I'll show you mine if you show me yours

It's hard to remember back when laptops weren't so ubiquitous in life, but just 12 years ago,although the market was growing rapidly, they were still a bit of a novelty item.   Apple responded to the success of its redesigned Powerbook computer the year before with its "What's on your PowerBook?" 1996 ad campaign.

Each ad gave us a look into the hard drive contents of two very different individuals, the underlying idea being how the Powerbook itself was an expression of your own life and interests.  The pairings alone were kind of interesting, but it was the fun of rummaging through their personal files that made the ads so irresistible -- even though the contents invariably ended up not being particularly provocative, like sneaking a peek inside someone's diary and reading, "Today I got up and brushed my teeth."  Yes, your desktop computer could hold all the same information, but this campaign is emotionally, not rationally based.

In the ad above (you can click on it to see a larger, more readable version), we see that Sales Manager Barry Ashley stores product inventories, customer lists, his stock broker's phone number and -- I guess to show he's more just than his job -- his sister's recipe for spaghettini.   Brian Durkin, a bike messenger/screenwriter files his screenplays, notes from his screenwriting class, story ideas and "thoughts on self-improvement," which probably don't include anything along the lines of buying clothes that fit and getting a real job.

Other ads in the series contrasted the laptop contents of (publisher and ex-wife of Norman) Frances Lear and author Tama Janowitz; tennis pro Martina Navratilova and pro football player Art Monk; and, most puzzlingly, a priest and musician Todd Rundgren.


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