Apple has the habit of giving several of its fine products the same name. The result is that each product ends up with several nicknames.

Power Macintosh towers have generally gone by their development code names: Gossamer, Yosemite, Yikes!, Sawtooth, Quicksilver, etc.

The Titanium PowerBook G4 has the almost universally understood nickname, "TiBook". It's cute, it gets the point across, and it produces a nice parallel with the iBook. Before its release, the TiBook was known by its mysterious code name, "Mercury".

There are no less than four products that go by the name, PowerBook G3. These are known by their development code names, as well: Kanga, Wall Street, Lombard, Pismo.

The newer iBook enclosure has been named the iceBook by users, for its frosty clear/white design. Official Apple documents, however, call it the iBook(dual USB), as if the addition of an extra USB port is the primary characteristic that sets these models apart from the original "space clam" iBook.

The old, circular, wind-up AC adapter that came with iBooks and PowerBooks for a while is often called the "yo-yo", for obvious reasons. The new, square white adapter is sometimes known as the "chiclet". The much-maligned circular mouse that came with the original Bondi Blue iMac, and later spread across the whole desktop line, is known as the "puck".

Plenty of other Macs not listed by jetfuel have had their share of nicknames. It's easy to see why, when the official names are sometimes rather uninspiring, and telling models apart can be rather painful without distinct names. For example, my iBook's official name is simply "iBook", and its long official name (used in tech support documents or while dealing with them on the phone) is "iBook (32 VRAM)". Useful, ain't it?

The different G4 towers needed some way for people to tell them apart, so now we have things like MDD (Mirrored Drive Door) and WindTunnel (thanks to the speed holes). The G5 has been affectionately called a "cheesegrater" because the front of the metal case is full of small holes.

Of course, the nickname tradition isn't something new. Older Macs had nicknames too, like those in the original LC series, which were the "pizza box" Macs.

My personal favorite name I've ever heard used to refer to a computer model was for the Blue & White G3 desktops. I don't know where it came from, and it's relatively uncommon, but it amuses me to no end to hear them referred to as "Smurf Towers". It's entirely possible that the world would be a better place if more things had playful or silly names. How could anyone possibly get angry or worked up about their Smurf Tower acting up and eating their homework or something for work? With a name like that, you just can't.

Early Times

In 1984, when I had my first contract with Apple Computer, the Macintosh was new and the only model in the line; the Apple II series was dominant. We called them Macs, and I recall some discussion about whether Steve had slipped a cog, since a macintosh (or mackintosh) is a raincoat; the variety of apple is a McIntosh. Everybody agreed it was an amazingly innovative machine, though.

In 1983, as it was developing its new all in one personal computer, key developer Jef Raskin chose the code name for his project based on his favorite type of Apple, the McIntosh. Unfortunately, Jef was a better developer than a speller, and tagged the project incorrectly as Macintosh.
-- Gold Coast Mac, Inc.
It turns out that there is a long-established manufacturer of audio equipment named McIntosh Labs; perhaps Apple called their product "Macintosh" to avoid trouble, but they had to pay a little hush money to McIntosh anyway. Also, The Beatles' publisher, Apple Records, had some trouble with Apple Computer's use of the fruit's name, a problem aggravated recently with iTunes and iPod, since the old agreement restricted Apple to non-audio products. But that's another node! It seems that Steve & Steve have had a lot of trouble with names.

The original Mac had a lot of installed memory for its day: 128K. However, its revolutionary graphical user interface and operating system demanded more, and in a bizarre stroke of corporate arrogance abetted by Steve's reality distortion field, the Mac was built sealed, with no way even to open the case without special tools, much less add memory. Brave souls knocked on condo doors in the sunset, passed cash for bags of loose parts, went home to crack their Macs by any means possible, and assemble their own memory expansions and solder them in.

This prompted Apple to sell Macs with 512K built in, which became known as the Fat Mac -- the name stamped on the back of the case was simply "Macintosh 512K". Nobody knew what to call Macintoshes then, which some poor luser had got stuck with and been unable to upgrade -- "thin Macs", "un-fattened Macs". It's hard to find one of these anymore; almost all have been upgraded, junked, or turned into fish tanks.

Both Mac and Fat Mac were floppy drive only, not unusual for the time. Desperate user attempts to add more storage eventually prompted Apple to bring out the Mac Plus, with new ports on the back, including the infamous SCSI. The computer itself had a decent name, so need for a nick, but the port and bus standard has always been called "scuzzy".

When I returned to Apple, somebody threw a lot of machines into my cube. Some were Fat Macs; there was a Mac Plus. I had one Lisa running a port of Mac OS, which officially made it a Mac XL. I never heard anybody but myself call it anything but Lisa. And I had prototypes of the two new machines under development. Becks became the Macintosh II, the first open-box desktop style Mac; it had many other code names as well. Maui became the Mac SE, a compact Mac with an internal hard drive, but the same sealed case and tiny monitor.

That ends my personal involvement with Apple. I avoided the long line of dull, bland 68xxx boxes cranked out like so many sizes of soda pop bottles. See other writeups for those nicks.

I am writing this, even now, on the PowerMac G3 233MHz, codenamed Gossamer. We who refuse to progress simply say, "I love Beige!"

My buddy, who valiantly salvages old Macs in the Sunset District of San Francisco, sneeringly refers to the new iMac, with its integral flat screen and rounded base, as The Lamp.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.