1984 and all that: A history of Apple in CR

From DTP to Jonathan Ive by way of Croydon, search for ‘Apple’ in the CR archive to see the enduring impact the brand has had on the creative industry

Joint Apple/Letraset DPS ad from CR July 1988

The CR archive features every single issue of the magazine, from our launch in 1980 to the current issue. All subscribers can access it, giving you the chance to delve into the history of the creative industry over the past four decades.

Apple first found its way into the pages of CR via its advertising – not the blockbuster Ridley Scott/Lee Clow kind but the more humble fare of the reseller. In the early 80s Apple products were distributed in the UK via such retailers as the Apple Centre Croydon whose ads were a regular feature in CR.

Each new Apple launch – from the ill-fated PowerPC era through the Powerbook G3 and, of course, various iMacs, was introduced to CR readers via these pages. Dizzying speeds of 66MHz and hitherto undreamed-of memory of, ooh, 300Mb were promised with each glimpse of our future.

Back in the late 90s no-one was quite sure what kind of future Apple itself had. A bright young Brit called Jonathan Ive had been brought in to help revive the product range: when we interviewed him in January 1997 he had just been promoted to Design Director and was sounding optimistic. “I hope I can convince the guys back at Apple to be strong and clear in what they do,” he told us. “We mustn’t be insipid.”

In the piece we canvassed a few Apple fans about what they thought the company should do to regain its magic, including one Douglas Adams. “I wish Apple could return to the innovation and imagination that’s always been its strength in the past,” he said. “Apple needs to find a direction – dare I say a vision.”

That vision was articulated later in the year by Steve Jobs in his keynote at the San Francisco Seybold publishing conference which we reported on in November that year. The Think Different ad campaign was launched and Jobs was scathing about previous efforts: “Apple spends a fortune on advertising but you’d never notice it,” he said, citing Nike as an example of what Apple aspired to do. It may seem unimaginable now but at the time Apple was under real threat from Windows NT which even those in publishing were switching to at an alarming rate. Many at the conference were predicting Apple had a year tops to turn thing around.

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Malcolm Garrett interviews Jonathan Ive, CR Sept 03

Which if course they did. By the next time we met Ive (interviewed by Malcolm Garrett in September 03) Apple was in a very different place. And Ive, surrounded by vigilant PRs, was much more guarded about what he said. Sample response to a question about the Newton: “No, no…er yeah… I can’t talk about that”

And there then follows in the CR Annual an array of beautiful packaging design which wins year after year Apple as enters a period of unsurpassed success. But we’ll leave it to another design legend for one of our favourite Apple-related quotes, Alan Fletcher. For our 25th birthday issue, we asked him to pick out some of the most significant changes in the industry. Citing the Mac, he said: “There’s no doubt that the Mac is a marvellous machine and an invaluable tool for designers today. I have one in the studio and it’s used on a daliy basis. Admittedly, I art direct while someone else pushes the buttons. However what’s really sinister is that every time you upgrade one bit of software – or hardware – you have to buy another bit to make the bit you just bought work. And so it goes on. It’s as if some frightful robot’s got you by the throat with one hand whilst his other is rifling through your pockets.” Quite.

From the 2005 CR Annual
CR Sept 06, Susan Kare interview
Feature on Think Different from the Feb 12 Slogans issue of CR

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WRITER

Worthing

CREATIVE DESIGNER – BRAND

Maidenhead, Berkshire