How Did Apple Computers Get Its Name?

by Shane Hall; Updated September 26, 2017
Apple Reports Quarterly Earnings

Introduction

Apple Computer Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif., was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, two friends who shared an interest in electronics and belonged to the same computer club. Inspired by the then-popular Altair, a computer sold as a kit for at-home assembly, Jobs and Wozniak built their first computer, the Apple I, in Jobs’ parents' garage in Los Altos, Calif.. The Apple I was priced at $666.66.

Naming the Company

There are differing versions of how the company came to be known as Apple. The best-known version of the story is that Jobs used to work summers at a California apple farm and was fond of the crisp, round fruit. He also admired the Beatles’ label, Apple Records, which the Fab Four formed in the late 1960s. According to this version of the story, Wozniak and Jobs settled on Apple after they could not think of a better name.

Choosing a Logo

Settling on a logo for the new company took a little longer, however. An early design of the Apple logo featured Sir Isaac Newton under an apple tree, while a banner read “Apple Computer.” Jobs, however, thought this logo too busy and wanted a simpler one that consumers would instantly recognize and associate with the company. The next logo bore a close resemblance to the current one in use, displaying an apple, only without the single bite taken out of it. Jobs and Wozniak unveiled the next attempt at a logo –- the one still used by the company -– in 1977. The logo features an apple with a leaf and a single bite taken out of it. The bite taken out of the apple recalls the “byte,” a unit of measurement in the computer industry.

Macintosh Apple

The fruit theme continued at Apple with the introduction of its first Macintosh computer (popularly known today as the Mac or iMac) in 1984. Apple employee Jef Reskin wanted to design a user-friendly computer and reportedly named it after his favorite type of apple, the McIntosh. The spelling of the name was altered for legal reasons, as another company already used the name McIntosh. The Mac was the first computer to use a mouse and a graphical interface, two features now common in all computers.

Becoming Apple Inc.

The company was known as Apple Computer Inc. until 2006, when it changed its name to Apple Inc. to reflect its expansion from computers into home electronic devices. By this time, Apple’s iPod digital music device had made the company the leader in digital music players. With the introduction of the iPhone, Apple entered the mobile phone market as well.

About the Author

Shane Hall is a writer and research analyst with more than 20 years of experience. His work has appeared in "Brookings Papers on Education Policy," "Population and Development" and various Texas newspapers. Hall has a Doctor of Philosophy in political economy and is a former college instructor of economics and political science.

Photo Credits

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