Apple’s icons and designs are a big deal. Apple defines itself as a design company, for instance. It prides itself on making the most beautiful as well as the most functional products.
Part of Apple’s design philosophy is to keep things simple: The company believes that users shouldn’t need instructions on how to operate its gadgets, it should just be obvious.
One way Apple has achieved that is by using a series of longstanding icons that we’ve all come to recognise. These symbols are so familiar, we don’t need to be told what to do.
Apple has mostly followed a “skeuomorphic design” strategy: its symbols look like literal representations of the objects they represent, so the Newsstand app appears to have wooden shelves, just like an actual newsstand. (And at one point there was a sort of civil war inside the company over whether this skeuomorphism had gone too far.)
As such, a lot of Apple’s icons have decidedly vintage, non-digital origins. We bet you don’t know what the curly square on the command key started out as, for example …
The story goes that Steve Jobs became annoyed that the Apple symbol was being used too much on devices in 1983. So bitmap artist Susan Kare looked through a book of international symbols to replace the Apple command, and picked one that denotes campground attractions and ancient monuments in Scandinavia. It's been there ever since.
It is sometimes also called the pretzel key.
Apple's original logo showed Newton sitting under an apple tree, where he was inspired to develop his theory of gravity. Apples were also one of founder Steve Jobs' favourite fruits.
Apple's batteries look nothing like the traditional battery symbol it uses. In most Apple products, you can't even see the batteries.
This ought to be an easy one: You know this is the iPhone's phone call symbol. But Apple has never made a phone that looks like that ...
The symbol comes from this type of rotary dial phone, which hasn't been in general use since the early 1990s.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.