The APL community is contemplating the adoption of a common logo but some are worried about trouble from Apple lawyers. Now, IBM and others have been using apple motifs in promoting APL for a long time, but how long exactly? Maybe it can be shown to predate the lawsuit-happy Apple Computer Company?

When was an apple first used to promote APL?

  • 11
    Wow! I'm a long time (ago) APL user and can't remember an apple ever being used as a logo! (And it would never ever have occurred to me to pronounce it "apple" instead of "A-P-L" - I wonder if I would have made the connection even if I saw it ...) Nice question! (And the funny thing is, there never was an APL keyboard with an apple symbol at the time even though they're ubiquitous now ...) Here's a secondary question: Suppose they had added an "apple" key to the APL keyboard (and type-ball): which function would it have been mapped to? (existing or newly invented)
    – davidbak
    Nov 22, 2021 at 20:50
  • 1
    “Maybe it can be shown to predate the lawsuit-happy Apple Computer Company?” The thing about prior art and precedent, which is what your question implies, is it means that that the logo would have had to have been officially and commonly used in the past. Your examples are interesting, but they seem to be fan-made/hobby user creations. I mean the BSD Daemon was established since 1976 as an official mascot. An Apple being used by APL seems to be a cute novelty. Nov 25, 2021 at 18:22
  • 1
    @Giacomo1968 Thank you for that remark. Yeah, it'll probably be wisest to stick with a non-apple logo.
    – Adám
    Nov 25, 2021 at 18:27
  • 3
    I think Apple would have a good case. The Apple logo is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. Prior art etc doesn't matter where registered trademarks are concerned. What does matter is that, if you have a trademark, you have to defend it or it could be revoked. Furthermore, it most certainly could be confusing. People who don't know about APL might assume it has something to do with Apple. So yes, APL should keep away from it to avoid legal battles they might lose.
    – JeremyP
    Nov 26, 2021 at 8:56
  • 1
    Can I suggest another way to deal with this: APL can also be interpreted as “Ape-L.” Knowing that, someone can just come up with some witty logo based around the idea of “Ape-L”; an Ape associated with the letter “L.” Nov 27, 2021 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


I think you may be confused.

The APL language predates even the Apple I computer by at least 7-8 years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/APL_(programming_language)

This Application Programming Language was used on IBM360 mainframes in the 1960's and continues today.

Its longevity is much like FORTRAN and COBOL in that its necessity is required from legacy applications written for banking/government and other heavy industry where they don't want to mess with something that isn't outright broken.

For Apple Computer, Inc.: this would be the lineage of their use of an apple within their logo.

enter image description here

  • 8
    I think you may be confused. My question isn't whether APL (which by the way derives its name from a book called A Programming Language) pre-dates Apple Inc, but rather trying to establish "When was an apple first used to promote APL?".
    – Adám
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .