Monday 5 April 2021

Apple M[a]cIntosh


The original logo

There's a website where you can buy an Apple Macintosh for 40p. Well, in fact, you can buy three for £1.20. That amounts to the same thing. Also, it's not really an Apple Macintosh, it's a McIntosh Apple; but the one is named after the other.

Back in 1811 a Canadian fellow called John McIntosh started selling a new cultivar of apple, which became known as the McIntosh apple. It is, apparently, a tasty apple. I'm not sure I've ever eaten one but it's one of the top fifteen apple varieties in the United States, so it's got to be all right.

Many years later, there was a man called Steve Jobs who ate a lot of fruit. One day, whilst on a fruitarian diet, he visited an apple farm (presumably he was hungry), and decided that "apple" would be a good name for the new electonic gizmo and fizzbang company that he was starting. 

(N.B. There's a myth that it's named after that apple that was found at the scene of the [alleged] suicide of Alan Turing, but that's not true.)

Anyway, there was now a company called Apple, named after apples, and it had employees, including a chap called Jef Raskin. Jef Rasking liked apples as well as working for Apple, and his absolute favourite kind of apple was the McIntosh Apple, so he picked it as the name for the new computer they were working on.

Unfortunately for Jef there was already a tech company called McIntosh Laboratory Inc, and so they had to alter the spelling, and that is how Mr McIntosh's apple became the Apple Macintosh.

Grows on trees.


  1. Please note that the Logo is Sir Isaac Newton's Apple, poised to fall on his head. I'm feeling some etymological kickback from that.

  2. There's also the persistent theory that they wanted to end up ahead of Atari in the phone book¹.

    ¹Note to younger readers: Back in the Dark Ages these were bound collections of paper, in which companies and people were listed in alphabetical order with their phone numbers².

    ²A bit like email addresses, but linked to a specific telephone.

  3. I worked at a grocer's in Canada while I was at uni. McIntosh apples are okay when they are fresh, but their true attraction for grocers is their long shelf life. They don't taste very nice when they are a year old.

  4. When I was a kid back in the dark ages there were two types of apples at home. McIntosh - commonly known as Macs (eating) and Spies (cooking).
    Macs reached their peak in October. A sturdy apple, hard as nails, sweet and tart, their crispiness was so profound, when you bit in, the juices just flew and the taste was superb.
    There is possibly not a comparable eating apple anywhere in the world (open for debate, though) and the top growers - Ontario and Nova Scotia.
    @Mr Leavett-Brown: You are so right. Macs turn mushy fairly quickly and even by the time they reach the grocers it's game over, never mind that they're subsequently refrigerated for a year or more.

  5. Nothing to do with the Mac, but just listening to a Short History Of Drunkenness, very funny! Thank you for writing, pretty much one chuckle every 20 secs. it's driving my co-workers mad. It is delivered well by Richard Hughes on Audible. Will check out your other stuff.

  6. That "whole brood of venereous libertines" brought me here. Thanks for writing a blog on that little passage I just came across in your book. Fascinating read in its entirety!