Jobs liked that. Indeed the concept for the ad had a special resonance for him.
He fancied himself a rebel, and he liked to associate himself with the values of the
ragtag band of hackers and pirates he recruited to the Macintosh group. Even though
he had left the apple commune in Oregon to start the Apple corporation, he still wanted
to be viewed as a denizen of the counterculture rather than the corporate culture.
But he also realized, deep inside, that he had increasingly abandoned the hacker spirit.
Some might even accuse him of selling out. When Wozniak held true to the Homebrew
ethic by sharing his design for the Apple I for free, it was Jobs who insisted that they sell
the boards instead. He was also the one who, despite Wozniak’s reluctance, wanted to turn
Apple into a corporation and not freely distribute stock options to the friends who had been
in the garage with them. Now he was about to launch the Macintosh, a machine that violated
many of the principles of the hacker’s code: It was overpriced; it would have no slots, which
meant that hobbyists could not plug in their own expansion cards or jack into the motherboard
to add their own new functions; and it took special tools just to open the plastic case. It was
a closed and controlled system, like something designed by Big Brother rather than by a hacker.
So the “1984” ad was a way of reaffirming, to himself and to the world, his desired self-image.
The heroine, with a drawing of a Macintosh emblazoned on her pure white tank top, was a renegade
out to foil the establishment. By hiring Ridley Scott, fresh off the success of Blade Runner, as the
director, Jobs could attach himself and Apple to the cyberpunk ethos of the time. With the ad,
Apple could identify itself with the rebels and hackers
who thought differently,
and Jobs could reclaim
his right to identify
with them as well.