The truth about the Apple logo

UPDATE: 2012-11-06 Stephen Fry in discussing Alan Turing mentioned in episode 13 of season 09 (S09E13, Series I) of BBC TV intellectual quiz show “QI” that he asked Steve Jobs whether the story of the bite from Apple’s apple was done in honor of Turing. Apparently, Jobs told Fry that, “No, it wasn’t but God how he wished it was”.

It’s one of the most familiar icons around today and is showing up on sites across the globe as people mourn the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. But, what is the story about the Apple logo. The apple bit is obvious, that’s the name of the company, but what about the bite, the byte?

Rob Janoff, who designed the famous logo old school style using paper, pens, glue and art knife, explained in interview that there was no mystical undertone, no religious connection, no gay iconography (despite the colorful stripes):

“Adam and Eve didn’t have anything to do with it. The bite of knowledge sounds fabulous, but that’s not it. And, there is a whole lot of other lure about it. Turing the famous supposed father of computer science who committed suicide in the early 1950s was British and was accused of being homosexual, which he was. He was facing a jail sentence so he committed suicide to avoid all that. So, I heard one of the legends being that the colored logo was an homage to him. People think I did the colored stripes because of the gay flag. And, that was something really thought for a long time. The other really cool part was that apparently he killed himself with a cyanide laced apple. And, then I found out Alan Turing’s favorite childhood story was Snow White where she falls asleep forever for eating a poisoned apple to be woken up by the handsome prince.”

It is none of that.

“When I explain the real reason why I did the bite it’s kind of a let down. But I’ll tell you. I designed it with a bite for scale, so people get that it was an apple not a cherry. Also it was kind of iconic about taking a bite out of an apple. Something that everyone can experience. It goes across cultures. If anybody ever had an apple he probably bitten into it and that’s what you get.”

It was only after the design was done, that Janoff’s creative director pointed out that there is the computer term “byte”, meaning 8 “bits”.  But, that was coincidental too. “At the time I had to be told everything about basic computer terms,” Janoff says. Computers were a long way from mainstream at the time.

[Interview cribbed from what I believe is the original source Creative Bits, if you know otherwise please let me know.]

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Photographer and musician.