August 24, 1981: Welcome IBM, Seriously

by Chris Seibold Aug 24, 2010

What was Apple's most successful ad campaign? Likely it was the one page ad the company took out in the Wall Street Journal welcoming IBM to the personal computer industry. The ad read:

"Welcome, IBM. Seriously. Welcome to the most exciting and important marketplace since the computer revolution began 35 years ago. And congratulations on your first personal computer. Putting real computer power in the hands of the individual is already improving the way people work, think, learn, communicate, and spend their leisure hours. Computer literacy is fast becoming as fundamental a skill as reading or writing. When we invented the first personal computer system, we estimated that over 140,000,000 people worldwide could justify the purchase of one, if only they understood its benefits. Next year alone, we project that well over 1,000,000 will come to that understanding. Over the next decade, the growth of the personal computer will continue in logarithmic leaps. We look forward to responsible competition in the massive effort to distribute this American technology to the world. And we appreciate the magnitude of your commitment. Because what we are doing is increasing social capital by enhancing individual productivity. Welcome to the task. Apple."

While some saw the ad as a tacit admission that Apple planned to be the number two computer maker, the marketing savvy saw the ad as Apple positioning itself as the only legitimate alternative to IBM. One marketing exec opined that people have a place in their minds for two of anything: Coke and Pepsi, Hertz and Avis, Bud Lite and Miller Lite. Apple wanted to be the alternative. Apple's arguably most effective ad ever appeared in the Wall Street Journal this week in 1981.


  • Apple’s market cap is now within 4% of IBM’s—no longer such a David to Goliath comparison.

    Sigma902 had this to say on Aug 24, 2009 Posts: 2
  • It was a bold and classy move by Apple to take out the ad, and the copy is pretty amazing to look back on.  It’s also interesting to note that first time Apple’s market cap was the most valuable in the world. Jonathan Berkowitz

    berkowitzjonathan05 had this to say on Aug 17, 2011 Posts: 8
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