Apple Confidential: First It Was The Beatles, Then Carl Sagan And Finally Bob Dylan - Why The Man Who Purloined His Own Name, Took Apple To Court Over It!

 Blowin' Smoke in the Wind

 by Owen W. Linzmayer ____________________________________________________________________________________________

In parallel with the Newton project engineers were also developing a programming language under the code name Ralph (after Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man). When the Newton team decided to pursue the Pocket Newt (code-named Junior) device, which lacked the power and memory Ralph required, the programming language was repurposed for use on the Macintosh. As the Mac version of Ralph neared completion, Apple decided to name the product Dylan, which stood for dynamic language. Beta versions were distributed on CDs at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in May 1994. On August 24, 1994, folk singer Bob Dylan sued Apple for trademark infringement in the U. S. Central District Court of California in Los Angeles.

Seeking unspecified damages, Dylan's lawyer, Joseph A. Yanny, requested a temporary restraining order barring Apple from using Bob Dylan's name in conjunction with any new software product. According to the lawsuit, "Apple is intentionally using, and intentionally has used, the names of famous individuals, including (Isaac) Newton, Carl Sagan and now Dylan, in conjunction with Apple's products in a deliberate attempt to capitalize on the goodwill associated with these famous individuals."

Bob Dylan took exception to Apple's use of his last name for a programming language.

Shortly after the suit was filed, Apple reached a confidential out-of-court settlement and obtained the rights to trademark Dylan. In a December 14, 1994 FAQ distributed to developers, Apple explained, "It is our intention to license the Dylan trademark to any implementation which passes a standard test suite. The purpose of the trademark is to ensure quality and consistency among implementations." At that time, Apple was planning to release Dylan for 68000-based Macs in mid-1995.

Apple shipped Dylan in the fall of 1995, then abandoned the effort on November 17 during an overall reduction in research and development. Once Sun Microsystems' Java caught on in the Internet community, Apple reasoned that there really was no reason for it to continue developing Dylan. However, Harlequin Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, forged ahead with work on a version for Wintel clones. Harlequin's first implementation of Dylan targeted at Windows 95 and Windows NT shipped in mid-1998.










It's ironic that Bob Dylan would sue Apple over the use of the name Dylan, considering he was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941, as Robert Zimmerman and legally adopted the first name of early 20th-century Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in August 1962










Whatever problems Apple had previously with Dylan were swept aside in 1997 when Apple began using the singer's image in its Think Different advertising campaign, presumably with Dylan's approval.

The above article is excerpted from Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc. by Owen W. Linzmayer, 1999, ISBN 1-886411-28-X, Available from No Starch Press 1-800-420-7240 at a special 30% discount

Copyright 1999 Owen W. Linzmayer; used by permission.


Owen Linzmayer is a San Francisco-based freelance writer who has been covering Apple since 1980. He has contributed to every major Macintosh publication, and currently writes for MacAddict, among other publications. For extensive information on the unvarnished, interesting and turbulent history of Apple Computer, get Owen's book, Apple Confidential.

Click here to go to Owen's web site. E-mail him here:




Back to MacSpeedZone Front Page

For Free Macintosh Hardware Click Here

| Top |