The “Switcher” who became an an Internet phenomenon

Ellen Feiss in Apple “Switcher” TV Commercial

Prior to Apple’s “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” series of television commercials, the company ran the “Switch” campaign beginning in 2002. The ads featured ex-Windows users discussing the assorted bad experiences that motivated them to switch to a Macintosh. Some of the ads featured celebrities such as Tony Hawk and Will Ferrell.

But of all the “Switchers”, Ellen Feiss was perhaps the most notable. A high school sophomore at the time, Feiss told the story of her Windows PC destroying a term paper she was writing. (“It’s kind of… a bummer.”)

When the “Switcher” ad featuring her first aired, why did Ellen Feiss gain immense notoriety overnight and become an Internet phenomenon?

The stunning 1984 debut.. directed by who?

Apple’s 1984 TV commercial

Considered to be a masterpiece in advertising, Apple’s stunning “1984″ advertisement, which aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVII on January 22, 1984, announced the introduction of the Macintosh.

The 60-second TV advertisement was produced at a cost of $900,000 and had the looks of a big budget movie. It sent a message to viewers that Apple was an independent company creating a revolutionary product that would change the technology landscape.

Who directed Apple’s “1984” television commercial?

The Hollywood debut of Justin Long (aka “Mac”)

The “Get a Mac” advertising campaign. Image credit: Apple

We’re on a little Apple advertising kick so far this week, and why not? We’re going to keep it rolling with a look of Apple’s current campaign.

Now in it’s fourth year, Apple’s “Get a Mac” TV advertising campaign employs the humor of “PC”, played by John Hodgman, interacting with laid-back “Mac”, played by Justin Long.

Long has made quite a few TV and movie appearances in addition to starring in the “Get a Mac” commercials. Some of his more notable big screen appearances include playing Justin in “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” and appearing as Brandon in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”.

In which of the following movies did actor Justin Long make his feature-film debut?

The Mac OS: ready for Y2K

Remember when we all thought that after a night of drinking and partying to ring in the New Year, we’d wake up and there would be cash pouring out of ATMs, traffic lights failing and all out chaos? Maybe some of our fears never turned out to be true, but the Y2K switchover was more of a nuisance if you owned a Windows PC.

Some DOS and Windows users would end up seeing some funny looking dates if they hadn’t applied update patches by the time 2000 rolled around. Apple made light of this fact, pointing out that Mac users didn’t have to do anything to get ready for Y2k. The Mac OS was already prepared and Apple emphasized in a TV ad it ran in 1999.

What prominent science fiction movie character did Apple use in its Y2K TV advertisement?

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Images from Apple’s “Crazy Ones” TV commercial, part of the “Think Different” campaign. Image credit: Apple

Recently, the folks over at Patently Apple pointed out that Apple renewed its “Think Different” trademark. (Does the company intend to work the “Think Different” tagline back into its communications?) Whatever the case may be, most Apple fans fondly remember this campaign that featured the award-winning “Crazy Ones” TV commercial.

Apple first aired the Think Different “Crazy Ones” TV commercial on September 28th, 1997, during the broadcast premiere of Toy Story. The ad was an attempt to associate Apple with the creativity of people making an impact on the twentieth century.

Which of the following famous personalities was NOT featured in a “Think Different” advertisement?

Funny Macintosh alert sounds

Adjusting alert sounds in the OS X System Preferences Window

If you do something stupid, or your Macintosh needs your attention, it will let you know through the use of the alert sound. Most seasoned Mac users will adjust the alert sound at some point by going into System Preferences.

Most of the available alert sounds have names that coincide with the sound coming out of the speakers. “Glass” sounds like somebody tapping a wine glass with a fork. “Pop” sounds like… well, a ‘popping’ sound. But there’s one sound in there that carries an unusual name.

The Macintosh alert sound called “Sosumi” is related to what?

Post a response in the comments if you think you know the answer. We’ll post the real answer tomorrow.

Revolutions are expensive

Apple Lisa. Image credit: Apple

Many factors need to be in place to make a new product truly revolutionary and successful. The Apple Lisa possessed many of these factors. It was the first personal computer sold that used a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and had other advanced features such as protected memory and a built-in screensaver. Targeted at primarily business customers, the computer came supplied with a comprehensive selection of business application programs.

But the Lisa was a commercial failure for Apple, mostly due to one critical factor: its incredibly high price (relative to competing IBM PCs).

How much did the very advanced but notoriously expensive Apple Lisa computer retail for when it was introduced in 1983?

Think you know the answer? Post a response in the comments and we’ll post the answer later.

The biography of Steve Jobs

A coveted writing assignment

What makes a guy like Steve Jobs tick? His incredible vision, determination and insight into technology have made him the subject of many books, none of them authorized by the man himself. But it was recently reported in a New York Times article that Mr. Jobs will collaborate with author Walter Isaacson on an authorized biography.

Those readers interested in learning about the life Mr. Jobs will no doubt recall the hubbub surrounding his disapproval of some of the books about his life.

Which unauthorized biography of Steve Jobs infuriated the Apple CEO so much that all titles by the publisher of the book were pulled from Apple Stores?

Think you know the answer? Post a response in the comments and we’ll post the answer later.

Call the fire department, honey!

Do I smell something burning in here?

In the mid-1990s, Apple’s reputation had begun to take a hit, in part due to the fact that the company failed to maintain its competitive lead in laptop computers. When Apple shipped the first batch of new PowerBooks containing the new PowerPC processor, things only got worse.

Two of the early production models caught fire. The new laptop model featured lithium-ion (LiIon) batteries that were manufactured by Sony, and the batteries could overheat and catch fire due to excess pressure inside the cells.

Nobody was hurt in the 2 incidents that occurred, but Apple’s reputation for quality was seriously hurt.

Which trouble-prone Apple laptop model had a habit of going up in smoke when it was first introduced?

Think you know the answer? Post a response in the comments and we’ll post the answer later.