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11 quirky code names for Apple products

Apple uses secret internal code names for many of its products before they’re released. Over the years, they’ve come up with some really weird ones — including one that led to multiple lawsuits.

1. “Carl Sagan”/”Butt-Head Astronomer” – Power Macintosh 7100

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Apple hoped to make “billions and billions” from this midrange model of the Power Mac. Naturally, they called it “Carl Sagan”…until Sagan sued Apple to make them knock it off. (Other code names for related products included “Piltdown Man” and “Cold Fusion”; Sagan didn’t like being associated, even secretly, with a hoax and pseudoscience.) Although Sagan lost the suit — probably because the code name was never used in public marketing — Apple changed the name. The new name: “BHA” (which was short for “Butt-Head Astronomer”). Sagan again sued, this time for libel, and lost.

2. “C1″ – iMac

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The original iMac went by the extremely boring code name “C1″ and Steve Jobs reportedly wanted to call the finished product “MacMan,” as an homage to the Sony Walkman. Terrified by the prospect of a product named “MacMan,” a group of advertising creatives thought up a series of alternatives, eventually developing “iMac” and convincing Jobs to use it. Ken Segall tells the story of how the iMac was almost a MacMan. (Shudder.)

3. “I Tripoli” and “Cube-E” – System 7.1

Apple’s “System 7″ operating system was a big deal, with the original version bearing the code name “Big Bang” as it heralded the addition of key features like QuickTime, crappy cooperative multitasking, and virtual memory. When the System 7.1 update rolled around, Apple built it to comply with IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standards, hence the code names — “IEEE” is generally pronounced “I triple-E.”

4. “Kanga” – PowerBook G3

Prior to the much-beloved “Wallstreet” and “Pismo” PowerBook G3 models was an odd duck code named “Kanga,” possibly for the Winnie-the-Pooh character. Kanga was billed as the fastest notebook in the world, and it was effectively a G3 CPU crammed into a pre-existing PowerBook 3400 body. Because fully redesigned PowerBook G3 models hit the market just 5 months after Kanga debuted, Wikipedia reports: “Kanga has the dubious distinction of being Apple’s fastest depreciating PowerBook.

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