Super Bowl XVIII was played 39 years ago in Tampa Bay and featured the Los Angeles Raiders taking on the Washington Redskins. Raiders fans will remember that they routed the favored Redskins by a final score of 38 – 9 to win their third (and last) Super Bowl Championship. At the beginning of 1984 and months prior to the big game, Steve Jobs and his team at Apple were preparing to launch their version of a personal desktop computer, the Apple Macintosh. A prior marketing idea was resurrected that suggested that big business and big government used their massive computing power to track individuals…but Apple was tipping the scales by providing the consumer that power. This led to an Orwellian themed concept to battle back against “big brother” – after all, the year was 1984. Ridley Scott, director of the dystopian hit Blade Runner, was hired to direct a commercial to unveil the Mac. Jobs and Steve Wozniak were so enthusiastic about the final ad that they bought time in the upcoming Super Bowl.
The ad only ran one time during the game and never aired again. In the third quarter, the Raiders scored a touchdown and instead of a replay, the feed cut to a full two seconds of a black screen and then the commercial. It has been referred to as the greatest ad of all time.
The first Macintosh retailed for $2,495. This is the equivalent of $7,127 in today’s dollars. A current MacBook can be purchased from Apple starting at $999. That’s an 86% reduction in real prices in 39 years. This is an obvious example of the deflation witnessed specifically in electronic consumer products over the past four decades.