We've collected some of our favorite and most memorable Apple ads from the last three decades, so take a trip down memory lane with us as we go through Apple's most iconic TV spots.
"Apple II," circa 1980
The first Apple PC, the Apple II, debuted in 1977. Four models made up this line of computers, and while Apple focused predominantly on print advertisements for its marketing campaign, it did run a series of television spots touting, primarily, the computer's benefits to students and the education market.
"Apple Lisa," 1982
Did you know that before he was dancing with wolves and searching for dry land, Kevin Costner was pimping for Apple? Before the world met the Macintosh, Costner starred in this classic 1982 ad for the Apple Lisa.
Hands-down the most iconic Apple ad of all time, the "1984" commercial aired only once, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. The award-winning spot was directed by Ridley Scott (who had an unheard of $900,000 budget) and introduced the world to Apple's Macintosh computer.
The 1984 ad is now considered one of the most memorable and successful commercials of all time, a masterpiece in American advertising, and a continued object of study for marketing and cultural scholars.
"Who Is Newton?" 1993
Before there were iPhones and iPads, there was Newton. While the Apple Newton is widely considered a commercial failure, Apple's PDA stuck around through at least 1997 and elements of its software (like its handwriting recognition technology) still live on in other Apple products.
"Think Different," 1997-2002
Apple launched its "Think Different" campaign in 1997. The original "Crazy Ones" TV commercial was a one minute, black and white advertisement featuring historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon, Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earheart, Alfred Hitchcock, Jim Henson, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Pablo Picasso.
A truncated version of the "Crazy Ones" commercial featured Jerry Seinfeld and aired just once, during his show's series finale.
"She's a Rainbow," 1998
When it launched the original iMac in 1998, Apple avoided the boring beige that plagued PCs and rolled out a line of all-in-one computers available in more than a dozen different colors.
The original iMac came in "Bondi blue," but Apple soon replaced it with "flavors" like blueberry, strawberry, tangerine, grape, and lime. Later releases introduced options like graphite, ruby, sage, snow, indigo, and patterns including "Blue Dalmatian," and "Flower Power."
While everyone was panicking about Y2K, Apple was playing it cool. This 1999 Super Bowl ad touted the Mac's immunity to Y2K, and while that whole "worldwide, apocalyptic computer meltdown" thing turned out to be a major bust, the ad does feature a pretty cool cameo from everyone's favorite computer gone bad. 'Sup, HAL?
Ah, the inaugural iPod commercial. Featuring the Propellerheads' "Take California," this low-key ad was all about the music (and rightly so). Remember when iPods had monochrome screens, those old-fashioned scroll wheels, FireWire ports, and only enough space for 1,000 songs? We do! (And quite frankly, we kind of miss it.)
Ellen Feiss became an Internet sensation when the then-14-year-old starred in Apple's 2002 "Switch" campaign. The series of TV spots, directed by Errol Morris, featured celebrities who had switched from PCs to Macs, including Yo-Yo Ma, Kelly Slater, Will Ferrell, and Tony Hawk.
Its minimalist and modern aesthetic made "Switch" an instant classic, and while the ads were phased out by 2003, elements of them would re-emerge in the 2006 "Get a Mac" campaign.
"The New iMac," 2002
The iMac finally got an upgrade in 2002. In addition to a faster G4 processor, the iMac got a design overhaul when Apple introduced this desk lamp-style "New iMac."
Originally featuring a 15" LCD (Apple would later add a 17" option) mounted to its CPU by an adjustable, pivoting arm and tray-loading SuperDrive, the New iMac was (and still is) a favorite among Apple design enthusiasts. The innovative design was featured in a short film produced by Pixar and this 2001 "window shopping" ad.
"iPod + iTunes," 2003-Present
It's hard to believe the "Silhouette" commercials have been around since 2003, but that's when Apple launched the ubiquitous ad campaign to promote its iPod line and then-new iTunes Music Store The original silhouette ad featured the Black Eyed Peas' "Hey Mama." The graphics have since been improved and Apple now uses the ads for its iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano lines, too.
Other iPod + iTunes spots have included songs by U2, the Caesars, Daft Punk, the Gorillaz, Eminem, Wynton Marsalis, Wolfmother, Bob Dylan, the Ting Tings, Feist, and Coldplay.
"Pods Unite," 2003
2003 was truly the year of the iPod. With the launch of a redesigned, Windows-compatible iPod and iTunes 4 (which introduced the iTunes Music Store), Apple kicked off an aggressive marketing campaign, that included this partnership with Volkswagon.
Pods Unite was a 2003 promotion that began by offering new Beetle sedan buyers a free iPod, but also laid the groundwork for iPod/automobile integration that Apple would later revisit with BMW.
12" and 17" Powerbook, 2003
In 2003, Apple launched its then-revolutionary 12" and 17" PowerBooks. This TV spot, starring the diminutive Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer and the nearly-eight-foot-tall basketball pro Yao Ming garnered national attention when it aired during a post-Super Bowl episode of Alias.
"PowerMac G5," 2003
When Apple announced the PowerMac G5 in 2003, who knew the record-breaking CPU would be the last of its kind? Apple touted the G5 as "the fastest personal computer ever built," but it was discontinued in 2006 when Apple abandoned the PowerPC processor for an Intel chipset and replaced its PowerMac line with the unimpressively-named Mac Pro.
"I Fought the Law," 2004
Apple continued to hawk the iPod and its iTunes Music Store hard in 2004 when it partnered with Pepsi and punk-pop band Green Day for this much-hyped Super Bowl ad. The spot featured a cover of "I Fought the Law" and kicked off a promotion to give away 100 million free songs.
The soda promotion fell a little flat — by April, Apple had only given away about 5 million free songs, but the sheer hype that had surrounded the Super Bowl spot the Pepsi promotion nonetheless ranks it among one of Apple's most memorable marketing moments.
"iPod Your BMW," 2004
Apple continued to promote its music player business by teaming up with corporate partners. In 2004, it joined BMW in developing a system to more seamlessly integrate auto with audio.
"Get a Mac," 2006-2009
Starring John Hodgman and Justin Long, the 2006 "Get a Mac" campaign was the successor to the earlier "Switch" ads.
This set of spots won an EFFIE Award from the New York American Marketing Association in 2007 and have been re-dubbed and adapted for localities throughout the world. The music was composed by renowned composer (and lead Devo singer), Mark Mothersbaugh.
"Get a Mac," UK Version
For its British market, Apple recast the "Get a Mac" ads with David Mitchell and Robert Webb, a poular British comedy double act. Many of the American ads were reshot with new dialogue and slightly altered scenes and also featured new spots unique to the British campaign.
"iPhone How-To," 2007
Apple finally made its long-awaited foray into the mobile phone market in 2007. The iPhone's revolutionary touch technology wow'd customers, and in the lead up to its launch, Apple aired a series of "How-To" ads aimed at prepping the masses for the so-called Jesus Phone.
"There's an App for That," 2008-Present
The iPhone, of course, is still going strong. Apple launched an iPhone App Store in 2008, which increased the device's functionality exponentially and gave Apple even more selling points that it's latched onto and refuses to let us forget about with its ubiquitous (and obnoxious) "There's an App for That" ads.
The iPad, Apple's long-rumored (re-)entry into the tablet computer market, hit stores in 2010. Apple launched this iPhone-style spot (featuring the Blue Van's "There Goes My Love") during the 82nd Academy Awards.