I found this interview with Rob Janoff, who designed the Apple logo. In it he talks about how many different stories people have come up with surrounding the creation of the logo and how many different meanings people have attributed to that one symbol.

Interview with Rob Janoff, designer of the Apple logo

In class we’ve discussed the three categories of signs that Peirce came up with, viz. icon, index, and symbol. And, in thinking about the Apple logo I realize that it is both iconic, in that it resembles an apple, and symbolic. The only thing connecting the apple with a computer is the agreement we have accepted, that one represents the other.

Peirce also described three properties for signs, those being firstness, secondness, and thirdness. The firstness, or feeling I get when I look at the sign, for the Apple logo is a happy feeling. (Sometimes even giddy when I’ve heard Apple’s released new products.) Secondness, or what constitutes the fact part of the sign, is the company represented by the apple. The thirdness, or association we derive from the sign, is hipness, coolness, a sense of cutting edge technology that remains slightly ahead of main stream.

The sense of firstness being happy constitutes my point of view. Other people will have different feelings associated with the Apple logo. I think someone might argue that my description of the thirdness of the Apple logo would be more apt as firstness. I really think that the association the company has fostered between the logo and what it represents is one of unparalleled design and cutting edge technology so I stand by my choice of thirdness.

(To those of you who got to apple in the title and finished singing …pie and Chevrolet, congratulations. The thirdness of those three iconic symbols put together has withstood the test of time. We’re also showing our age. 😉 )