Clearly, Apple is a name that sets it apart from its industry peers. We have Microsoft, Nvidia, IBM, AMD, Atari and thousands of other names that don’t make sense or are related to the technology in some way. But in the crowd, Apple seems to be a completely different story. Is there a deeper meaning behind the name, or does it just happen to be something that stuck with the founders in the early days of the company?
To find the answer, we will have to go back to the time when Apple Computers Inc. established. Two college dropouts and friends, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, created Apple on April 1, 1976. According to Ann Brashares, author of “Steve Jobs Thinks Defferent,” both Jobs and Wozniak both wanted to create a computer that ordinary people could keep in their homes and offices. Keep in mind that this is 1976 and computers are devices that take up a lot of space, even high profile computers can fill an entire room. Jobs and Wozniak teamed up to create a computer that was simple and compact enough for anyone in the world to own if they wanted to.
And Jobs and Wozniak kicked off their plan by creating Apple Computer and setting up the company headquarters in the Jobs family garage. And with enthusiasm and creativity, they were finally able to build their first computer, named “Apple I”. It seems that the name implies that the keyword “Apple” is something meaningful to the two, and also something that they feel strongly impressed with. Not really.
Steve Jobs came up with the name “Apple Company”
In the biography of Steve Jobs, penned by Walter Isaacson, Jobs tells the author that at the time he was currently on one of his fruit diets. And the day he named the company—which would change his life forever—he was on his way back from an apple farm. This is corroborated in Steve Wozniak’s autobiography, as it was Wozniak who drove Jobs back from the airport after that trip. And he said the company’s name was on the bus itself. Apparently, the place Jobs called “apple garden” was actually just some common place. And according to his own biography, Jobs suggested the name “Apple Company” because he thought it sounded “fun, uplifting and not too scary”.
Wozniak was not immediately convinced. By then, the famous Beatles had their own record label called Apple Records, and founding a company with a similar name could spell disaster for the fledgling company. These worries were not unfounded, as Apple Computer was later sued by Apple Records for trademark infringement. The lawsuit ended with an agreement that Apple Computer had to pay Apple Corps (the parent company that owns Apple Records) up to $80,000. For a budding company like Apple at the time, this could have been a heavy blow. But at least it didn’t stop the company’s later success.
The important role of the phone book
Another book, titled “Apple Confidential 2.0,” revealed that the company’s two co-founders were actually trying to figure out which name they liked better. Many names came up, such as Executex or Matrix Electronics, names that were more appropriate than Apple when describing a technology company at the time. But, the two still don’t seem to like any other name, and increasingly like the name Apple Computer. So that was the last name they chose.
Over the years, some speculation arose as to why Wozniak and Jobs chose that name for their company. One of the most commonly known reasons in the world is that they want Apple to be the first company name to appear in the phone book. At the time, phone directories were a big deal, and putting the company ahead of its competitors was essentially a free way of advertising. Jobs, who worked for Atari before founding Apple, said in a 1980 presentation that Apple Computer was created because he loved apples, and partly because it would come before Atari in the phone book.
Obviously, all the explanations as well as the evidence point to a main reason behind the name Apple. That is, both Jobs and Wozniak enjoyed it. And maybe, simply because they couldn’t think of a better name, and the focus of the two wasn’t the naming either, but to make the company workable for so many people. little or no money at all.
Who would have thought that years later, that garage-born temporary company would become a globally recognized tech giant, and their products consistently top the sales charts? year after year?
Life is often magical like that.