Steve Jobs apparently liked the name “Freedom” for a web browser. Makes sense – Apple’s foray into the browser world could have been seen as “freedom” from the oppressive rule of Internet Explorer. But “Freedom” was nixed, in part to concerns that Apple’s yet-to-be-released browser should not be named after a feminne hygiene product. At least that’s how the story goes.
And the story comes from Don Melton, a retired programmer who is best known for working on the Safari project. He details how Safari got its name in a blog post.
Here’s how it all went down in the summer of ’02:
As I remember, 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.
I don’t recall all the names, but one that stands out is “Freedom.” Steve spent some time trying that one out on all of us. 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.
Of course, all I could think about was, “Please don’t let us name the browser after a feminine hygiene product!” But cooler heads and filthier minds prevailed. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one in the room with that concern. So, after some discussion about its actual merits, “Freedom” moved off the candidate list.
According to Melton, Safari had a couple of internal names that were never really considered – they were just what the folks working on the project called it. “Alexander” was one of them. So was “iBrowse,” which Melton says “became a part of an elaborate joke that later appeared on a team shirt.”
Anyway, when someone on the team would really annoy me about needing to know the final name, I would often say something like, “I’ve just heard from Scott Forstall and it’s ‘iBrowse’ for sure.” Which really meant, “Don’t bug me with that shit right now.” This is how to endear yourself to your engineers
Eventually, Jobs chose a name. Here’s Melton describing his reaction when he was told that the browser he’d been working on would ship as “Safari”:
I honestly didn’t know what to think. My mind was a blank because I just didn’t expect it. The name seemed to come out of nowhere. It sounded more foreign at that moment than its actual origin.
‘It doesn’t suck,’ I finally offered.
Melton promises us more on the Safari story, but he’s saving that for a later date. It’s hard to imagine it not being called Safari, but then again we’d be saying the same thing about Freedom, if that wound up winning out.[Don Melton]