Why Is a Mac Known as a Mac?


The original 1984 Apple Macintosh on a blue background

The Apple Macintosh, or “Mac,” is a pc platform that’s been round since 1984. Have you ever ever thought of why it’s referred to as “Mac” or “Macintosh” specifically? We’ll dig into the historical past behind the identify.

It’s Named For a Kind of Apple

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ron Wayne based “Apple Laptop Firm” on April 1, 1976.  Jobs selected the Apple identify after visiting an apple farm whereas on a fruitarian weight loss plan. He additionally wished Apple to alphabetically seem earlier than Atari within the cellphone guide.

In 1979, an Apple worker named Jef Raskin started engaged on an experimental appliance-like pc mission inside Apple. In a 2003 interview with ACM’s Ubiquity journal, Raskin described the origins of what he named the mission: “I referred to as it ‘Macintosh’ as a result of the McIntosh is my favourite type of apple to eat. And I figured that if I used to be going to have an apple I would as effectively have a tasty one.”

A pile of crisp McIntosh apples.
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

The McIntosh Pink, a tart apple with a crimson and inexperienced pores and skin, is the nationwide Apple of Canada, and was well-liked in New England whereas Raskin was rising up in New York. In flip, the McIntosh apple received its identify from a Canadian farmer named John McIntosh who found an apple seedling on his farm in 1811, cultivated it, and preferred the best way its fruit tasted. (In Gaelic, the ancestral McIntosh surname means “son of the chief.”)

Early on, Jef Raskin had determined so as to add an “a” to the “Mac” in “Macintosh” to attempt to keep away from potential trademark conflicts with a high-end hi-fi audio firm referred to as McIntosh Laboratory, primarily based in New York.

Steve Jobs took over the Macintosh mission in January 1981. For a short while afterward, Jobs wished to name the upcoming pc “Bicycle,” after a reference to one in every of his favourite sayings, “A pc is a bicycle for the thoughts.”

A photo of the original 1984 Macintosh.

However Macintosh builders, nonetheless hooked up to the Macintosh code identify, by no means preferred “Bicycle,” and “Macintosh” received out. To clear up authorized points, Steve Jobs wrote McIntosh Laboratory a letter in 1982 asking to make use of the identify. After some negotiations, Apple licensed the rights to the identify from McIntosh Laboratory in 1983, then purchased the trademark outright in 1986.

From “Macintosh” to “Mac”

For the reason that starting of the Apple Macintosh model in 1984, Apple staff, press, and prospects alike have been abbreviating the identify to “Mac” for comfort. It’s a lot simpler to say, and the nickname caught: Upon the launch of the unique Macintosh in 1984, Apple launched purposes referred to as MacPaint and MacWrite, for instance, that rapidly grew to become must-haves for the brand new platform.

For the reason that Mac’s working system was solely designed for one pc—the Macintosh—Apple initially referred to as very early variations of Mac OS underneath generic names like “System 1,” later formalized to “Macintosh System Software program” or simply “System Software program.” In 1997, Apple modified the OS’s identify to “Mac OS” with the discharge of Mac OS 7.6, in an try and make it simpler to license the OS to Mac {hardware} clone makers on the time. It was extra distinctive to promote “Mac OS 7.6” than “System Software program 7.6.”

A front and side view of the original 1998 Apple iMac computer.
The 1998 iMac made the “Mac” abbreviation official for Apple {hardware}. Apple

With the discharge of the iMac in 1998, Apple introduced the “Mac” abbreviation to an Apple pc identify formally for the primary time. Finally, it made its option to different merchandise just like the “Energy Mac G4” and the “MacBook Professional.” Lately, Apple simply calls its platform “Mac,” and also you don’t see a lot point out of “Macintosh” wherever in Apple’s advertising literature nowadays. Even so, we suspect that outdated farmer John McIntosh can be amazed at what his scrappy little seedling impressed.

RELATED: What Does the “i” in iPhone Stand For?


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