Today in Apple history: Apple Logo teaches kids to code


Apple Logo was Apple's first go at getting kids into coding.
Photo: Apple2history

tuesday14 Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple has been upping its focus on teaching kids to program — thanks to events such as its free “Hour of Code” classes at Apple Stores around the world.

But Apple’s been helping introduce young people to coding for far longer than that. In fact, years before Apple ushered in its Swift Playgrounds app as it did this week at WWDC, it helped popularize home programming thanks to Apple Logo, a basic coding language which found success on the Apple II.

“The Apple Logo language is intended to be an easy-to-use first computer language,” explained tech writer Alan Suding in the June 14, 1982 issue of InfoWorld, announcing the launch. “The purpose of Logo is to provide an environment for learning basic thinking schools.”

Apple Logo was incredibly basic. Users couldn’t create whatever app they wanted to with it; instead it was one part drawing program and one part coding class. Apple Logo allowed users to guide a triangular turtle around the screen of their Apple II — a line emanating from his tail — using commands like FORWARD 50 and RIGHT 90. Adding a command like REPEAT 4 and surrounding FORWARD 50 and RIGHT 90 with brackets, the turtle would draw a square.

The first version of Apple Logo could run on any 64K Apple II, although later versions like 1984’s Apple Logo II was for the Apple IIc or 128K Apple IIe. Still later versions included 3D Logo for the Apple IIGS, the most powerful Apple II computer Apple ever built.

Apple Logo wasn’t written by Apple, but by a company called Logo computer Systems in Quebec, Canada — although with input from Apple. Versions were also made for the then-new IBM PC, along with a few other platforms. It dated back as far as 1967, where it was developed at MIT to be a tool for learning. However, it wasn’t until it arrived on the the Apple II that it truly found its audience. You can read a version of its Apple II manual here.

Anyone here old enough to remember Apple Logo? Leave your comments below.