Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial airs during Super Bowl XVIII

Year
1984
Month Day
January 22

During a break in the action of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22nd, 1984, audiences first see a commercial that is now widely agreed to be one of the most powerful and effective of all time. Apple’s “1984” spot, featuring a young woman throwing a sledgehammer through a screen on which a Big Brother-like figure preaches about “the unification of thought,” got people around the United States talking and heralded a new age for Apple, consumer technology and advertising.

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The ad was directed by Ridley Scott, who directed the genre-defining dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner in 1982. The spot was in a similar vein, depicting a bleak and monocrhome future where a crowd of bald extras—many of them actual skinheads from the streets of London—stood before an enormous screen broadcasting a message of conformity. A runner enters, pursued by police, and hurls the hammer at the screen, destroying it just as the Big Brother figure announces “We shall prevail!” The text in the last shot makes the references to George Orwell explicit: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs loved the ad, but Apple’s board did not. They asked the agency that produced it, Chiat/Day, to sell back the time they had purchased for the ad, and “1984” only aired because Chiat/Day resorted to subterfuge, intentionally failing to sell back the time. It was the right decision: the ad achieved every company’s dream of becoming news itself, receiving free replays on news broadcasts the next day. Super Bowl ads were already big business, but many in the advertising world point to “1984” as the moment when the big game became a venue for innovative, marquee ads, which soon became e a major part of the overall spectacle of the Super Bowl. The spot also cemented Apple’s reputation for being iconoclastic, disruptive and forward-thinking, an image that has been central to its brand ever since. By telling a somewhat high-minded story and barely mentioning the product it was selling—no computers appear in the ad—it also helped establish that bolder, less literal advertising could be just as effective, if not more so, than simpler commercials.

READ MORE: They Can’t All Be iPhones: The Story of Apple’s Forgotten Flop

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One of the “Hillside Stranglers” sentenced to life


Year
1984
Month Day
January 09

Angelo Buono, one of the Hillside Stranglers, is sentenced to life in prison for his role in the rape, torture, and murder of 10 young women in Los Angeles. Buono’s cousin and partner in crime, Kenneth Bianchi, testified against Buono to escape the death penalty.

Buono, a successful auto upholsterer, and Bianchi began their serial crime spree in 1977 when Bianchi moved from New York to live with his cousin. They started talking about how the prostitutes that Buono often brought home would hardly be missed by anyone if they disappeared. Idle speculation quickly led to action and the pair raped and strangled their first victim, Yolanda Washington, on October 17.

Within a month Buono and Bianchi had attacked three other women and developed a trademark method of operation. They picked up the women in their van, drove them back to Buono’s house where they were sexually assaulted in all manners, tortured, and strangled to death. The duo then thoroughly cleaned the bodies before taking and posing them in lascivious positions on hillsides in the Los Angeles area, often near police stations. Thus, they earned the nickname the “Hillside Strangler.” The press assumed that it was the work of one man.

Following the death of the 10th victim in February 1978, the murders suddenly stopped. Buono and Bianchi were no longer getting along, even with their common hobby. Bianchi moved to Washington and applied for a job at the Bellingham Police Department. He didn’t get the job, but became a security guard instead. However, he couldn’t keep his murderous impulses in check and killed two college students. A witness who had seen the two girls with Bianchi came forward and the case was solved.

Bianchi, who had seen the movies Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve many times, suddenly claimed to have multiple personalities. He blamed the murders on “Steve,” one of his alternate personalities. Psychiatrists examining Bianchi quickly dismissed his ruse and Bianchi then confessed to the Hillside Strangler murders, testifying against Buono to avoid the death penalty in Washington.

During his trial, Buono fiercely insisted on his innocence, pointing to the fact that there was no physical evidence tying him to the crimes. Buono’s house was so clean that investigators couldn’t even find Buono’s own fingerprints in the home. But after more than 400 witnesses testified, Buono was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Angelo Buono died from a heart attack on Sept. 21, 2002 at the age of 67. Kenneth Bianchi was denied parole in September 2005 and remains in prison.

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Britain agrees to return Hong Kong to China


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Year
1984
Month Day
December 19

In the Hall of the People in Beijing, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang sign an agreement committing Britain to return Hong Kong to China in 1997 in return for terms guaranteeing a 50-year extension of its capitalist system. Hong Kong–a small peninsula and group of islands jutting out from China’s Kwangtung province–was leased by China to Great Britain in 1898 for 99 years.

In 1839, in the First Opium War, Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country’s economic, social, and political affairs. One of Britain’s first acts of war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. In 1841, China ceded the island to the British with the signing of the Convention of Chuenpi, and in 1842 the Treaty of Nanking was signed, formally ending the First Opium War. At the end of the Second Opium War (1856-1860), China was forced to cede the Kowloon Peninsula, adjacent to Hong Kong Island, along with other area islands.

