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Think Retro: A love letter to the Apple logo

Christopher Phin | Nov. 12, 2014
Macworld's newest column, a celebration of classic Apple, kicks off with a deep appreciation for the rainbow logo of yore.

When Apple jettisoned the rainbow Apple logo, the company said, "We've reduced some of the clutter in the original design [...] Instead of rainbow stripes, solid colors. Instead of just one solid color, a palette of logo colors to suit a variety of uses. Solid colors emphasize the timeless shape of the Apple logo."

And I guess they're right--the current, clean logo, which these days you usually see as a simple silhouette or lit up on a laptop lid, certainly doesn't seem retro like the rainbow one. But for me at least, it's just not as exciting. There's something wildly satisfying and compelling about these old badges--the promise, always delivered-on, of an experience like no other available at the time.

The writing was on the wall, of course. On the last Mac ever to sport the rainbow badge (it was a PowerBook G3, of course, in the picture at the top; specifically, 1998's Wallstreet II), the lit-up logo on the back was pure white:

And no, we haven't put that picture in upside down. In those days, the Apple logo was the right way up as the laptop faced you when you opened it, but this meant that when it was open, the logo appeared upside down. Why? Because Steve Jobs put the user's needs first. But as Ken Segall recounts in his book Insanely Simple, "Look around today and the answer is pretty obvious. Every laptop on earth has a logo that's right-side-up when the machine is opened. Back then, it wasn't so obvious, probably because laptops were not yet ubiquitous."

Mind you, those glowing logos were white presumably as much for dull practical reasons as for any strategic branding ones; the way they work is by essentially cutting a hold in the lid to allow the backlight that makes your screen glow to leak out the back, and making them multicolored would have added complexity.

That didn't stop me, though, making the Apple logo on my old iBook G4 glow in rainbow colors in tribute; I was delighted to discover that an original (pre-Garamond!) Apple logo sticker I bought on eBay fitted over it perfectly:

Am I a sentimental old fool for loving the old Apple logo so much? Will the simple, plain silhouette mean as much to the next generation? Do you miss it as I do?

 

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