[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Apple Gets Biblical

July 28th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Apple Adam Genesis Forbidden Fruit Apple II Advertisement - 1979Where’s Eve? Oh wait.

This ad is actually for an Apple II-themed creative writing contest, but you’d never know it. That’s because the gobs of tiny, hard-to-read text are completely overshadowed by the nude man in a jungle holding an Apple II over his crotch.

And that man happens to be Adam from Genesis.

Oh boy.

So there you have it, folks. The Apple II was responsible for the fall of man. You know — that time Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, casting all of humanity into sin. Here’s a tasty quote from Wikipedia:

For many Christian denominations the doctrine of the fall is closely related to that of original sin. They believe that the fall brought sin into the world, corrupting the entire natural world, including human nature, causing all humans to be born into original sin, a state from which they cannot attain eternal life without the grace of God.

You probably won’t see me discussing theology on this blog ever again, but I find this ad quite funny because, despite its tongue-in-cheek cuteness, the biblical interpretations stemming from it are myriad and potentially wildly unexpected, making this a complete failure of marketing. But that failure was likely overlooked. This was 1979 — early in the life of Apple — and it was also before the Great Masses of the Offended had a strong enough voice (i.e. The Internet) with which to share and froth over everything that displeased them.

[ From BYTE – November 1979, p.33]

Discussion Topic of the Week: How do you think people would react if Apple published an ad like this today?

5 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Apple Gets Biblical”

  1. Stan Says:

    It wasn’t the first time Apple made a theological faux pas. Woz priced the original Apple I at $666 because he liked repeating numbers, completely unaware of 666 as “the number of the beast”.

    Some people aren’t aware that the Apple II wasn’t initially a big success. Apple struggled in its first year, fighting the reputation of the Apple II as more flash than substance.

    Then, one month in 1978, sales suddenly doubled. Then next month, they doubled again. And doubled again the next month.

    Out of nowhere Apple started selling Apple IIs as fast as they could make them, and they had no idea why. They didn’t know who was buying them, why they were buying them, or what they were using them for.

    Of course, completely failing to understand your own market and own customers is a common theme of the early personal computer history (see the Apple ///, Commodore +4, IBM PC jr, etc.).

    So when I see this ad I take more as literal market research rather some clever marketing stunt (please tell us why you keep buying our product!) even though by 1979 VisiCalc was well known and Apple’s turn towards the business market was well under way.

  2. David Ernst Says:

    In the late 1990s, Microsoft ran a TV ad for Internet Explorer using the Dies Irae sequence from Mozart’s Requiem Mass as musical accompaniment. “Dies Irae” means “wrath of God” and the sequence describes the wicked being condemned to hell on Judgment Day. The ad ended with a final flourish of music and the slogan, “Where do you want to go today?” But the original words to the music were “confutatis maledictis flammis acribus addictis…” (“When the damned are confounded and consigned to sharp flames…”)

  3. Zoyous Says:

    I’m not sure how the public would respond to such an ad campaign today. But if I were to go back in time and participate in this contest (a few years late, admittedly, with the Apple IIe), I’d effuse about using the Apple IIe to play countless hours of Montezuma’s Revenge, Star Blazer, and the Bilestoad. Plus occasionally writing a BASIC program to display some crude low resolution-mode animation. Hawaii, here I come!

  4. Moondog Says:

    Today an ad like that would barely (pun intended) get noticed. The writing contest would take forever to read through the entries.

  5. Josh Says:

    Go to any mainstream news site. People by and large aren’t complaining about the trampling of their religious sensitivities. They are complaining about what they perceive as injustice in various (and myriad) social issues. I don’t need to list them here. Insulting religion is perfectly fine in today’s world. That is, as long as it’s a Western religion being insulted. We’re still nice to minority religions. The loudest complainers, in my personal experience and observation, are those that despise western religion.

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