The Apple Pirate Flag – A Fun Story from Apple History, and a Free Wallpaper

May 4, 2024 - 1 Comment

Apple Pirate Flag or Apple Jolly Roger recreated as a wallpaper

“It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.” – Steve Jobs

Have you ever seen the Apple Pirate Flag, sometimes called the Apple Jolly Roger, and wondered what the story was around that? I did too, so I dug into a bit to uncover a fun little part of Apple history.

What’s the story of the Apple Pirate Flag?

Apple’s early days were marked by a rebellious spirit, symbolized by the iconic “Apple Pirate Flag”, and a shortened version of the story goes like this; In 1983, the Macintosh team was kind of a skunkworks division within Apple, and their goal was radical; build a revolutionary desktop computer that was easy to use. Needing a symbol for their fight, and inspired by the now famous Steve Jobs quote about being a pirate, early Apple employee Steve Capps commissioned a flag bearing a skull and crossbones from Apple designer Susan Kare, adorned with the rainbow Apple logo as an eye patch, to which he then snuck onto the roof of the Apple campus roof and hoisted the colors high.

This flag became a rallying cry for the team, embodying their individuality and creativity. It even snuck into some marketing materials, solidifying its place as a symbol of Apple’s “think different” culture. Though no longer flying outside headquarters, the pirate spirit remains ingrained in the company’s DNA, driving them to constantly innovate and challenge the status quo.

The Apple Pirate Flag Resurfaces

That pirate ethos continued well into later Apple years, as you can see in this Easter Egg video included in System 7.1 CD’s from the team who built the Quadra 840V and Centris 660AV around 1993. In the video, a pirate flag is seen in the background.

And more recently, as late as 2016, Apple has flown a pirate flag or Jolly Roger flag over their Cupertino headquarters.

When will the Apple Pirate Flag fly again? Time will tell!

Can you get your own Apple Pirate Flag?

If you’d like to buy an Apple Pirate Flag of your own, and from the original designer who came up with it (!), Susan Kare still makes them by hand, and they’re available to purchase for $9,750 as of this writing.

I would love to have one of these for myself, but that’s significantly out of my personal price range, but maybe with enough popular demand, affordable reproductions or prints would be made available?

How about a free Apple Pirate Flag wallpaper?

And if you simply want an Apple Pirate Flag wallpaper for your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, here you go (from this retro wallpaper post back in 2012), it’s a replica built around the same general design and makes for a fun desktop background:

Apple Pirate Flag or Apple Jolly Roger recreated as a wallpaper

Or you can get another recreation of the Apple Jolly Roger with a subtle linen/cloth type pattern from here.

Get the Full Story from the Amazing!

Now you know a little more about a little piece of Apple history, but the truth is nobody tells the story better than Andy Hertzfeld at his excellent website,, which has over 100 other stories about the early days of Apple and the Macintosh.

If you’re a fan of Apple history, don’t miss it!


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Posted by: Ali Khan in Fun, News, Retro

One Comment

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  1. GymW says:

    I only wish that Tim Cook would choose to once again to embrace this culture and modify Apples business paradigm to include it. It might prove beneficial to him in avoiding history and his legacy being linked to John Sculley.

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