How many of you are reading this on an iPhone? An iMac? A MacBook? An iBookMac mini 2s? An iBiscuit 48586c? An iToilet? Probably all of you (if not, kudos – you’re an espresso in a Frappuccino world).
“Oh lord”, I hear you moan. “Not another bloody Apple-bashing piece. We get it, they’re evil. Steve Jobs was a bit of a meany. They’re currently building Bond villain-style headquarters in California. It’s just, at the end of the day, their products are so damn shiny.”
Woah, steady on. I honestly couldn’t give two hoots about all of that. I simply don’t care about processor speeds, smartphone monopolies and emerging market blahblahblahs. No, what I’m “interested” in is the logo.
I mean, when push comes to shove, it’s just a fucking apple. You know, those things that fall from trees and can be scrunched into undrinkable yellow, alcoholic liquids for sideburned farmers and rowdy teenagers.
Yet, Apple’s logo is now a borderline religious symbol, one that we see every time we blink – one that’s probably indelibly etched onto the back of our necks. But why did they choose this most common and elemental of shapes? Why not a kumquat? Also, how the hell do you trademark a fruit?
Well, despite what the company would like you to believe, the apple has existed in art, design and literature for thousands of years. Often imbued with mystical symbolism, apples appear in everything from surreal Medieval “marginalia” (see below) to daubed expressionist still-lifes to those Magritte paintings.
So how did Rob Janoff, the man who designed the logo, settle on something so bleeding obvious? Is there any ulterior meaning behind it? There have been a few romantic rumours spinning around for decades.
First, it’s a tribute to Alan Turing. Having been shunned by the establishment and forced to undergo treatment to “cure” his homosexuality, the mathematician bit into an apple he had spiked with cyanide to commit suicide. The story (for that’s what it is) goes that this was then picked up by Apple, who decided to include his bite mark in their design. Alas, Janoff himself has disproved this theory, saying: “I’m afraid it didn’t have a thing to do with it. It’s a wonderful urban legend.”
Second, it represents wisdom a la Tree of Knowledge from the Bible. I believe this is a little too on-the-nose for those kooky Californians and, seeing as the aforementioned tree probably bore pomegranates (if it existed at all, which, let’s face it, is a pretty big if), is redundant.
Third, it’s a tribute to Isaac Newton. Yawn, boooooring! This was the accepted theory for a long time, thanks to the release of Apple’s much-maligned Newton PDA, but again would show a serious lack of imagination for a company that prides itself on its creative process.
Unfortunately, the answer – ladies and gentlemen – is rather more prosaic. The current thinking is that…drumroll please…the bite mark represents bytes. Blimey. If true, it probably explains why Steve Jobs was so tight-lipped over its origin: the rumours were far more interesting than the truth.
WORDS: MAX FIGGETT