Britain’s new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. On July 1, 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over the Hong Kong colony under the Second Convention of Peking. Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese from 1941 to 1944 during World War II but remained in British hands throughout the various Chinese political upheavals of the 20th century.

On December 19, 1984, after years of negotiations, British and Chinese leaders signed a formal pact approving the 1997 turnover of the colony in exchange for the formulation of a “one country, two systems” policy by China’s communist government. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called the agreement “a landmark in the life of the territory, in the course of Anglo-Chinese relations, and in the history of international diplomacy.” Hu Yaobang, the Chinese Communist Party’s secretary-general, called the signing “a red-letter day, an occasion of great joy” for China’s one billion people.

At midnight on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous international dignitaries, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few thousand citizens of Hong Kong protested the turnover, which was otherwise celebratory and peaceful. The chief executive of the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, did enact a policy based upon the concept of one country, two systems, thus preserving Hong Kong’s role as a principal capitalist center in Asia. 

Massive anti-government protests in Hong Kong began in June 2019, when more than 1 million people marched to protest a bill that would allow the extradition of people to mainland China to stand trial. The bill was later dropped, but anti-government unrest remains. 

READ MORE: How Hong Kong Came Under ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Rule

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Bernhard Goetz shoots four youths on the subway


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Year
1984
Month Day
December 22

On the New York City subway, Bernhard Goetz, a 45-year-old white male, shoots four young black men after they surround him and ask for $5. After wounding three of the unarmed men, Goetz pointed his gun at 18-year-old Darrell Cabey, who was not wounded but cowering terrified in the subway car, and said, “You don’t look too bad, here’s another.” Goetz then shot Cabey in the back, severing his spinal cord. Three of the youths recovered, but Cabey was paralyzed and suffered permanent brain damage.

Goetz, who fled the scene of the crime, turned himself in to police in New Hampshire nine days later. During his subsequent interrogation, Goetz admitted on videotape that when one of the threatening young men smirked at him, he wanted to “kill them all.” The seemingly racially motivated shooting caused considerable controversy in New York and around the country, especially after Goetz pleaded innocent to charges of attempted murder in the subsequent criminal trial.

Goetz’s lawyers argued that the men were trying to rob him and that he was only acting in self-defense, while the prosecution maintained that the four young men were merely panhandling. The case proved particularly divisive in New York City, where racial tensions were high. In 1987, Goetz was cleared of murder and assault charges, but was convicted of illegal gun possession and served 250 days in prison. In April 1996, Darrell Cabey won a civil lawsuit against Goetz and was awarded $43 million by a Bronx jury. Goetz declared bankruptcy soon after the rulings.

In 2001, Goetz made an unsuccessful bid for New York City mayor. In 2013 he was charged with trying to sell marijuana to an undercover police officer. The charges were dismissed by a judge in September 2014 for lack of a speedy trial.

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Pyramid mystery unearthed


Year
1984
Month Day
January 12

An international panel overseeing the restoration of the Great Pyramids in Egypt overcomes years of frustration when it abandons modern construction techniques in favor of the method employed by the ancient Egyptians.

Located at Giza outside Cairo, some of the oldest manmade structures on earth were showing severe signs of decay by the early 1980s. Successful repair work began on the 4,600-year-old Sphinx in 1981, but restoration of the pyramids proved destructive when water in modern cement caused adjacent limestone stones to split. On January 12, 1984, restorers stopped using mortar and adopted the system of interlocking blocks practiced by the original pyramid builders. From thereon, the project proceeded smoothly.

The ancient Egyptians built nearly 100 pyramids over a millennium to serve as burial chambers for their royalty. They believed that the pyramids eased the monarchs’ passage into the afterlife, and the sites served as centers of religious activity. During the Old Kingdom, a period of Egyptian history that lasted from the late 26th century B.C. to the mid-22nd century B.C., the Egyptians built their largest and most ambitious pyramids.

READ MORE: How Did Egyptians Build the Pyramids?

The three enormous pyramids situated at Giza outside of Cairo were built by King Khufu, his son, and his grandson in the Fourth Dynasty. The largest, known as the Great Pyramid, was built by Khufu and is the only one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” from antiquity that still survives. The Great Pyramid was built of approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone and stood nearly 50 stories high upon completion. Its base forms a nearly perfect and level square, with sides aligned to the four cardinal points of the compass.

The Great Pyramid is composed primarily of yellowish limestone blocks and was originally covered in an outer casing of smooth light-colored limestone. This finer limestone eroded and was carried away in later centuries, but the material can still be found in the inner passages. The interior burial chamber was built of huge blocks of granite. It is believed that construction of the pyramid took 20 years and involved over 20,000 workers, bakers, carpenters, and water carriers. The exact method in which this architectural masterpiece was built is not definitively known, but the leading theory is that the Egyptians employed an encircling embankment of sand, brick, and earth that was increased in height as the pyramid rose.

