Flashback 1982: Apple Approaches McIntosh Labs

Thirty-four years ago this week, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs asks McIntosh Labs for rights to use “Macintosh” as the brand name of a computer it was developing, a year after settling a trademark infringement suit brought by The Beatles’ holding company Apple Corps.

Macintosh project creator Jef Raskin had intentionally spelled the name with an “a” to differentiate it from the famous audio brand but Apple’s trademark application was denied because the names were phonetically identical.

Jobs’ made his request in a letter to McIntosh president Gordon Gow who went so far as to visit Apple’s headquarters for a demonstration of the prototype Macintosh. Acting on advice from company lawyers, Gow denied the request.

In 1983, a persistent Jobs managed to secure a license for the name Macintosh before introducing Apple’s first mass-market personal computer in January 1984. The trend-setting Macintosh featured an eye-pleasing graphical user interface that put the IBM’s rudimentary “green screen” to shame and something that was foreign to early PC users—a mouse.