EXCLUSIVE: Watch Steve Jobs play FDR in Apple's long-lost takeoff on famous '1984' Macintosh TV commercial

Nine-minute film called '1944' was produced to inspire Apple sales team to take on IBM

If all you want to see is Steve Jobs playfully portraying Franklin Delano Roosevelt - right down to the cigarette holder - here's that short clip before we get to the longer version of the film that it's taken from and an explanation:

Entitled "1944," the almost 9-minute full version was Apple's in-house takeoff on "1984," the iconic first Macintosh TV ad that caused a sensation during that year's Super Bowl. Set as a World War II tale of good vs. IBM, it is a broadcast-quality production (said to have cost $50,000) that was designed to fire up Apple's international sales force at a 1984 meeting in Hawaii. A copy of "1944" was provided to me by one-time Apple employee Craig Elliott, now CEO of Pertino Networks, a cloud-computing startup located two blocks from Apple in Cupertino. (Update, May 8: Filmmakers tell story of how Jobs came to play FDR.)

Elliott, who worked at Apple from 1985 to 1996, says he has "never seen (the film) anywhere else" and that there has been "no additional circulation" as far as he knows. I couldn't find it online, either - the year 1984 was pre-World Wide Web, of course -- which doesn't mean it isn't out there. Two snippets from "1944," without any dialogue, do appear in another Jobs video - a photo-montage tribute to him made by Apple employees to mark his 30th birthday. After Jobs died last October, Elliott posted that birthday video to his Facebook page, from where it went viral before being knocked off the 'Net by Sony Music Entertainment because it used a Bob Dylan song.

(Steve Jobs and his gadgets ... in LEGO) 

Here's the full version of "1944."

(25 other geeky happenings from 1984)

Anyone who's seen the TV commercial no doubt recognized in this film the reprised role of the female hammer thrower, although I'm not sure if it's actually Anya Major from "1984." And, if you recall, Apple's famous ad ended with a narrator intoning: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will release Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.' " As you just saw, this film begins: "On January 24, 1984, Apple Computer introduced Macintosh. And we saw why 1984 was like ... 1944."

While professional actors play the key roles in "1944," there are other Apple employees besides Jobs on screen, including Mike Murray, then vice president of marketing, as The General, according to Elliott. Because allegations that Macintosh lacked software had dogged Apple prior to its release, the film takes pains in several places to counter that criticism, including purported pledges of support from Microsoft's Bill Gates, as well as Mitch Kapor of pre-IBM Lotus Development Corp. The crate smashed open by the hammer thrower spills a pile of software.

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(Update: Among the reviews of "1944": Bizarre, weird, bananas, disturbing.)

(Update 2, May 8: Three who helped make "1944" tell how Jobs came to play FDR and Charlie Chaplin almost had a "cameo.") 

Here's a transcript of "1944":

A colonel addresses the troops

Narrator: "Assault ... landing ... the first beachhead of freedom on a vast continent of oppression. The start of a long fight for liberation, a fight against all odds. And leading the forces of freedom is ... Macintosh."


(Colonel arrives in Jeep; soldiers gather round.)

Colonel: "Troops of the Fighting 32nd, we have taken the beachhead."


"But now it's time for our next assault. The enemy is here, and here, and here."

(Points to map labeled IBM.)

"We shall advance."


"Millions are held captive by enemy machinery, wasting hour upon hour, processing processes, thinking about thinking, accomplishing ... nothing."

(Cut to images of zombie-like office workers)

"Yes, they have the plague, but we have the cure. We have a vision of a new kind of office, the MacIntosh office."

(Wild cheers)

"One Mac can change a person's way of life. Imagine the power of many Macs tied together in the MacIntosh office. Imagine the power of Mac offices multiplying around the globe, the power to smash the Big Blue monoblob."

(More wild cheering, followed by a lone voice)

Soldier: "How we going to do it, sir?"

"That's an excellent question, corporal. ... (cut to name tag on uniform that reads: WOZYSLOZMNSKI) .. Y-ya, Y-ye? ..."

Soldier: "They call me Fat Bit, sir"

Colonel, continuing: "We'll fight them in the office, and the classroom, and the desktop, with superior weapons - hardware - newly developed ammo - software, and lots of it. ... Remember, the enemy is big, but we are smart. They are the elephant, we are the mouse." 

(More cheering, and the Colonel begins to walk away)

Colonel: "One more thing: Let us never forget the glorious victories of the past: World War I, World War II, Two-Plus, Two-E, and Two-C"

One solider to another: "What about 3?"

Second soldier: "We don't talk about 3."


Playing cards

(Cut to three soldiers playing cards; Fat Bit/Woz in the middle)

First soldier: "I'll see your 6502, and I'll raise you a 6800."

Fat Bit: "Gin."

Third soldier: "We're playing poker here."

Hometown shoutout

(Cut to sergeant entering a tent where a private is typing on a Mac)

Sergeant: "Homesick private?"

Private: "Kinda nervous, Sarge. Think we'll make it back?"

Sergeant: "Sure. Hey, where ya from, private, Brooklyn?"

Private: "No, Sarge, Cupertino."

Who's ready?

(Cut to another tent where officers are meeting around a table)

Soldier: "Uh, Colonel, the General is here."

Colonel: "Oh, sure, and Mac has software."

Soldier: "Sir, he really is here."

Colonel: "Oh, General, General, it's so good of you to join us. ... Shall we begin?"

(Officers take seats; Colonel goes around the table asking each officer for status updates)

Colonel: "512s?

"Ready, sir."






"Yes sir."


"Ready to roll."


"On target, sir."


"Uh, uh, goldbricking in Hawaii, sir."


"Applications in quantity, sir."

(whisphering) "Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir, General Kapor said we'd have it 1, 2, 3, and General Gates gave me his word."

(Colonel sits back with a smug look on his face.)


Jobs as FDR

(Phone rings. Call is for the General)

Soldier: "For you, sir. It's the chief"

(Cut to Steve Jobs as FDR, shot from the side obscuring his face)

FDR/Jobs: "General, you and your brave fighting force have a rendezvous with destiny. Your battle will be long, it will be hard, but it will be won. I am sure your victory will be great."

(Hangs up the phone, turns toward camera; drops FDR voice and says)

"Insanely great."

(Cut to General)

"Go get 'em, Blue Busters."

The finale

(The rest of the film shows the troops of the Fighting 32nd liberating the zombie office workers by replacing their desktops with Macs. One of the zombies, a blonde woman, clicks the button on her new mouse and hears ...)

"Hello, I am Macintosh."

The other zombie workers gather around the clearly delighted blonde zombie and not only are they all smiling, but not a one looks like a zombie anymore.

(Inspirational music)

Narrator: "And so the Fighting 32nd begins its rendezvous with destiny. The battle will be long, and it will be hard, but it will be won. For the commandoes of the Fighting 32nd have on their side the most powerful weapon on Earth: an idea whose time has come."

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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