The process of growing ideas into profitable startups is not unlike that of agriculture. It starts with a seed, a small ovule with the power to become something bigger, something that will yield the fruit of your labor and produce yet more seeds as long as you plant it, fertilize it and water it. With business, the seed is an idea, the soil may be an incubator, the fertilizer seed(!) money, and the water good marketing. It’s no wonder then that the comparisons run rampant.
Perhaps Steve Jobs, too, saw the similarities. A rumored frutarian (it’s a thing, Google it) and proponent of orchards, he, along with Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak, launched one of the world’s most successful computer companies. Named simply, Apple Computer. The name lands softly, and with familiarity, among other computer companies like IBM, Intel, and Microsoft. Apple Computer, even in 1976, was a departure from what most thought a technology company should encompass.
This departure wasn’t an accident. One of the reasons cited for the name behind Apple in Walter Isaacons’ biography of Jobs, is that the name is “fun, spirited and not intimidating.” Though rumors were once the only source of origin for the etymology of the company, footage from a presentation in 1980 at long last revealed the truth from Jobs himself. He faulted the need for a fictitious business name statement that was required to launch a business.
Why is it called Apple?
For the application, they needed to have a name. “Everyone was suggesting names like Matrix Electronics and all sorts of different names,” but, having just come back from an apple farm, Jobs suggested Apple Computer. All this despite the fact that Apple Records, which was responsible for a few musicians known as the Beatles, would probably not – and didn’t – take the similarity as flattery.
“We simply decided that we were going to call it Apple Computer unless someone suggested a better name by 5 o’clock that day,” Jobs’ announced. Concluding, “Partly because I like apples a lot and partially because Apple is ahead of Atari in the phone book and I used to work at Atari.” In 1977, as Apple began to expand its reach beyond computers, the company renamed as Apple Inc.
SEE ALSO: Why is it Called Amazon?
In iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon, Wozniak provides foundation to the rumors, writing, “I remember I was driving Steve Jobs back from the airport along Highway 85. Steve was coming back from a visit to Oregon to a place he called an ‘apple orchard.’ It was actually some kind of commune. Steve suggested a name – Apple Computer…we both tried to come up with technical-sounding names that were better, but we couldn’t think of any good ones. Apple was so much better, better than any other name we could think of.”
While the Macintosh followed suit, reportedly named after Apple employee Jef Raskin’s favorite apple variety, the infamous iPod, did not. According to Mashable, the iPod got its name from 2001: A Space Odyssey when copywriter Vinnie Chieco recalled, “Open the pod bay door.” He added the now-familiar ‘i’ prefix, as with iMac, and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, Siri was also named by an Apple employee. Dag Kittalaus, the Norwegian co-creator of the voice-activated assistant had actually planned to name his daughter Siri, which means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” in Norwegian, until he had a son. At a conference in 2012, Kittalaus proclaimed that “consumer companies need to focus on the fact that the name is easy to spell [and] easy to say.”
All of these examples go to show that sometimes the simplest option is the best option, and sometimes all it takes is the planting of a small seed to sow success for a lifetime.
Thanks for reading Why is Apple called Apple! What’s the strangest Apple branding theory you’ve ever heard? #whyisitcalledApple.
Annelise Schoups is a contributor at Rewind & Capture. With a degree in journalism, experience in public relations, and an education in travel, she is passionate about cultivating knowledge and storytelling.