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"Apple key" is the term employed by users of Apple Macintosh computers to refer to the command key.

It is named thus as a small representation of an Apple logo appears on it. It is used as a modifier key by the computer's operating system.

Despite their reknown for being easier to use by the general populace than other computers, Apple computers have had a bit of confusion caused by one little keyboard unit: the Apple Key.

First introduced to Apple II computers, there were two keys with a rainbow filled apple symbol on them that filled the function like a shift lever on a typewriter: adding another level to the commands given. More importantly at the time, they also functioned as the A and B buttons found on joystick consoles for computer games. In later versions of Apple computers, the symbol on the key became solid black, and then a simple outlineª. Shortcut symbols in software menus showed keyboard combinations used to perform shortcuts, such as the apple symbol and the letter Q to Quit a program.

As the Apple Macintosh computers were being developed, Steve Jobs decided this overuse of the apple symbol in all these menus was detrimental to the company, ('taking the apple logo in vain!') and insisted that a new symbol be used. The brilliant Susan Kare came up with what's mostly called the cloverleaf symbol (⌘), based on the the map symbol in european countries for places of interest.

Until 2007, the apple symbol was still shown-- sometimes to the right side of the key and some times to the left-- on apple keyboards. As the key issued a 'command' it also became known as a command key, and the letters 'Cmd' were later added to the key. There is also an 'optional' key--usually to the right of the apple key-- which was initially used for adding accents to characters, and various global shortcuts, but was first shown with a bizarre springboard symbol (and later with the letters 'alt' above it).

Although the apple symbol is no longer shown on the cloverleaf command key, longtime Apple users still refer to it, and subvocalise it when performing keyboard combinations. For users of other computers, trying to find a control key or alt key or command key or option key has always, and until very recently, caused undue confusion and frustration.

Was Jobs right in the first place to get rid of the Apple key? It's all apples and oranges.


for Mad May's Artifacts, Apples and Characters challenge.

ªMajor General Panic has reminded me to also mention the change with Apple II later models of the symbols to an open apple (outlined) on the left bottom row and closed apple (solid) on the right. One series also had an apple symbol without a bite out of it.

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