The Story Behind the Apple

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Tue 13th Nov, 2012

The Apple logo is one of the most well known logos in the world. You can scarcely go a day without coming across it. Millions of people go about their lives, relying on their Macs, iPads, or iPhones to get through the day, all without even a thought about the meaning behind Apple's famous trademark.

With the pervasiveness of this symbol, many theories have sprung up, such as relating to Isaac Newton, Adam and Eve and the programming term 'byte'. However, the leading theory involves the darker side to the birth of computers. Alan Turing, the father of "thinking machines" and a physicist at the University of Cambridge, in England, was obsessed with the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His favorite part of the story was when the witch offered Snow White the poisoned apple. On his free time, Turing would even experiment with making poisoned apples in his attic, where he would lace them with cyanide. During WWII, the eccentric Turing was recruited by Britain to work in the intelligence group 'Ultra,' aimed at intercepting Nazi intelligence. During this time, Turing created a machine (the Bombe) that cracked the Enigma code, helping the Allies win the war. Instead of being celebrated as a national hero, he was punished for being a homosexual and forced to undergo chemical castration with estrogen injections. The injections also altered his mental state and he ended up committing suicide. When the police found him on 7th June 1954, Turing had taken a bite of one of his cyanide apples, dying instantaneously. Many people interpreted Apple's logo as homage to Turing's sad end, inferring that the bite on the apple was his "death bite," and the rainbow of colored stripes on the apple (which was part of the logo until it was changed in 1998) represented the gay flag.

People read all types of intricate stories into symbols, and no one knows this better than Rob Janoff, the creator of the Apple logo. In April 1977, when the design firm where he worked assigned him this job, he went home and cut up slices of apples, staring at them for hours. He wanted to make a logo that was approachable, simple, and had character. After all, this was for the Apple II, a computer designated for people's homes. At that time, computers were thought to be only for big monolithic corporations with an army of tech geeks. He didn't want to scare people off. He settled on the apple with a piece missing from the right side. This 'bite' was for scale, so that people wouldn't mistake it for another kind of fruit, like a cherry. (I have a feeling that Cherry would have been a good computer company name) Also, the bite gave the company a more familiar feel, since everyone has had the experience biting into an apple. Lastly, the rainbow represents the Apple II's novel color monitor capability. This logo has been updated slightly over the years, becoming more glossy and industrial, but still clinging to the same image.

There is however, another mystery surrounding Apple that is more shrouded than its logo: its choice for a company name. There is no evidence to this story, but there are many rumors. Some people think that because Steve Jobs was a huge Beatles fan, he named the company in "honor" of the band's record label Apple Records. (The record company later sued Jobs.) Other people think that Steve wanted to give the company a name that was out of the box, and he was sick of impersonal computer company names like IBM. If the "impersonal name" theory is true, it definitely worked.

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