How Apple Got Its Logo [Memory Lane]

How Apple Got Its Logo [Memory Lane]

There’s long been a number of urban legends about how Apple came up with its iconic logo.

There’s the idea that the bite symbolizes knowledge, or that the overall image is a tribute to mathematician Alan Turing, who committed suicide by taking a bite of an apple laced with cyanide.

But here’s the real story.

How Apple Got Its Logo [Memory Lane]

Rob Janoff, designer of Apple's iconic logo

The latter legend was incorporated into a Daily Mail article about Turing that I was reading.

[...] just two weeks before his 42nd birthday, the softly-spoken genius killed himself by taking a bite out of an apple that he had dipped in cyanide.

Some believe his bizarre death is commemorated to this day in the logo used by Apple on its electronic goods—so significant was his contribution to the genesis of the computer.

I was really surprised by the line and asked my colleagues here whether they’d ever heard of this.

I got an answer right away, and it came from Craig Grannell the designer of this website.

He interviewed the logo’s designer Rob Janoff a couple of years ago, and this is what Janoff told Grannell:

I bought a bunch of apples, put them in a bowl and drew them for a week or so to simplify the shape. The bite is about scale and the common experience of biting into an apple. It was a happy accident that ‘byte’ is a computer term, and there’s no truth to ‘biting from the fruit of knowledge’ symbolism myths!

The full interview with Janoff is now up on Grannell’s blog.

I like the idea of the bitten apple symbolizing the personal computer providing individuals with access to knowledge.

I’d love to know what you thought inspired the logo, or what you assumed it symbolized.

Please share in the comments section!

Related
  • Musken

    I always thought it was connected to Bibelism. Like Adam and Eva, they took a bite of the apple, which granted them wisdom and were able to see things they werent supposed to. So i i thought…

  • Bill

    I have seen it noted that this was the most expensive logo ever designed it used no black between the colored lines and thus was a bear to register for printers and (i can’t even imagine this )the guys who had to do it in plastic and get those lines of color dead straight so they could pop it onto monitors and printers.

    the designer says it had no Biblical implications i guess he thought the apple just got voted fruit of knowledge in a tea party poll.

  • akri

    Interesting..I thought first it was b/c Steve Jobs loves the Beatles (their recording studio was called Apple). Hey, I wonder why they named the company Apple? Any chance of anyone knowing this that can let me know? Tks.

  • Eakster

    I thought I heard they had trouble picking a name and Steve said if we don’t come up with a name by today we will call it… (looks around room and sees an apple) Apple!

  • Bill Gates

    Adding the multicolor flag symbolism it represent “a bite of knowledge for everyone”

  • boastboy

    As far as I can discern the original Apple logo was Newton sitting under a tree http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F
    and so I naturally thought the new logo was a stylized Newtons Apple (pun intended!)

  • Ramil

    it could be that the Apple symbolizes the forbidden fruit (in the Bible during Adam and Eve) which becomes the genesis of Man being separated from God (or some people call it the man gaining the knowledge) …and it all began when Adam took a bite (byte) of the apple

  • Buzz

    That was an apple?!? Oh, *now* I get it.

  • David

    The Bible does not specify that Adam and Eve at of an Apple. Genesis just records it as a fruit from a tree. If you studio the area where the garden of Edon was, you will discover that the forbidden fruit was more likely a fig.

    Finally, the original logo (as someone mentioned) was of Newton sitting under an Apple tree. Thus the phrase, “Think Different.” by association it is my understanding that this is what the Apple logo symbolizes.

  • Scarnox

    It’s said that the apple Newton got in the head was infact of the macintosh sort.

  • Alex

    All apples contain a small amount of cyanide in their seeds.

  • Bob_perkowski

    When Adam bit the Fruit of Knowledge he chose to be sentient. The legend is older than religion it is from humans talking around campfires wondering why they know they are alive, suffer pain and grieve for lost companions while animals apparently don’t. The subsequent religions usurped the Garden Story as well as The Flood Story and Creation Story. I am convinced that whether the Logo Designer consciously or intuitively chose the Bitten Apple for the logo it illustrates that concept. That it is the Bite of Knowledge that took us out of Nature and set us on a defiant path.

  • TGIFurry

    Ahem. If you look at enough pre-Janoff Apple logos you’ll see an apple with the word “apple” overlapping it; the round lower-case a makes a round cut on the right just as the current version does. Janoff merely cleaned up an existing logo.

  • RB

    gad… there are some really lame comments below like this one…”I have seen it noted that this was the most expensive logo ever designed it used no black between the colored lines and thus was a bear to register for printers” Huh!? What a load.

  • juju_crystal

    I thought, because Newton discovered gravity by Apple, so it was worth reverence apples and put this logo for any products u think is so good for human and life :) ??
    But now i know y stev choose this logo cuz he worked in apple farm *

About the author

Sarah Lai Stirland

Sarah Lai Stirland is from the gadget and status-crazed island of Hong Kong, where even sampan drivers enjoy showing off their latest gizmos. Sarah's work has appeared in Congress Daily, National Journal, POLITICO, Portfolio.com, Red Herring, The Village Voice, and Wired.com, among other places. She now lives with her husband, cat and her young gadget-obsessed, button-pushing daughter in San Francisco. Follow Sarah on Twitter at @LaiStirland

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