In addition to Khufu’s mummy, interior rooms of the pyramid held objects for the deceased to use in the afterlife. Many of these items were valuable, and tomb robbers had long ago robbed the pyramids of their treasures before modern archeologists began studying the structures in the 17th century.

King Khafre, the grandson of Khufu, built the Great Sphinx, which was carved from a single block of limestone left over in a quarry used to build the pyramids. The Sphinx has the body of a recumbent lion and a human face meant to represent Khafre. There are no known inner chambers in the structure.

READ MORE: 10 Awe-Inspiring Photos of the Ancient Pyramids of Egypt

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Last U.S. Marines leave Beirut


Year
1984
Month Day
February 26

The last U.S. Marines sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force leave Beirut, the war-torn Lebanese capital where some 250 of the original 800 Marines lost their lives during the problem-plagued 18-month mission.

In 1975, a bloody civil war erupted in Lebanon, with Palestinian and leftist Muslim guerrillas battling militias of the Christian Phalange Party, the Maronite Christian community, and other groups. During the next few years, Syrian, Israeli, and United Nations interventions failed to resolve the factional fighting, and on August 20, 1982, a multinational force including 800 U.S. Marines was ordered to Beirut to help coordinate the Palestinian withdrawal.

The Marines left Lebanese territory on September 10 but returned in strengthened numbers on September 29, following the massacre of Palestinian refugees by a Christian militia. The next day, the first U.S. Marine to die during the mission was killed while defusing a bomb. Other Marines fell prey to snipers. On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber driving a van devastated the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. Then, on October 23, a Lebanese terrorist drove a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. That same morning, 58 French soldiers were killed in their barracks two miles away in a separate suicide terrorist attack. The identities of the embassy and barracks bombers were not determined, but they were suspected to be Shiite terrorists associated with Iran.

After the barracks bombing, many questioned whether President Ronald Reagan had a solid policy aim in Lebanon. Serious questions also arose over the quality of security in the American sector of war-torn Beirut. The U.S. peacekeeping force occupied an exposed area near the airport, but for political reasons the Marine commander had not been allowed to maintain a completely secure perimeter before the barracks attack. In a national address on the night of October 23, President Reagan vowed to keep the Marines in Lebanon, but just four months later he announced the end of the American role in the peacekeeping force. On February 26, 1984, the main force of Marines left Lebanon, leaving just a small contingent to guard the U.S. embassy in Beirut.

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Navy captain becomes the first human to perform an untethered space walk


Year
1984
Month Day
February 07

While in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Captain Bruce McCandless II becomes the first human being to perform an untethered space walk, when he exits the U.S. space shuttle Challenger and maneuvers freely, using a bulky white rocket pack of his own design. McCandless orbited Earth in tangent with the shuttle at speeds greater than 17,500 miles per hour—the speed at which satellites normally orbit Earth—and flew up to 320 feet away from the Challenger. After an hour and a half testing and flying the jet-powered backpack and admiring Earth, McCandless safely reentered the shuttle.

Later that day, Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stewart tried out the rocket pack, which was a device regarded as an important step toward future operations to repair and service orbiting satellites and to assemble and maintain large space stations. It was the fourth orbital mission of the space shuttle Challenger.

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Hulk Hogan beats Iron Sheik to win first WWF title


Year
1984
Month Day
January 23

On January 23, 1984, Hulk Hogan becomes the first wrestler to escape the “camel clutch”—the signature move of reigning World Wrestling Federation (WWF) champion Iron Sheik—as he defeats Sheik to win his first WWF title, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Only one month earlier, the Iron Sheik—born Hossein Khosrow Vaziri in Tehran, Iran—had defeated the celebrated Bob Backlund in a controversial match, ending Backlund’s WWF-championship reign of almost six years. A rematch was scheduled, but Backlund was injured, and Hulk Hogan–born Terry Gene Bollea in Augusta, Georgia–was given his spot. Six-foot-eight and around 300 pounds, with long blond hair and bronzed skin, Hogan entered the ring to his theme song, Survivor’s hit “Eye of the Tiger,” electrifying the Garden crowd. After the Sheik took an early advantage, Hogan turned the match around. He landed a kick to the Sheik’s face and followed up with a leg drop–jumping in the air and landing his leg on his fallen opponent. The bout was over in five minutes and 40 seconds, and Hogan was the new WWF champion.

The victory began what became known as “Hulkamania,” as Hogan’s phenomenal popularity led to a golden age for professional wrestling. A Southern, working-class hero in the eyes of his fans, Hogan advised young “Hulkamaniacs” to say their prayers and take their vitamins, and to believe in themselves. His championship reign lasted four straight years, and his enduring popularity brought unprecedented mainstream attention to the sport. He lost the WWF title in 1988 to Andre the Giant but regained it the following year with a win over Randy “Macho Man” Savage; he would hold it four times between 1989 and 1993.

