An oral history of the Apple logo

Apple’s logo burst onto the scene in 1977, instantly standing out from its drab competitors. Its creator Rob Janoff explains the design’s links with counterculture, why the money men hated the logo, and what it was like working with Steve Jobs

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

It started out as a very insignificant project. Apple was a little company in 1977, not famous. Steve Jobs wasn’t famous. Nobody had iPhones yet. Nobody did their work on computers yet, graphically. The way we used to do things is foreign to a whole lot of people. It’s always interesting when I get questions about what computer program I used to create the Apple logo, and it seems odd to everybody now because it’s such a commonplace thing – everybody has a computer in the palm of their hand.

The project started with me finding out I’d be doing a logo for a company that was making a home computer – that’s what they were called, not personal computers. There really wasn’t much of a brief. It was me talking to my creative director about how it would mean people can collect recipes and do their chequebooks on a computer at home, and how it would change the way people work. I wasn’t a techie myself, which I think helped in the long run quite a bit. I couldn’t imagine anybody learning a computer language just to do their chequebooks.

COUNTERCULTURE TAKING ON TECH

I was just barely new on the job; I’d been at Regis Mckenna a ­couple of months and was working on tech accounts like Intel, but I did them in a different way to how they were usually done. I was being very visual and colourful in electronic trade publications, where it was easy to stand out because they were such boring publications at the time. That got some notice and Steve asked his friend, who was head of Intel, who did their ads, and it was Regis. I was working on that account and Steve was probably aware of it. I finally met him and was given a very quick brief on what the project would be about.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

London, EC3R

SENIOR DESIGNER

Guildford, Surrey