The rain­bow logo

Mac Format - - APPLE CLASSIC -

I saw the rain­bow for the first time in my first year of sec­ondary school, way back in the early 1980s. There was just one in a room full of BBC Model Bs and their too-square screens, on the name­plate of an Ap­ple II. The BBCs weren’t bad ma­chines as such – I would end up get­ting one at home so I could write bad adventure games. But they were out­shone by the Ap­ple, not least be­cause it was the only com­puter in the room that had any video games on it.

The rain­bow de­sign wasn’t Ap­ple’s first logo. The orig­i­nal one was cre­ated by Ron Wayne in 1976 and showed Sir Isaac New­ton un­der­neath the ap­ple tree that would fa­mously bonk him on the head, lead­ing him to dis­cover the con­cept of grav­ity. It was a very sev­en­ties kind of de­sign, and its de­tail made it a pain to re­pro­duce.

The Ap­ple logo we know and love was the work of Regis McKenna’s cre­ative direc­tor, Rob Janoff, who added the bite so that it wouldn’t be con­fused with a tomato. The logo was orig­i­nally de­signed to be black only, to save on print­ing costs. But Steve Jobs in­sisted on colours to help hu­man­ise the com­pany im­age.

There was no sub­text to the colours. De­spite claims the rain­bow was an im­plicit gay pride ref­er­ence, or per­haps a trib­ute to per­se­cuted Bri­tish ge­nius Alan Tur­ing, Janoff says he hadn’t even con­sid­ered ei­ther of th­ese. And the bite out of the ap­ple wasn’t a play on the word ‘byte’ ei­ther.

The rain­bow fi­nally lost its stripes in the late 1990s to be­come translu­cent and blue. There would be fur­ther colour changes – mono­chrome on some hard­ware, glassy on pack­ag­ing – but bar the odd ad­vert, the rain­bow wouldn’t re­turn, although the logo re­tains its clas­sic shape.

That’s the right call, I think – the flat logo on the iPhone 6 makes it look like the mono­lith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, some­thing a rain­bow wouldn’t do – but it’s a shame too. Since I first saw it, I’ve as­so­ci­ated the Ap­ple rain­bow with joy. At the time it was a blaze of colour in a world of beige.

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