The WWF and owner Vince McMahon launched the first wrestling pay-per-view event, WrestleMania, in 1985, and Hogan headlined eight of the first nine WrestleMania fights. After taking a year off to concentrate on television and movie roles, Hogan signed with a rival league, Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW), helping to foster what was known as a “New World Order.” He won the WCW championship title six times between 1994 and 1999, before returning to McMahon’s league–now known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Plagued by knee injuries, he left wrestling in 2003, but returned two years later amid hoopla over his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Since 2005, Hogan has made a limited number of appearances in the WWE arena.

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Bill Johnson becomes first American to win Olympic gold in downhill skiing


Year
1984
Month Day
February 16

On February 16, 1984, Bill Johnson becomes the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in downhill skiing, a sport long dominated by European athletes. Johnson quickly became a national hero, though his fame was short-lived, and he never again competed in the Olympics.

William Dean Johnson was born March 30, 1960, and grew up in a working-class family in Oregon. He was frequently in trouble as a child and was once was arrested for stealing a car. In January 1984, the little-known Johnson, then 23, became the first American man to win a World Cup downhill race, at Wengen, Switzerland, and he boldly predicted he would take home a gold medal the following month at the Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

To the amazement of the skiing world, the prediction came true on February 16, 1984, when he finished the men’s downhill with a time 1:45:59 and beat Switzerland’s Peter Muller, a favorite to win the race, by .27 seconds. Johnson won two more World Cup races that season. However, his newfound fame seemed to go to his head and his brash, cocky personality alienated many in the ski community. Additionally, Johnson lived a lavish, hard-partying lifestyle and stopped winning races. In 1988, he was left off the U.S. ski team for the Olympic Games in Calgary.

At age 40, Johnson attempted to stage a comeback and qualify for the U.S. ski team for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. However, in March 2001, he suffered a devastating crash at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Big Mountain Resort near Whitefish, Montana. The crash put him in a coma for several weeks and left him with brain damage. 15 years after the accident, Johnson died on January 21, 2016.

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Baltimore Colts move to Indianapolis

Year
1984
Month Day
March 28

On March 28, 1984, Bob Irsay (1923-1997), owner of the once-mighty Baltimore Colts, moves the team to Indianapolis. Without any sort of public announcement, Irsay hired movers to pack up the team’s offices in Owings Mills, Maryland, in the middle of the night, while the city of Baltimore slept.

Robert Irsay gained control of the Colts in 1972 when he essentially traded his ownership in the Los Angeles Rams with Caroll Rosenbloom, then the owner of the Colts franchise. The Colts, led by quarterback Johnny Unitas, halfback Lenny Moore and defensive linemen Gino Marchetti and Art Donovan, had been the best team in the NFL in the late 1950s and had come to embody the working class spirit of Baltimore. The players lived among the fans, worked alongside the fans in the off-season and performed with evident pride in their adopted city. It wasn’t until Irsay purchased the team that the franchise began its downward spiral. After winning Super Bowl V in 1971, the Colts had a few winning years, but by the late 1970s, the franchise was so bad that when future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway was drafted number one overall by the Colts out of Stanford in 1983, he refused to report to the team, saying he would play baseball for the New York Yankees instead. The Colts were forced to trade Elway to the Denver Broncos.

To make matters worse for the Colts, Irsay was by most accounts a difficult boss–he was infamous for his temper and was known to angrily lash out at players and employees. In 1984, Irsay asked the city of Baltimore to pay for improvements to Memorial Stadium, where the Colts played. But, here again, his irascibility may have gotten in the way. Although the two sides told different stories of what went on in the negotiations, it did not go well by any account, and on March 28, the Maryland state legislature passed a law allowing they city of Baltimore to seize the Colts from Irsay. Rather than give up his team, Irsay quickly took a deal offered by the city of Indianapolis and moved the Colts before anyone knew what had happened. Baltimore fans were stunned, and the Colts marching band, long a fixture at games, defiantly continued to perform in the city.

Football did not return to the Charm City until 1996, when Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell (1925-2012), in a dispute with the city of Cleveland over the stadium the Browns played in, agreed to move the Browns to Baltimore in return for a brand-new stadium built with taxpayer money. Although the Browns had enjoyed many years of success and rabid fan support while in Cleveland, Modell claimed that financial hardship forced his hand. The Browns were renamed the Baltimore Ravens after the poem “The Raven,” penned by Baltimore native Edgar Allen Poe. Under the leadership of General Manager Ozzie Newsome, a Browns Hall of Famer, the franchise has seen consistent success in Baltimore, including victory in Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, with many players that had actually been drafted as Browns. 

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