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The Original Macintosh:    14 of 121 
Bicycle
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Date: April 1981
Characters: Rod Holt, Steve Jobs, Jef Raskin
Topics: Management, Apple Spirit
Summary: Rod wants to change the name of the project
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Jef Raskin chose the name "Macintosh", after his favorite kind of apple, so when Jef was forced to go on an extended leave of absence in February 1981, Steve Jobs and Rod Holt decided to change the name of the project, partially to distance it from Jef. They considered "Macintosh" to be a code name anyway, and didn't want us to get too attached to it.



Apple had recently taken out a two page ad in Scientific American, featuring quotes from Steve Jobs about the wonders of personal computers. The ad explained how humans were not as fast runners as many other species, but a human on a bicycle beat them all. Personal computers were "bicycles for the mind."

A month or so after Jef's departure, Rod Holt announced to the small design team that the new code name for the project was "Bicycle", and that we should change all references to "Macintosh" to "Bicycle". When we objected, thinking "Bicycle" was a silly name, Rod thought that it shouldn't matter, "since it was only a code name".

Rod's edict was never obeyed. Somehow, Macintosh just seemed right. It was already ingrained with the team, and the "Bicycle" name seemed forced and inappropriate, so no one but Rod ever called it "Bicycle". For a few weeks, Rod would reprimand anyone who called it "Macintosh" in his presence, but the new name never acquired any momentum. Finally, around a month after his original order, after someone called it "Macintosh" again, he threw up his hands in exasperation and told us, "I give up! You can call it Macintosh if you want. It's only a code name, anyway."

But it was a code name that proved to be sturdy and resilient. In the Fall of 1982, Apple paid tens of thousands of dollars to a marketing consulting firm to come up with a themed set of names for Lisa and Macintosh. They came up with lots of ideas, including calling the Mac the "Apple 40" or the "Apple Allegro". After hearing all the suggestions, Steve and the marketing team decided to go with Lisa and Macintosh as the official names. They did manage to reverse engineer an acronym for Lisa, "Local Integrated Systems Architecture", but internally we preferred the recursive "Lisa: Invented Stupid Acronym", or something like that. Macintosh seemed to be acroynm proof.

But there was still a final hurdle to clear - the name was too close to a trademark from the McIntosh stereo company. I'm not sure how the situation was resolved (I suspect that Apple paid them a modest amount), but toward the end of the retreat in January 1983, Steve announced to the team that we had gotten rights to use the name. He dashed a champagne bottle against one of the prototypes, and declared, "I christen thee Macintosh!"

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11 Comments     
Glad that that never happned, LOL!
I seem to remember Woz saying the pre-Raskin bit-slice machine would be "the McIntosh of personal computers", and the name was a natural. Apple paid McIntosh labs to license the name (early Mac literature says "Licensed from McIntosh Laboratories, Inc.") and later bought rights to the name outright.
I named it "Macintosh" so that it would not infringe on "McIntosh". I like McIntosh apples, the name seemed catchy, and nobody knows how to spell, anyway. It was this last that undid what I thought was a clever avoidance of a trademark conflict: they sound the same. Call me naive about IP in those days. Apple did have to pay McIntosh and also had to strike a deal with the Macintosh people who make coats. The information from Spragens is something that I have never heard before. Any documentation?
Woz's comment was an offhand remark when someone asked what he was working on. I think it was maybe in one of the user newsletters (Call A.P.P.L.E. ?). He was not calling his project McIntosh, nor was it related to the Mac. But great minds run in the same direction, and both Jef and Woz enjoy a pun. Pippin is another obvious Apple name. Somehow Rome Beauty or Fuji don't seem suited to computers, and Elstar would have ticked off Xerox. ;-)
Re: Macintosh seemed to be acronym proof. I enjoy this one - (sorry if offensive, but we all know this can be true for MacOS <9.2) M.ost A.pplications C.rash If. Not. The. Operating. System. Hangs ;)
I remember reading that they were tempted to shorten it to MAC - Mouse Activated Computer. The legend goes on to say that internally it was Meaningless Acronym Computer if only i was born 15-20 years earlier... i'd have been in that bunch :\
Over on the Lisa side, the marketing consultants came up with the name "Applause." This was announced to us at a midmorning "cookie meeting" in the Bandley II atrium. Instantly, an engineer named Chris Franklin replied "Buy Applause, get the clap!" There was hysterical laughter, and that was the end of "Applause."
Thats hilarious....get the clap....its good someone pointed out how bad that name was. Of course, it didn't matter in the end. I have talked to people who owned a Lisa, and getting the clap may have been preferrable to using one of those boat anchors.
I like the new name of Macintosh. And I like the thinking of Rod When he said that it is only a code name. ________________________________ David [url=http://applelaptopshop.com]Used Apple Laptops [/url]
The official name discussion is very interesting. The funny thing is that I have always think that "Macintosh" was an acronym : "Monitor And Computer INTO a SHell" What a pity!
I just handed off my last Mac, a Colour Classic (I've always had a Mac in the house, from the original Mac, over the Fat Mac, Plus, SE, and finally this Classic). Even as it sat there on the back of the new owner's bike, it struck me that I'd seen this before -- granted, the Mac was Colour and also inside its original box, and it wasn't sitting on a bicycle but a Leitra-style tricycle -- but the phrase "bicycles for the mind" did come to, um, mind. I wave good bye to it and go in from the rain as I watch my last Mac pass on its way to a better home.