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How Famous OS Logos Got Started 103

Shane O'Neill writes "Ronald McDonald and the NBC Peacock may get more TV air time, but today's operating systems have cool logos, too. Google, Apple, Microsoft and the Linux crowd crafted mascots ranging from cute lizards to circles of life. In this slideshow, we look at the origins of the logos and look ahead to their future."


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How Famous OS Logos Got Started

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  • Why red, green, blue and yellow? They are all primary colors, and contrast well to the human eye.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bohemian72 ( 898284 )
      My thoughts exactly.

      One of these colors is not like the others. One of these colors just doesn't belong . . . .

    • I'm glad I'm not the only one that cringed in reading that...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, if we want to get technical it is true that red, green, blue, and yellow are all primary colors; RGB being the primary colors of light and yellow being a primary pigment. In all fairness to the writers of TFA, they don't state primary colors of what.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        If you want to get really technical, Red, Green and Blue are the additive synthesis primary colours, and Yellow, Cyan and Magenta are the subtractive synthesis primary colours.
    • A common slip. When you go to think of base colors like that, it's easy to thing RGB while actually trying to come up with RBY. I don't see why it's so far fetched that one might accidentally toss green in there, and that someone else might not catch it.

      Now, as far as that being the reason they contrast well to the eye... I call bullshit. They are all as separated as they can be from each other on the spectrum, so naturally there is high contrast between them.

      • I dunno what the technical reason is if any but afaict most people perceive yellow and green as distinct colors while cyan and magenta are percieved as variants of blue and red.

        • I think that may be to the way we physically see the colors. Check out these links:


          Much of that information is over my head, but it gives me the impression that we are wired to see green separately, which may be related to yellow been considered subordinate.

        • I'm colorblind you insensitive clod.

          For me, green (#00FF00) and yellow (#FFFF00) look pretty much the same on CRT displays, while Magenta and Red do look different enough for a different name, I agree on Cyan and Blue tho
          • Ditto. Who cares about anything that includes red and green, when you can't SEE red and green? Phhht. For the most part, I don't give a damn about colors. Give me a dark skin, with high contrast, and I'm happy!

    • by azav ( 469988 )

      Green is NOT a primary color.

  • TFA says the origins of the Red Hat logo are unknown, I always thought it was from the game Civilization?
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd always thought the Red Hat was a reference to De Bono's "Six Thinking Hats" []. The IT industry also talks about "black hats" (hackers, appropriately enough the black thinking hat is "judgement"/"identifying flaws") and "white hats" (security folk, although the white thinking hat is actually "neutrality" rather than "vigilantism" or whatever, I assume it's intended as the polar opposite of a "black hat").

      PS. Why is the idle section so screwed up? The comment box is narrower than it is tall (and it's only

    • Red Hat and the logo were inspired by Mark Ewing's hat, as he was known to wear a red fedora around the Carnegie Mellon campus.

      Source []

    • I thought it was Carmen Sandiego's hat, because using that tricky hackery Linux stuff makes you a sneaky bugger!

  • Woefully incomplete (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:19AM (#29019503) Homepage

    What about Amiga? Commodore? The Mac 'smile'? MS-DOS?

    The article's pretty scant on details even for the logos they did describe. Commodore might not be around any more, but their logo remains iconic.

    • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo ( 1000167 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:37AM (#29019585)
      I would have liked to have seen an evolution from the logos of yesteryear to today.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )

        You would probably see a similar evolution as you see in TV Network logos or logos of other brands. Following the Zeitgeist, they would adapt to what's "cool" or "hip" (or whatever other word is currently hip or cool to describe hip or cool...). In the 50s, they'd have been serious and business-y, in the 60s they would have been down to earth, in the 70s flashy, in the 80s neon-flashy, in the 90s they'd have started spinning and today they'd be "we're too cool for a logo, so we just got this piece of design

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Remember, this is the Internet Age, where incomplete, under-researched, poorly written, fluffy snippets of stuff everyone in the target audience already knows is passed off as news.
        Modern America: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Entertainment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They could have gone back even further, VM/370 had a logo starting in about 1975 ... [] and later VM/SP (1983) ... []
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bbtom ( 581232 )

      Yep, and they also miss out the BSD Daemon [], and Hexley the Platypus [] - which beat the corporate Windows and OS X logos any day. And lacking BSD, they miss the story of the two Texans reacting to the BSD daemon T-shirt [], one of the best stories in BSD history.

      • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

        And lacking BSD, they miss the story of the two Texans reacting to the BSD daemon T-shirt, one of the best stories in BSD history.

