Apple Logo Evolution

It was 1976 and Jobs has been spending time on a friend’s farm picking apples when he told Wozniak of his idea for the name of their fledgling I.T. company. Was picking apples the inspiration? Perhaps one fell on his head and knocked free this gem of creativity, a-la Sir Issac Newton? Perhaps he just wanted to be ahead of Atari in the phone book? Whatever the case, Wozniak was equally taken with the moniker and the name stuck. All they needed then was a logo.

The first Apple Logo Design was by Ron Wayne, who also co-founded the company. It was rather elaborate in comparison to its later incarnations; as it depicted Newton under the famous apple tree, deep in contemplation. Steve Jobs felt it was a little too intellectual, and that the details were hard to distinguish. For those reasons it was only used on the Apple I.
In 1977 a second attempt at Apple logo design was undertaken by art designer Rob Janoff. The logo design was very simple- an apple with a bite taken out of it, adorned with all the colours of the rainbow, albeit in the wrong order. The symbolism here was genius; the bite symbolized knowledge, as in the Garden of Eden, and was also a play on words, as in computer “byte”. The colours suggested vibrancy and energy, but the wrong ordering of these colours suggested a break from the establishment- freedom, daring and enterprise, sentiments most befitting such a revolutionary technology. As Jean Louis Gassee put it, “You couldn’t dream of a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope and anarchy”.

The Apple logo design remained unchanged until 1997 when Steve Jobs decided to change from the multi-coloured look to a solid coloured logo design. This was simply fitting with the more minimalist fashion of the time, and perhaps to herald in a new era with the new millennium.

The only obstacle faced by the Apple Logo being cemented in popular cultures collective consciousness has been ongoing legal scuffles with Apple Records. Both founders knew when they came up with the name, that it would only be a matter of time before Apple Records voiced concern. In 1981 an agreement was reached allowing Apple Computer to use the name provided they didn’t use the name for products related to music. This peace was short lived as Apple Records sued Apple Computer in 1989 fro trademark violation, and again in 2003. The first instance was settled out of court in 1991, the most recent development remains unresolved.

The Apple logo design is at once simple and unforgettable. So effective in fact that it has remained largely unchanged for 20 years. An apple with a bite taken out of it. A universally recognised symbol of knowledge- one that remains emphatically so in this knowledge driven age.


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