Original storyboard for Apple’s iconic 1984 ad revealed by copywriter

The original storyboard for Apple’s iconic 1984 ad has been revealed by the copywriter, Steve Hayden …

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A storyboard is a series of drawings intended to provide a visual sense of a planned film. A technique first developed by Disney in the 1930s, storyboards are a standard tool commonly used in everything from 10-second ads to full-length feature films.

The quality and detail of the drawings can vary from simple line drawings to detailed color illustrations showing things like the effect of planned lighting setups.

The storyboard for the one-minute ad, shown only once on national television, comprises 14 drawings, plus a faded version of the final one to illustrate the fade-out at the end.

Business Insider shares only a low-resolution image in a piece designed to accompany a podcast with Hayden which will be available on Wednesday as part of its Household Name series.


The story behind the ad designed to introduce the Macintosh has been told many times. For anyone not familiar, the executive summary is that Steve Jobs and John Sculley loved it so much they went ahead and bought 90 seconds of extremely expensive ad time during the Super Bowl before the rest of the Apple board had seen it.

The board rejected it, and instructed ad agency Chiat/Day to sell the slot. Steve Wozniak liked it so much he offered to pay half the cost of airing it if Jobs would pay the other half. This turned out to be unnecessary: Chiat/Day had sold 30 seconds of the slot but didn’t even try to sell the other 60 seconds.

The ad ran, in its only appearance on national television (it had been quietly aired in late-night slots on local stations in order to qualify for various ad awards). It was subsequently rebroadcast countless times on TV news, netting Apple millions of dollars worth of free publicity.

You can watch the ad below, and see how it emerged from the 1984 storyboard above.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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