        Thanks! I had been looking for that story. Last time I saw it, it was reprinted in an Ericsson company-internal Unix course compendium, under the title "Devil worshipping in Texas". There, it was illustrated with a three-year-old girl wearing a BSD tshirt and looking mischievous ...

        • by bbtom ( 581232 )

          I first read it in 'Getting Started with FreeBSD' - a shortened, printed version of the FreeBSD handbook, if I recall correctly. I had to go to a local free software distributor to buy the CD-ROMs and a printed manual. I'm guessing this was 1997 or 98, and I desperately wanted an operating system that wasn't Windows 95. I've still got the disk package floating around somewhere - version 2.2.6.

    • Agreed, and uninteresting, not deserving space at Slashdot. Lacks also Debian (which is an interesting story, unlike these). The only actual things I've learned is that Microsoft's logo's colors are very "visible", and some RedHat guy wore a red lacrose hat. Fail.
    • I particularly enjoy the FedEx logo. The first time I noticed the hidden arrow in the middle of it my eyes were opened to the uniqueness and thought that goes into some companies logo.
      • If we're talking about logotypes in general, there's actually quite a lot of interesting reading:

        Coke vs. Pepsi branding []
        Paul Rand's staggeringly impressive portfolio [] (More here []) -- IBM, NeXT, OS/2, ABC, Enron, Westinghouse, and UPS logos were all designed by Rand.
        Rand also proposed (a fairly swanky) new logo for Ford in the 60s, although the company continues [] to use the same logo that it did in 1912.
        Famous logo nicknames []
        Raymond Loewy designed [] quite a few iconic oil company logos (and the US mail!).
        Best and []

  • Looking at the high-quality version of that logo, it hit me - it looks a lot like one of those old "Simon" electronic games from the 80s (70s?). I know the game had four colors, and the logo three; but the resemblance is uncanny (to my eyes anyway).

    Okay, my comment is neither "news for nerds" nor "stuff that matters"; but then neither was the story. :-P

  • I'm confused ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:30AM (#29019547)

    All this time I thought these [] were the right logos.

  • Obvious omission (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Capt. Cooley ( 1438063 ) <mizo,razer&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:33AM (#29019565) Journal
    Why not discuss the Apple apple logo and how it changed from Newton to rainbow colors to it's current stark white? IMO the most interesting logo story...
    • by yo303 ( 558777 )

      Why not discuss the Apple apple logo and how it changed from Newton to rainbow colors to it's current stark white? IMO the most interesting logo story...

      And why not the Chevy logo as well? This is an article about OS logos, not corporations' or car brands' logos.

  • ... the Slashdot logo?

  • Don't bother (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrgiles ( 872216 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:03AM (#29019753)
    Don't bother with the 'article'. It has no insights into any of the logos and is merely idle speculation on the part of the author for the most part.

    You have been warned. . .
    • by Temporal ( 96070 )

      I agree. The author says that the colors of the Chrome logo were inspired by the Windows logo. That's ridiculous -- the colors obviously came from the Google logo. Google uses those four colors in almost all its logos. Obviously the author did not actually do any research.

      • Agree. The author also didn't bother to note that the current Mac OS X box art has a starfield because that comes DIRECTLY from the new Time Machine feature, which was a major selling point for upgrading to Leopard. Instead he goes off on how it reminds him of 2001.
    • And the writing is sloppy and and vapid and horrid. Normally, I'd suggest to the author, "Don't quit your day job." But in this case, I think it'd be more appropriate to say, "Please quit your day job."

      • You think the writing is bad? How about the annoying jump-to-the-bottom-of-the-page-after-a-few-seconds-for-no-fucking-reason effect?

    • It's yet another of those stupid "slideshow" articles. That's enough to put anybody off.


  • From TFA:

    Inspirations aside, the Chrome ball is a powerful image on its own. It's no accident that it resembles an eyeball, signifying knowledge and insight.

    It's funny, I look at it and see Hal 9000 and skynet bundled together in a deviously delightful, 'Simon Says' resemblance that slips it unwittingly past the fears and vigilance of even the most skeptic late 80's and early 90's children. Signifying knowledge and insight is a simply a crafty way of claiming it is 'All Seeing' without the growing number of web conspiracy theorists sinking their teeth into the new Illuminati search engine overlords. I, for one, feel resistance to welcome them, to don

  • A quote from the description of the Windows logo

    Why red, green, blue and yellow? They are all primary colors, and contrast well to the human eye

    GREEN is NOT a primary color!!! This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Green is a secondary color along with purple and orange, it is made by combining yellow and blue.

