Today, April 1, 2016 marks the 40th birthday of the founding of Apple by the two Steves, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. We’d like to take the opportunity to wish the best of days to everyone connected to Apple and its fabulous products.
To celebrate Apple’s 40th anniversary, the company itself is flying a pirate flag over its Cupertino headquarters to honor the first-generation Macintosh team headed by late company co-founder Steve Jobs. The flag resembles the typical “pirate” flag seen in thousands of movies and games, with the notable exception of the skull’s eyepatch, which is a rainbow Apple logo.
The pirate flag was originally used by the team behind the original Macintosh, and was designed by noted Apple graphic designer Susan Kare, and sewn together by programmer Steve Capps. The flag stemmed from a quote by Jobs, who said, “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.” The colors were flown to mark the arrival of the Mac team into a new office building.
Andy Hertzfeld, noted computer scientist and member of the original Macintosh design team says about the flag:
“A few days before we moved into the new building, Capps bought some black cloth and sewed it into a flag. He asked Susan Kare to paint a big skull and crossbones in white at the center. The final touch was the requisite eye-patch, rendered by a large, rainbow-colored Apple logo decal. We wanted to have the flag flying over the building early Monday morning, the first day of occupancy, so the plan was to install it late Sunday evening.
“Capps had already made a few exploratory forays onto the roof during the weekend while a few of us looked out for guards on the ground. At first, he thought he could just drape the flag on the roof, but that proved impractical as it was too hard to see, especially when the wind curled it up. After a bit of searching, he found a thin metal pole among the remaining construction materials still scattered inside the building, that was suitable to serve as a flag pole.
“Finally, on Sunday night around 10pm, it was time to hoist the Jolly Roger. Capps climbed onto the roof while we stood guard below. He wasn’t sure how he would attach the flag, and didn’t have many tools with him. He scoured the surface of the roof and found three or four long, rusty nails, which he was able to use to secure the flag pole to a groove in the roof, ready to greet the Mac team members as they entered the new building the next morning.
“We weren’t sure how everyone would react to the flag, especially Steve Jobs, but Steve and almost everyone else loved it, so it became a permanent fixture of the building. It usually made me smile when I caught a glimpse of it as I came to work in the morning.”
Susan Kare explained why she decided to recreate the flag over 30 years later, saying it was at the request of a new Apple employee. “A few months ago, I got an email from within Apple from someone who really identified with that flag, and asked if I could make him a new version to hang in his cubicle,” Kare told Fast Code Design. “In his email, he told me, ‘I didn’t come to Apple to join the damn Navy.’ So he wanted the flag to remind him of why he came to the company in the first place.”
Kare created the new version of the pirate flag by referencing old photographs, and painting it freehand in acrylic just as she did the original. “I maybe even used the same brushes,” Kare laughed, pointing out that she also did it on her dining room table, just like the original.