Apple’s Safari Could Have Been Named “Freedom”

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CLOUD: Freedom? Freedom?
KIRK: Spock.
SPOCK: Yes, I heard, Captain.
CLOUD: That is a worship word. Yang worship. You will not speak it.
KIRK: Well, well, well. It is our worship word, too.

Star Trek - "The Omega Glory"

Apple's homegrown Web browser is called Safari, but it came dangerously close to being called "Freedom," according to Don Melton, who used to be Engineering Director of Internet Technologies at Apple. In a blog post recounting the naming process for the browser, Mr. Melton said that "Freedom" was a name that appealed to the late Steve Jobs for some time before it was rejected and the team moved on.

According to the former engineer—he's now a self-confessed aspiring writer and recovering programmer—the team (and by extension Mr. Jobs) came up with the name Safari just four weeks before Safari was unveiled to the world at Macworld Conference & Expo in January of 2003.

Prior to that, all manner of names were bandied about. Mr. Melton wrote, "I don’t remember any particular name we talked about. They all sounded so awful to me that I’ve purged from my mind the trauma of imagining the browser being labeled with any of them."

FreedomOne that did stick in his mind, however, was "Freedom."

"As I remember," he wrote, "Steve just started saying some names out loud — I suppose trying them out to see how they felt in his mouth and to his ears. Which is not as odd as it seemed then — it’s a good technique now that I think about it."

He said that Mr. Jobs spent some time trying "Freedom" out on everyone in the team, and speculated that, "He may have liked it because it invoked positive imagery of people being set free. And, just as possible and positive, it spoke to our own freedom from Microsoft and Internet Explorer, the company and browser we depended on at the time.

It was Mr. Jobs who finally picked the name, of course, and Mr. Melton recalls that when he first heard "Safari" that his reaction was, "It doesn't suck." From there it quickly grew on him and he said that the same was the case with the rest of the development team.

There are more details on Mr. Melton's blog. It makes for an interesting read.

Freedom icon made with help from Shutterstock.

[Via Ars Technica]

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I have to admit that, from the beginning, the name ‘Safari’ had an instant appeal to me that harked back to my childhood and our many excursions on safari to anyone of East Africa’s many game parks. As a young lad, these were happy, joyous occasions, and the very name conjures such association, admittedly a very personal one.

While I like the fact that Apple went with the theme of the Internet being a journey (Navigator, Explorer, Safari), there is an important take home reminder in this story, namely that during SJ’s tenure at the helm, while his may have been the final decisions, his were not always the ideas the won out; rather those that did went through a process of input and iteration amongst a team.

That process is now part of the culture of Apple.

Lee Dronick

Safari was a much better choice than Freedom.


I always assumed that Safari had something to do with The Beach Boys “Surfin’ Safari.”

Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learning how
Come on Safari with me!

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