History of the Apple Logo

Posted on April 26, 2013Apple-logo

Beyond Apple's epic legacy of innovative products lies an equally compelling history of corporate identity. The first Apple logo was designed by Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne in 1976, featuring Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. It was inspired by a quotation by Wordsworth that was also inscribed into the logo that said: "Newton... a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought" with 'Apple Computer Co.' on a ribbon banner ornamenting the picture frame.

Apple's first logo
It was a good start, but in the end Steve wasn't 100% convinced so in 1977 he commissioned designer Rob Janoff to focus more on the apple itself. Janoff did not disappoint, delivering the iconic logo we know so well, albeit a more colorful version dubbed the "rainbow apple". This was done to commemorate the discoveries of gravity (the apple) and the separation of light (the colors) done by Isaac Newton and possibly to tribute the 'fruit of the Tree of Knowledge' in Adam and Eve's story. Even the term 'Macintosh' refers to a particular variety of an apple of which Steve Jobs was fond. Living as a frugivore at the time he practically lived off apples.

Apple's rainbow logo by Rob Janoff
The logo not only stuck, but provoked further speculation to its meaning by designers at the time. Some believed that the rainbow colored Apple logo was used to advertise the color capability of the Apple II computer. Others, like author Sadie Plant of Zeroes and Ones, considers the Apple logo as homage to Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, who was persecuted for his homosexuality and committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple. Since then the logo endured small iterations over the years, taking on a stark black look in 1998, followed more 3D versions and finally the white or chrome versions we see today.

Evolution of Apple's logo
The speculation has not stopped however. Apart from the symbolism of the logo some designers have analyzed the actual design itself. Probably one of the more interesting studies is by graphic desiger Thiago Barcelos who applied the Fibonacci sequence, or Golden Ratio as the underlying structure of the logo itself. We can't say for sure if this was indeed the blueprint for Apple's logo, but Thiago's work illustrates one of the possible reasons why Apple's logo has endured the test of time.

Apple's fibonacci logo

It's incredible how far Apple has come since its humble inception nearly 40 years ago. The branding and marketing has no doubt kept up with it's frantic pace of innovation. The folks over at Edible Apple Blog poked a bit of fun with this idea, creating a mockup of what current Apple products might look like with the old rainbow logo. Little did they know that the idea would actually be appealing to some people. One blogger in particular developed his own tiny hack for getting a little taste of yesteryear in his new Macbook Pro. You can see more pictures of this little experiment here

Retro Macbook Hack

Today few companies enjoy the enthusiastic fanbase that Apple does, and it is clear that their visual prowess plays just as big a role in their success as the industry-shifting technology they are known for cranking out. It just hits home the importance of inspired marketing and presentation. Build the right brand and they will come.




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