How the iMac Got Its Name: A Surprising Twist in Apple’s History

“Looking back, it’s surprising that [Jobs] was willing to take some influence from another brand and name his product similarly,” Segall reflects. “It’s contrary to what people usually think Steve stood for. But at that time, Apple was near bankruptcy, and he was considering everything that could help this crucial new product gain attention. He was adamant about the name MacMan. We said we could do better, and he challenged us to prove it.”

There were conditions. The new name had to reference the Macintosh brand and clearly indicate that the machine was designed for the internet. Additionally, the name, packaging, and ads had to be ready in a matter of days.

“Now go out there and give me a great name,” Jobs instructed his team, according to Segall. They brainstormed five names, and Segall’s favorite was the iMac.

“iMac referenced the Mac, and the ‘i’ meant internet,” Segall recalls. “But it also stood for individual, imaginative, and I, as in me.” The name was short—a significant advantage and a bold step forward. “At that time, not a single Apple computer had shortened Macintosh to Mac. They were all Macintoshes.”

The initial presentation to Jobs didn’t go well, Segall says. “I had five boards prepared, each displaying what would become the iMac, along with the other names we proposed. They were all ringers because I favored iMac.”

But Jobs wasn’t convinced, instructing the team to come up with more options. Segall, however, remained steadfast, and at the next meeting, he introduced three new names but also brought back his preferred choice.

In the end, the name iMac was chosen, symbolizing both the internet and the individuality that the product represented. This decision marked a pivotal moment in Apple’s history, leading to the company’s resurgence and eventual dominance in the tech industry.

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