Dylan sues Apple

Filed under: Did you know that...

In the summer of 1994 folk singer Bob Dylan sued Apple for trademark infringement.
The musician was seeking to bar the company from using his name in conjunction with any new software product.

Bob Dylan in Think DifferentApple had in fact been developing a programming language derived from Scheme and Lisp and had called it ‘Dylan’.

It was created in the early 1990s and was originally intended for use with the Newton platform. Unfortunately the implementation did not reach sufficient maturity in time, and the development of the platform was instead done with a combination of C and NewtonScript, invented by Walter Smith.

The Dylan language internally was code-named Ralph and only later adopted its name, chosen by James Joaquin. It supposedly stood for “DYnamic LANguage”.

After Bob Dylan took legal action Apple was forced to reach a confidential out-of-court settlement to obtain the rights to trademark Dylan. The Cupertino company briefly released the language for 68k-based Macs in the fall of 1995, with a “technology release” version available (“Apple Dylan TR1″) that included an advanced IDE.
The same year Apple promptly abandoned the effort.

Fortunately the language has survived and is actively maintained by a group of volunteers, the Gwydion Maintainers.
During the Nineties two other parties contributed to the design of Dylan and developed their implementations. One was a commercial IDE for Microsoft Windows, done by Harlequin and the second was an open source compiler for Unix systems, done by Carnegie Mellon University. Both of these implementations are now open source and available online -as Open Dylan and Gwydion Dylan- for a variety of platforms thanks to the aforementioned Gwydion Maintainers.

The image of Bob Dylan is from the Apple ‘Think Different’ campaign and is taken from Red Light Runner Store.

Monday 22 June 2009, 1:48 pm
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3 comments


3 Comments »

  1. [...] 1994: While hardly a secret, Apple formally unveiled its new object-oriented dynamic programming language, Dylan, aimed at expanding Apple’s library of commercial software titles. Shortly afterward, Bob Dylan filed a trademark infringement suit. (No joke.) [...]

    Pingback by The Complete History of the WWDC Keynote | iPhone 3G Tricks — June 4, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

  2. [...] 1994: While hardly a secret, Apple formally unveiled its new object-oriented dynamic programming language, Dylan, aimed at expanding Apple’s library of commercial software titles. Shortly afterward, Bob Dylan filed a trademark infringement suit. (No joke.) [...]

    Pingback by The Complete History of the WWDC Keynote @ Share-CNhua — June 6, 2010 @ 2:09 am

  3. [...] a Mac OS. In casa Apple di Dylan si ricorda per lo più la querelle legale con il cantante Bob che fece causa all’azienda di Cupertino per violazione del marchio. Dopo un accordo tra le parti e il rilascio pubblico, il progetto venne [...]

    Pingback by WWDC Storia • Tutti gli annunci nella storia della WWDC • Ridble — June 10, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

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