Back in November, our own personal Aleister Crowley of Cult of Mac, Leander, sat down and interviewed Ken Segall, the originator of the iMac name. According to Segall, Steve Jobs recognized he was “betting the company on the machine and so it needed a great name.” The only problem: the name Jobs had his heart set on was so bad it would “curdle your blood.” The original product name? MacMan, says Gizmodo.
Luckily, at the end of the day, iMac won out… but it wasn’t because Jobs let himself be swayed, according to Gizmodo’s sources, but rather because the name was already trademarked by a company called MidiMan, who had released a serial-to-MIDI adapter under that brand name. Apple made an offer; Midiman declined; Steve Jobs fumed and Segall got his way.
MacMan is, indeed, a blood-curdling name for a computer, but you can see the method in Jobs’ madness: bulbous and colorful, there is something about the original iMac’s design that channels the bouncing fruits of the famous 8-bit ghost gobbler… but it’s a name that would need to be abandoned as soon as the design was changed.
It’s interesting how different the entire Mac brand could be now if not for the serendipity of Jobs’ initial whim being thwarted. The lower case ‘i’ has transcendeded its initial meaning — Internet — and become a brand in its own right: an elegant prefix synonymous with iconic Apple product design.