The lost art of Apple code names

Linus Edwards:

Brooklyn, Aladdin, Colt 45, Cobra, Ray Ban, Stealth, Apollo, XO, Tempest, Brazil 32, Crusader, Instatower, Kanga, JeDI, Aruba, Love Shack, Mark Twain, Excalibur, Tsunami, Phoenix, Nitro, Gelato, Dante, Q, Mach 5, Spartacus, Zelda, Yoda, Green Jade, Spock, Milwaukee, Aurora, Peter Pan, Optimus.

This is just a sampling of the rich cornucopia of Apple code names over the past 40 years. The names run the gamut from pop culture references to inside jokes — from celebrity names to just cool sounding words.

Terrific read.



  • I’ve always loved that “BHA” codename. Carl Sagan was a favorite of mine, but he definitely could be a butt head.

  • jimothyGator

    There’s more to the BHA story than the article mentions (though it is mentioned in the linked Wikipedia article).

    The PowerMac 7100 (code named Carl Sagan and later BHA) was to be released alongside two other PowerMacs, code named Cold Fusion and Piltdown man. Cold fusion and Piltdown man were two well know scientific hoaxes or frauds. By including him with these other two code names, Apple implied that Carl Sagan is also a scientific fraud.

    Did Carl Sagan have reason to be offended? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not a BHA or that a lawsuit was necessary.

    I agree with Dean; this is one of my favorite bits of Apple lore, along with Sosumi.

    • I’m pretty sure hat Piltdown Man wasn’t a real codename at the time, and was added to Cold Fusion and BHA later to imply the theme was hoaxes.

      There was a much simpler codename at the time, though it escapes me.

      • jimothyGator

        Apparently, the name Carl Sagan was chosen because Apple thought they were going to make “billions and billions” of dollars selling the 7100 (“billions and billions” being a Sagan catch phrase).

        So the implication that Sagan was not intentional, but Sagan may have taken offense at the apparent grouping with hoaxes or frauds, and this may been a factor into his decision to sue Apple.

        Now you could object that, no, he only sued Apple because they used his name without permission, and that may be correct. But then after they changed the code name to BHA he sued them again (and lost again), this time for libel, tells me that Sagan may have a thin skin, so it’s credible he was upset being associated, even if unintentionally, with hoaxes and frauds.

        While we don’t know for sure his motives, this is an interesting story nonetheless.

        • Yeah, I do recall the rest of the story. I just don’t remember the “Piltdown man” codename. And at the time, the Cold Fusion sounded more like “awesome” than scam, so I’m pretty sure it was paired with something else.

          As for suing for use of his name, it was a code name. Nobody outside Apple was supposed to know, and certainly Apple didn’t use it publicly. It was really suing for the rumor that they were using his name, which was so much bullshit.

          Sagan/BHA was also known as LAW.

          • jimothyGator

            Oh yeah, I definitely don’t mean to suggest his suit was warranted. I’m very open to the possibility that Carl Sagan may be a thin skinned BHA, but I’ve never met the guy.

          • The guy was a genius. He probably WAS a BHA, then. 🙂