The Legend of the Apple Logo

Inspired by Computer Genius Alan Turing?

Apple Logo
David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images

For years it has been rumored that Apple's iconic logo, a stylized, solid white apple missing a bite on one side, was inspired by the circumstances surrounding the death of Alan Turing. He was a groundbreaking mathematician and computer scientist. However, he committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple in 1954.

Apple Logo Designer Janoff Dispels the Legends

Not so, says the man who actually created the logo, graphic designer Rob Janoff, who laughs it off as "a wonderful urban legend." The concept was purely visual in inspiration, he says, with the bite taken out only to provide scale so the apple wouldn't be mistaken for a cherry.

In a 2009 interview with Ivan Raszl of Creativebits.org, Janoff addressed the Turing myth as well as several others. He designed the original Apple logo with a bite out of the side and multi-color stripes that were not in the correct rainbow order. He was an art director for the Regis McKenna public relations agency at that time. The only direction he was given by Steve Jobs on the logo was, "Don't make it cute."

The logo for Apple before that was a pen and ink drawing by Ron Wayne of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree, with a poem around the border, wrapped in a ribbon that said, "Apple Computer Co." Janoff brought two versions of the logo to the meeting, one with the bite and one without the bite. He also showed them the logo in the striped version, solid color, and metallic with the same shapes.

Do the Multi-colored Stripes Represent Gay Rights?

Janoff said the stripes were representing that the Apple II would be the first computer to display images on the monitor in color.

It would also appeal to young people, and the company hoped to market the personal computers to schools.

Does the Bite from the Apple Represent Computer Bytes?

No, it doesn't. Janoff said it was only after he designed it that his creative director mentioned the term computer byte, and at the time he was unfamiliar with basic computer terms.

Does the Bite from the Apple Represent the Forbidden Fruit?

Janoff says he is not at all religious and he didn't have a thought about Adam and Eve and the apple in the Garden of Eden. So, while gaining knowledge of good and evil by biting the apple might seem like a good allegory, he wasn't channeling it for the design.

Does the Bite and/or the Colored Stripes Represent Alan Turing?

Janoff says no, he appreciates the lore about Alan Turing, but he added the bite to the apple for scale so the apple wouldn't look like a cherry. The apple itself, of course, represents the company name of Apple. Alan Turing was homosexual. During his life, it was illegal to have a homosexual relationship in the United Kingdom.

Over the years, the myths about the meaning of the logo have spread far and wide. CNN's Holden Frith had to retract a telling of the story, which he said he got on good authority from Apple insiders who were incorrect. Stephen Fry said on the BBC show QI XL in 2011 that his friend Steve Jobs said of the Turing tale, "It isn't true, but God we wish it were!"