How Steve Jobs Almost Named The Safari Browser ‘Freedom’

How Steve Jobs Almost Named The Safari Browser ‘Freedom’

Over at his official blog, Don Melton — the guy behind Safari and WebKit — has a fascinating post up about the many possible names Steve Jobs tested out on friends and colleagues for Apple’s official web browser, before settling on Safari.

They were all terrible. Freedom was one strong candidate, amongst others with terrible names like Alexander and iBrowse.

According to Melton:

During the Summer of ‘02, Steve Jobs and the Apple management team realized that we were going to pull this off — we could actually ship a Web browser by the end of the year. And at one particularly good Human Interface design session, discussion turned to what we were going to call this — thing.

As I remember, Steve just started saying some names out loud — I suppose trying them out to see how they felt in his mouth and to his ears. Which is not as odd as it seemed then — it’s a good technique now that I think about it.

I don’t recall all the names, but one that stands out is “Freedom.” Steve spent some time trying that one out on all of us. He may have liked it because it invoked positive imagery of people being set free. And, just as possible and positive, it spoke to our own freedom from Microsoft and Internet Explorer, the company and browser we depended on at the time.

Of course, all I could think about was, “Please don’t let us name the browser after a feminine hygiene product!” But cooler heads and filthier minds prevailed.

If that name sounds too awful to have possibly been entertained by Steve Jobs, consider the fact that the iMac was almost called… the MacMan. Woof. This is not a guy who always got it right first try.

  • markbierzo

    “This is not a guy who always got it right first try”

    Like that’s what matters.

    Yep, leave it to us thumb-twidding bystanders to take snarky potshots at a guy with an unmatched track record of success like Steve Jobs.

    Spare a few seconds for a simple thought experiment. Pretend you never heard the names Chrome and Firefox in context – are they really that great names?

    But they don’t matter b/c names become invisible to us pretty quick.

  • Gadget

    “Please don’t let us name the browser after a feminine hygiene product!”
    Cue all the stale maxiPad jokes

  • HerbalEd

    Really creative people seldom get it right the first time. Often a bad idea is a stepping stone to a great one … and the road to success is paved with failures.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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