This mousepad was likely released around the same time as Apple released the mid-1980s TV commercial with the tagline, “The Power to Be Your Best.”
The commercial features a man standing behind a window pensively looking at office workers wondering which computer is most powerful. A co-worker suggests that the answer can be found in system specifications, but the man concludes, “I think the most powerful computer is the one that people actually use.” A voiceover ends with the multicolor Apple logo and the words, “Macintosh, the power to be your best.”
This white mousepad doesn’t quite deliver on the ideal of “the best” because the “T” in the tagline at the top is in a different font (a sans serif font) than the rest of the phrase, “The power to be your best.” (Although this may be an intentional design choice.) In addition, the tagline font is not Apple’s corporate font of the time, Apple Garamond, and clashes with the font below it.
The lower-left corner features a large multicolor Apple logo and the logotype Apple Computer, Inc. (Apple’s official company name from 1977 until 2007 when it dropped “Computer” from its moniker).
This mousepad is 9 inches wide, 7.75 inches tall, and 0.25 inches thick. The mousepad has rounded edges and uses a thick, black, textured rubber pad. The bottom is also printed with the manufacturing company, COMPUTER EXPRESSIONS, Philadelphia, PA.
While not an official Apple item, the company NeXT was an important part of Apple’s history. NeXT was founded in 1985 by Steve Jobs after he was forced out of Apple. NeXT created computer workstations that were intended for use in higher education and business and ran an innovative operating system called NeXTSTEP.
The first Internet web server was a NeXTcube used by Tim Berners-Lee.
NeXT stopped making hardware in 1993 and focused on software such as the programming environments of NeXTSTEP and WebObjects.
Apple purchased NeXT in 1997 and Steve Jobs returned to Apple as an advisor. Apple ported the NeXT operating system to the Macintosh platform and the implementation became the Mac OS X operating system.
This NeXT mousepad is primarily black and features the NeXT logo on a six-sided design. It measures 8.125 x 8.125 inches with a shape that is stylized to appear as a black cube (matching the NeXT logo designed by Paul Rand). The mousepad has a rubber base with a textured bottom surface that is 0.125 inches thick. The back of the mousepad has two stickers, the manufacturer (Data Pad from Orem, Utah) and the product name (“SPEED PAD”).
This early Apple mousepad matches the beige plastics of the original Macintosh used from 1984 to approximately 1990 (Apple changed the Macintosh to to Platinum in 1990). The mousepad measures 8.5 x 11 inches with rounded edges and is 3/16 inch (0.1875) thick.
The mouse surface is a textured plastic that is showing some discoloring due to its age. It features a classic Apple multicolor logo in the lower-right corner. The bottom of the mousepad uses a rubber textured material.
In the early- to mid-1990s, Apple included a Registration Card in the box that came with every Macintosh (in the brown box labeled “Macintosh Essentials”). In my experience setting up these early Macintosh computers, Apple allowed users who filled out these “official” registration cards to choose from a subscription to MacWorld magazine or a free mousepad. In our school computer labs, we usually opted for the free mousepads.
This is an example of the free mousepad Apple sent. It is 8.75×7 inches, light gray (to match the platinum color of Apple computers of the time). The mousepad is in two layers, light gray plastic on top and black textured foamy rubber on the bottom, approximately 0.125 inches thick. The design is the word Apple® in black type nearly 3 inches tall in the font Apple Garamond, Apple’s corporate identity font of the time.
This thin plastic mousepad made from materials by the company Microthin features the blueberry Apple logo printed in a manner to simulate the translucent plastic Apple used in the iMac line of computers at the time. This mousepad is blue to match the blueberry iMac. Other versions of this design were available in the other five iMac colors: tangerine, lime, strawberry, grape, and graphite.
The bottom of the mousepad is covered in printed dots that provide traction to prevent slippage. The stickiness (tackiness) of the material is still viable after about 20 years and can be reactivated by rinsing any accumulated dust with water. However, the entire mousepad is beginning to show signs of yellowing.
Source: No official sources found, additional colors confirmed on eBay
This rectangular Think Different mousepad measures 7.5×8.5 inches with a solid black background. The design features the original multicolor Apple logo and the words Think Different (in white).
The bottom of the mousepad is covered in printed dots that provide traction to prevent slippage. The stickiness (tackiness) of the material is still viable after about 20 years and can be reactivated by rinsing any accumulated dust with water. However, the tacky substance on the bottom is beginning to show signs of yellowing.
The Think Different logo is a part of Apple’s now iconic ad campaign that played a major role in restoring Apple’s reputation and put the company on track to become the trillion-dollar company it became by 2018. The Think Different campaign was created by TBWA\Chiat\Day and officially ran from 1997–2002, however, Apple has occasionally hinted at the concept several times over the years on occasions such as when Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize (2007); when Steve Jobs died (2011); when the Macintosh turned 30 on January 24, 2014; and as recently as 2016 to commemorate the death of Muhammad Ali.