Apple is flying a pirate flag over its headquarters — here’s why

Friday is the 40th anniversary of Apple’s founding, and to celebrate, Apple flew a pirate flag over its headquarters.

Jolly Roger flying today!

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Here’s why: The pirate flag has a special place in Apple’s history. During a 1983 meeting, CEO Steve Jobs told the Macintosh team:

1. “Real artists ship.” 2. “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.” 3. “Mac in a book by 1986.”

Based on those now iconic “sayings from Chairman Jobs,” the Macintosh team members started to style themselves as pirates. In fact, the phrase “Pirates of Silicon Valley” later became the title of a 1999 Anthony Michael Hall biopic about the early days of Apple.

(“Mac in a book” refers to the team’s efforts to make a laptop. It shipped the 15-pound Mac Portable in 1989.)

As it turns out, the Macintosh team was so inspired by Jobs that it asked designer Susan Kare, who created the icons on the original Macintosh, to create an adapted pirate flag.

According to a post on Folklore.org written by former Apple engineer Andy Hertzfeld, Jobs loved the flag:

Steve Capps, the heroic programmer who had switched over from the Lisa team just in time for the January retreat, had a flash of inspiration: if the Mac team was a band of pirates, the building should fly a pirate flag.

A few days before we moved into the new building, Capps bought some black cloth and sewed it into a flag. He asked Susan Kare to paint a big skull and crossbones in white at the center. The final touch was the requisite eye-patch, rendered by a large, rainbow-colored Apple logo decal. We wanted to have the flag flying over the building early Monday morning, the first day of occupancy, so the plan was to install it late Sunday evening …

We weren’t sure how everyone would react to the flag, especially Steve Jobs, but Steve and almost everyone else loved it, so it became a permanent fixture of the building. It usually made me smile when I caught a glimpse of it as I came to work in the morning.


Here’s a picture of Jobs with the flag:

Apple Macintosh team Pirate flagApple Macintosh team Pirate flag

Now Apple is celebrating that history, flying a pirate flag above its headquarters on Thursday and Friday, and employees can’t stop posting photos on Instagram:

Omg I #love where I #work! #Apple #pirateship #fortieth #anniversary #California

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“It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.” ????

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“It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.” ????

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#piratesofsiliconvalley @ Apple HQ

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#4

A post shared by Imran Chaudhri (@imranchaudhri) on


#sunset #photography #pirate #california

A post shared by suni_badger (@suni_badger) on


Вот такие они пираты Силиконовой Долины ????

A post shared by Natali (@wertushechka) on


“Better to be a pirate than join the navy!” Happy Birthday, Apple! #apple40

A post shared by Brett Williams (@blw1138) on


Better to be a pirate than join the navy.

A post shared by Samuel Iglesias (@siglesias) on


“It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.” Happy (almost) 40 years Apple!

A post shared by Alex Palmer (@adpalmer) on


Flying the old pirate flag at work! #yarr #piratesofsiliconvalley #apple #birthday

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If you’d like to buy your own Apple pirate flag, hand-painted versions are on sale at Susan Kare’s website for $2,250.

Buy it here.