What’s in a Name: Snow Leopard Examined
Now 7 wild cats have been unleashed on the Apple public and still, no one knows for sure where these once internal code names originated: Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and now Snow Leopard. Sure they all denote a fierce, fast, and sleek animal, but is there more to Apple's famous branding of its OS X versions?
Years ago, TUAW suggested that when Apple blocked British Mac-clone company Shaye from licensing Mac OS 8, it did more than just drive Shaye into another line of business—Apple may have scalped the fur right off Shaye's back by copying the feline litany of its computer models, also called: Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Lion and Lynx.
However, when Mac OS X was released on March 24, 2001, 4.25 years after Apple put an end to Mac clones, the public was unaware of its codename, Cheetah. In fact, the big cat marketing effort didn't gather speed until Jaguar was released a year later. So it seems unlikely that Apple outright stole the cat names from Shaye.
No one else on the web seems to have made a similar statement, and even TUAW notes that the German army names its tanks after wild cats as well. Since that doesn't sound like an image Apple would cultivate, I wonder, where do these names really come from?
For those out there who believe that names are powerful symbols, it is interesting to note that 5 of the OS X codenames: Cheetah, Jaguar, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard are officially endangered species. Is Apple trying to tell us something about the way of the Macintosh?