Today in Apple history: Sequel to ‘1984’ Mac ad bombs hard

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The
The "Lemmings" ad was a massive disaster for Apple.
Photo illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

January 20: Today in Apple history: Apple's 'Lemmings' advertisement, sequel to groundbreaking '1984' Mac ad, bombs hard January 20, 1985: Apple attempts to build on the triumph of the previous year’s “1984” Macintosh commercial with another Super Bowl ad.

Called “Lemmings,” the ad for a new business platform called Macintosh Office depicts blindfolded executives marching to their doom. The widely reviled ad will go down in history as one of Apple’s biggest stinkers.

Today in Apple history: Unauthorized Apple II clone sparks big legal battle

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The Franklin Ace 1200 was, in some ways, a literal copy of the Apple II.
The Franklin Ace 1200 was, in some ways, a literal copy of the Apple II.
Photo: Bugbookmuseum

January 18: Today in Apple history: Franklin's unauthorized Apple II clone, the Franklin Ace 1200, sparks legal battle January 18, 1983: Computer manufacturer Franklin Electronic Publishers takes the wraps off its Franklin Ace 1200 computer, an unauthorized Apple II clone that triggers an important legal battle.

Cupertino will soon target Franklin’s line of unlicensed Apple clones with a lawsuit. In the resulting trial, a U.S. court will decide whether a company can protect its operating system by copyright.

Today in Apple history: Mac’s ‘1984’ ad debuts in theaters

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1984
Before it won the Super Bowl, Apple's iconic Mac ad invaded theaters.
Photo: Chiat/Day/Apple

January 17: Today in Apple history: Mac's '1984' ad debuts in theaters January 17, 1984: A week before its famous airing during Super Bowl XVIII, Apple’s iconic “1984” ad debuts as a trailer in movie theaters.

To hype its revolutionary new Macintosh computer, Apple buys several months of promotion from theatrical ad distributor ScreenVision. Cupertino’s sci-fi-tinged “1984” spot — which depicts a sledgehammer-wielding freedom fighter taking on a Big Brother figure supposed to represent IBM —
gets such a favorable audience reaction that some theater owners continue to roll the ad after Apple’s contract ends.

Today in Apple history: Macintosh Plus brings big changes to Mac

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The MacIntosh Plus was arguably the first truly great Mac.
The MacIntosh Plus was arguably the first truly great Mac.
Photo: Rama/Wikipedia CC

January 16: Today in Apple history: Macintosh Plus brings big changes to Mac January 16, 1986: Apple introduces the Macintosh Plus, its third Mac model and the first to be released after Steve Jobs was forced out of the company the previous year.

The Mac Plus is also the first Macintosh to include a SCSI port, the main way of attaching a Mac to other devices until Apple abandoned the tech on the iMac G3 upon Jobs’ return. The Mac Plus also boasted an expandable 1MB of RAM and a double-sided 800KB floppy drive.

Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs loses ‘Man of the Year’ award to the PC

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Time1
Steve Jobs was devastated by the announcement.
Photo: Time magazine

December 26: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs loses 'Man of the Year' award to the PC December 26, 1982: Time magazine names the personal computer its “Man of the Year.”

It’s the first (and, to date, only) time a nonhuman entity wins the award, which was created in 1927. However, the award devastates Steve Jobs — because he thought the accolade would go to him.

Today in Apple history: Apple buys ‘iPhone’ web domain

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Loads of people love the iPhone SE's smaller form factor.
Do you remember when you first heard the name iPhone?
Photo: Sam Mills/Cult of Mac

December 14: Today in Apple history: Apple buys 'iPhone' web domain iphone.org December 14, 1999: Apple acquires the domain name www.iphone.org, prompting years of speculation that Cupertino is considering building a cellphone.

While the news generates interest, some take it as a warning sign. Apple only recently abandoned the kind of non-computer projects like games consoles, PDAs and digital cameras that proved to be dead ends earlier in the decade.

An Apple phone could never be a thing, right?

Today in Apple history: Apple IPO mints instant millionaires

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Apple is worth more than the entire US energy sector combined
December 12, 1980, was an incredibly important day for Apple.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac/401Calculator

December 12: Today in Apple history: Apple goes public at $22 per share, minting instant millionaires December 12, 1980: Apple goes public, floating 4.6 million shares on the stock market at $22 per share.

In the biggest tech IPO of its day, more than 40 out of 1,000 Apple employees become instant millionaires. As Apple’s biggest shareholder, 25-year-old Steve Jobs ends the day with a net worth of $217 million. However, the big payday triggers internal tensions as it highlights Cupertino’s class divide.

Today in Apple history: Too little, too late for Apple III

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Apple relaunched the ill-fated Apple III, hoping to fix the computer's big problems.
Apple relaunched its ill-fated Apple III, hoping to address its earlier problems.
Photo: Alker33/YouTube

December 1: Today in Apple history: Apple III relaunch December 1, 1981: After the disastrous rollout of the “next-gen” Apple III the previous year, Apple corrects the computer’s most glaring hardware faults and relaunches it.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. Apple experiences its first “flop” product with its would-be Apple II successor.