A Bite From the Apple, Serving as a Reminder of Our Past

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My MacBook, with the logo that honors Alan Turing, the man most responsible for its existence.

[UPDATE: It would appear that this interview with the logo designer disproves, well, this entire post.]

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Mac whore.  I love all things Mac — ever since I was won over to them during my time working on Macs at the newspaper in 2000.

And yet, I absolutely was caught off guard when I learned the story behind the logo.

More than four years ago, Holden Frith — now the editor of Wired.co.uk wrote in the Times of London:

Most corporate logos are bland, emotionless affairs. They are designed by committee, intended to do little more than identify the company and project a positive image to prospective consumers. A few carry a little more historical weight, but even the majority of these go unnoticed, dulled by familiarity and ignored by busy, unobservant users. One such image belongs to Apple computers, whose logo is a multicoloured apple with one bite missing.

Always a potent symbol, the apple speaks of Newton’s discovery as well as biblical knowledge, prohibition and punishment. But Apple had a more specific mythology in mind. The key is the missing bite, a tribute to the death of Alan Turing, the man whose genius laid the foundations for the modern-day computer, pioneered research into artificial intelligence and, most famously, unlocked the German Enigma codes during the Second World War.

That fame, however, is relatively recent. Turing never lived to appreciate it – at a time when other war heroes were enjoying a comfortable and glorious retirement, he chose to take a bite from an apple he had laced with cyanide. He died on June 7, 1954, ten years and one day after D-Day, which many military analysts believe would not have happened were it not for Turing’s work.

This brought tears to my eyes.  More importantly, it’s going to be an ever-present reminder to me of the work that came before me and the ultimate price that gay people far too often paid for their “difference.”

As I noted on Thursday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown drew attention to Turing’s legacy this week in an apology that came directly from from 10 Downing Street.  The apology ended:

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.

Thank you, Alan Turing, for your work. Thanks, also, to Steve Jobs and the folks at Apple for the simple, powerful gesture that you took to thank him long before the British government that he had served found it fit to do so.

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About the Author

Chris Geidner is the award-winning senior political & legal reporter at BuzzFeed and has written for Metro Weekly, The Atlantic Online, The American Prospect, Advocate.com, Salon and other publications, as well as at his blog, Law Dork. He has appeared regularly on television commenting on current affairs, including MSNBC, PBS, HLN & Current. Prior to moving to D.C. in 2009, he served as an attorney on the senior staff at the Ohio Attorney General's Office and had earlier worked for a leading Columbus law firm. An extended biography can be found here, and you can follow him on Twitter.