apple (especially if you compare it with ads like Mac vs Ordinary PC from a few years earlier).
Best Apple ads of all time: Snail (1998)
This is another classic Apple Advert, this time poking fun at the Intel Pentium II processor (as compared to Apple's G3 chip).
The video shows a snail carrying an Intel Processor on its back. It slowly shuffles (crawls?) into view as a voice-over informs you that the Intel Pentium II is not the fastest processor in the world, and that the PowerPC 750 is up to twice as fast.
Best Apple ads of all time: 3 Steps (1998)
The iMac was introduced with a flourish with this cute video narrated by Jeff Goldblum.
In the video he outlines the steps to setting up an iMac, before laughing and saying: "There's no step 3." It fits into the rallying cry of "it just works" from the Apple faithful, but also addresses a problem that many people had with the internet - that it could be painfully tricky to connect a computer to a network. Goldblum's infectious laugh is what really sells the iMac to you, though. Another classic.
Apple's latest advert: What's a computer? (2016)
We've looked at the classics, but for a comparison point let's jump ahead a couple of decades and see what Apple adverts are like in 2016. Here's (at time of writing) the latest Apple commercial: a spot for the iPad Pro called What's a computer?
Notice the classic Apple-ad tropes: the ones the company has been developing for decades. The jaunty music; the pleased-with-himself narrator; the hyper-minimalist backdrop. But you'll also observe that Apple has moved away from the controversy and rival-baiting it used to love - these days Apple is top dog, and rarely deigns to notice the smaller animals nipping round its ankles. This is about product fetishisation, not confrontation.
The animation on the iPad is nice, too, isn't it? It reminds us a little of the jolly little angle-poise lamp in Pixar movies.
Macworld poll: Which is your favourite Apple advert?
Which one did you like best? Have your say in our poll. (If you don't like any of them, prefer one we didn't mention, or think adverts are the tool of the oppressive capitalist patriarchy, feel free to say this in the comments below.)