Apple's Safari browser was almost called 'Freedom,' thanks to Steve Jobs

For a company as secretive as Apple, it's always a treat for Apple enthusiasts to get a behind-the-scenes peek into even the most mundane details surrounding the company.

For a company as secretive as Apple, it's always a treat for Apple enthusiasts to get a behind-the-scenes peek into even the most mundane details surrounding the company.

To that end, former Apple engineer Don Melton recently posted a myriad of interesting stories regarding the initial development of Apple's Safari web browser, which was internally codenamed 'Alexander.' For instance, before Safari was officially named "Safari," Steve Jobs was contemplating calling the browser "Freedom," perhaps because it reflected Apple's freedom from Internet Explorer. Not surprisingly, Melton describes Jobs as being heavily involved in the naming of the browser, though he can't remember exactly who came up with the eventual winner - Safari.

From that point on, we had a brief discussion about the product name at random HI design sessions every month. Again, I don’t remember any particular name we talked about. They all sounded so awful to me that I’ve purged from my mind the trauma of imagining the browser being labeled with any of them. And the candidate names seemed to get worse the closer we got to shipping.

In another post, Melton described details surrounding the official launch of Safari, which if you recall made its illustrious debut at the Macworld Expo in 2003. You know, back when Apple actually attended Macworld.

Of particular interest is how Melton describes being in attendance for Steve Jobs' keynote rehearsals.

There’s nothing that can fill your underwear faster than seeing your product fail during a Steve Jobs demo.

One of my concerns at the time was network reliability. So, I brought Ken Kocienda, the first Safari engineer, with me to troubleshoot since he wrote so much of our networking code. If necessary, Ken could also diagnose and duct tape any other part of Safari too. He coined one of our team aphorisms, “If it doesn’t fit, you’re not shoving hard enough.”


Most of the time during those rehearsals, Ken and I had nothing to do except sit in the then empty audience and watch The Master Presenter at work — crafting his keynote. What a privilege to be a spectator during that process. At Apple, we were actually all students, not just spectators. When I see other companies clumsily announce productsthese days, I realize again how much the rest of the world lost now that Steve is gone.

During one rehearsal, Melton describes how Safari hung and wouldn't load any content. Thankfully, though, it was soon discovered that the problem wasn't with Safari but rather the network connection itself which was quickly attended to.

And so, the Safari presentation went off without a hitch. Check out a video of Jobs' typically masterful delivery below. Not surprisingly, Jobs doesn't waste any time in hyping up Safari as he calls it a "turbo browser for Mac OS X." And of course, make sure to check out Melton's blog where he's been posting a ton of fascinating tidbits about the history and development of Apple's Safari browser.

Lastly, it's worth pointing out that for as much of a visionary as Jobs was, naming products never seemed to be his forte. You might recall that he initially wanted to call the original iMac "MacMan."

Crisis averted.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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