    I work in the TV industry and so many people believe green is a primary color because they see "RGB" monitors (ok that was a while ago), or the red green and blue connections on HD TVS, "they must all be primary colors". Argh!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      There are no magic three color pigments that actually exist to make all other colors. red, blue and yellow as the 'mother' colors is just a construct. as far as those TV's are concerned, using the subtractive method (light, not pigment), Red Green Blue ARE the primary colors, because it uses them to make all others it can. Read up on trichromats. You can use lots of 3 different colors as the primary colors.
      • [...] as far as those TV's are concerned, using the __subtractive__additive method (light, not pigment), Red Green Blue ARE the primary colors[...]

    • by Temporal ( 96070 )

      Red, green, and blue are the primary colors of light. They are the primary colors because they correspond to the three color receptors in our eyes.

      Cyan, magenta, and yellow are the primary colors of ink. They are the *opposites* of red, green, and blue, respectively. Ink works subtractively -- you start from white and remove color -- while light works additively -- you start from black and add. This is why their primary colors are opposites.

      The primary colors of ink are often simplified to blue, red, an

      • They are the primary colors because they correspond to the three color receptors in our eyes.

        Other way around.

        Our eyes have red, green, and blue receptors because those are the primary colours [of light].

        • by Tacvek ( 948259 )

          That is absurd. We evolved those three specific colors color receptors because they worked reasonably well for distinguishing objects. We could also just as easily have evolved violet, cyan, and orange color receptors.

      • by stdarg ( 456557 )

        Ink works subtractively -- you start from white and remove color -- while light works additively -- you start from black and add.

        I've never understood why that is. I know red paint reflects red light and green paint reflects green light. I know this because you can paint a black surface and it no longer looks black, so paint doesn't act purely like a filter. It definitely reflects light.

        If I mix red and green paint, it seems to me that whenever light happens to hit a red paint molecule the red light component will be reflected and whenever it hits a green paint molecule the green light component will be reflected. If I mix the paints

        • by Tacvek ( 948259 )

          You are thinking about it the wrong way around. In the magenta pigment, you have particles that absorb yellow light. (All light not absorbed is reflected). In Cyan pigment you have particles that absorb red light. yellow pigment the blue light is absorbed.

          You mix the blue and cyan pigments, and the red and blue light is absorbed, leaving only the green light to be reflected.

    • by dotgain ( 630123 )

      GREEN is NOT a primary color!!! This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Green is a secondary color along with purple and orange, it is made by combining yellow and blue.

      I work in the TV industry...

      Not any more you don't. Get out, you're fired. Take a look at the Vectorscope on your way out.

  • Well that was disappointing, I was hoping to see images of each version of the Windows logo to show how it evolved, not just a quick description of it with only the latest logo shown. Then the same for Apple and any other company that has gone through years of growth and change. Basically you could have put all the logos on one page and said, "Hey, look at these!" and you would still come away with the same thing.
  • I like how the Google chrome logo looks like one of those ominous all seeing eyes of a HAL or Skynet like computer. If any company has the potential to create a skynet, its Google. All hail CHROME!

  • by JonJ ( 907502 )
    No mention of the BSD Daemon or Puffy? :(
    • I agree! In fact, the person who created the most famous version of the BSD Daemon logo was none other than Pixar's John Lasseter.

  • by sc0ob5 ( 836562 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:11AM (#29020093)
    I always thought the Windows flag was Microsoft laying claim to your computer, and everything on it...
  • "... and look ahead to their future." More like a future where this portion of the article graces us with it's existence! For shame, /. , not your finest hour... And here I was practically salivating at the prospect of laying these peepers on a (needless to say, though say it I must:) very highly anticipated OS-logo-of-the-future design mock-up slideshow. (One day, though...) For now, however, I'm ever so very marginally outraged!
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @03:10AM (#29020369) Homepage Journal
    The chrome logo is one the most freaky, scary things around. The big eye looking under the bed, in the drawers and behind he picture frames for any secrets that may be made public for a profit.

    I just wonder if the upcoming chrome OS is going to get he same scrutiny when it 'phones home' as other OS do.

  • the article contains almost no information on most of the icons featured, disappointed at the anti-apple remarks. Soooo much more could have been done with this subject.

  • So many unnecessary pages! and each is so fucking slow to load with all the junk it's filled with. It's much less fun to read a list of things when you have time to tab back to Slashdot and complain in between each item.
  • And "Geeko" is a portmanteau, not a contraction.

  • Obligatory Dilbert strip [] on the Lucent logo []

  • The magazine most likely to: Make me question my career choice.

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.