Apple Checks Off Every Great Invention in Human History in Ad for the MacBook Pro

New spot centers on the light bulb

These days, technology evolves at an incredibly fast pace. But Apple is reaching much further back into history to tell the story of just how much it thinks can happen next, with the help of its new MacBook Pro.

An ambitious new ad bridges humans' discovery of fire with space travel and smartphones using a classic symbol for the power of imagination—the light bulb.

A string of hundreds of the round glass lanterns, set up in the middle of a city's empty streets, explode in sequence to the sound of Rossini's William Tell Overture, tying together a montage of inventions spanning from the Stone Age to the Information Age.

There is the invention of the wheel, and writing, and the plow, and the bicycle, and the locomotive, and the flying machine, and the motorcycle, and eyeglasses, and binoculars, and the rotary phone, and the typewriter—and perhaps most important, toilet paper.

There's also the microwave, the camera, the record player, the television, the jetpack, the freezer, the paper clip, the Tamagotchi, the video camera, the computer mouse, the zipper, the wind farm, the jet plane, the microscope, the robotic hand, the robotic dog, the rocket ship, the iPhone, the drone, the satellite, the robotic man—and back, somewhere deep in the cave, a brand new laptop from Apple.

"Ideas push the world forward," declares the on-screen copy. "Introducing a tool for all the ideas to come." The obligatory product shot follows, with a hand demonstrating the video scroll function on the MacBook Pro's touch bar, one of the new features on the just-launched model. At the swipe of a finger, a lightbulb—surprise—explodes, then, with a simple reverse, becomes whole again.

The ad's visuals and scope evoke vague overtones of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and its era-spanning conceit is tangentially reminiscent of Guinness's classic reverse-evolution ad—albeit less silly in its payoff. And while there's no shortage of playful fanfare and bravado in Apple's commercial, it lacks the intimacy of recent iPhone7 spots.

Those, to be fair, are pushing a more personal product to a broader audience, whereas the MacBook Pro's target are more likely to fancy themselves genius creatives—or at least, to hope someday to fill that role. In that light, its message might seem less pretentious, even if it's still tricky to imagine a couple million years of human advancement happening within one generation of computers.

If nothing else, though, it's fun to watch all those light bulbs pop.

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.