Apple’s logo is one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of branding. For almost its entire history, the company has used the logo, which is a silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out of it. There have been numerous theories as to why the bite occurred, and it has been thought to be a nod to a number of famous figures in science and religion. The real reason for the bite in the logo is much simpler than that.
The original Apple logo was brighter than the silver or white version that now graces the company’s products; it debuted on the Apple II in 1977. Apple’s previous logo featured a drawing of Isaac Newton sitting beneath a tree. The apple that allegedly inspired Newton to begin working on his theory of gravity was depicted in the drawing. Some of the theories implying a link between the bite logo and Alan Turing, a man widely regarded as the father of modern computing, may have been inspired by the obvious reference to Newton.
Who was Alan Turing?
Alan Turing was born in 1912, and by the 1930s, he had laid the groundwork for modern computers. He created the algorithm as well as the concept of a computing machine that could run it. Turing’s work on codebreaking was critical to the allied war effort in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The cracking of the Enigma code, which the Germans thought was impossible, was one of the highlights.
Turing’s name can be found in stories and papers about artificial intelligence these days (AI). Turing’s Imitation Game, also known as the Turing Test, has long been regarded as a gold standard for AI to strive for. To pass the test, an AI would have to converse with a human while not revealing that it was a computer. Turing’s name is also associated with several electrical devices, including one of NVIDIA’s GPU architectures and a now-defunct cellphone company.
The codebreaking work of Turing and his team at Bletchley Park is widely credited with shortening the length of World War II and saving lives. Turing was also gay, which was illegal in the United Kingdom at the time. After the authorities discovered his relationship with a 19-year-old Manchester man, he was convicted of gross indecency and chemically castrated in 1952. Turing’s conviction overshadowed his later life, despite his pioneering work in computing and codebreaking (via Britannica).
So, how does any of this have anything to do with Alan Turing? Turing’s body was discovered near a cyanide-laced apple that had been eaten. Although his death was ruled a suicide, many people, including some official biographers, believe Turing died accidentally. In 2013, the codebreaker was granted a posthumous Royal Pardon (via BBC).
The real reason the logo has a bite
Was the logo’s missing bite a reference to Turing’s death, and its pride-flag-like appearance a nod to his conviction? Unfortunately, as compelling as the story sounds, it is not true. In an interview with Creative Bits, the logo’s creator, Rob Janoff, revealed the true reason for the bite. Janoff stated, “It’s a little disappointing when I explain why I did the bite. But I’ll tell you what. I designed it with a bite for scale so that people could tell it was an apple rather than a cherry. It was also kind of iconic to take a bite out of an apple.”
The designer also denied that the bite was a clever reference to the computing term byte, claiming that he was unaware of the term at the time: “My creative director told me after I finished designing it, ‘Well, you know, there is a computer term called byte.’ ‘You’re kidding!’ I exclaimed. So it was almost perfect, but it just so happened to be a computer term.”
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Janoff was also concerned that Steve Jobs would object to the logo’s unusual design, so when the two met, he presented the Apple founder with two designs, one with and one without the logo. He also provided a variety of tones and colors in case the original striped logo wasn’t well received. Fortunately, Jobs decided to go ahead with the outrageous design. “Steve liked the concept because he liked things that were out of the ordinary. And, while it is no longer revolutionary, it was at the time “Janoff stated. An account executive raised some concerns, but they were dismissed, and the logo remains in place to this day.