<pre><pre>A photo history of Frog, the company that designed the original Mac

It is the 50th anniversary of the creation of Frog Design (or, as the company designs it, simply "frog"). The company was founded in 1969 by Hartmut Esslinger in Germany and created some of the first designs for Sony, but the moment of outbreak came with Apple in the early 80s.


The request for Apple's proposal (RFP) was simply: "A six-month study of a potential new product family and associated peripherals by selected world-class designers in collaboration with Apple staff designers." Next, code names for different types of products were mentioned, each named after one of the seven dwarfs from Snow white. Frog eventually won the contract and worked with Apple to create the Snow White design, which debuted on the Apple IIc and continued with the original Mac.

  • Doc: Lisa Next Generation
  • Sneezy: P.C.S Next Generation
  • Happy: MAC Next Generation
  • Bashful: "Book" computer
  • Sleepy: mouse
  • Grumpy: Printer
  • Dopey: external 3 1/2-inch cartridge floppy drive
  • Flower: external 5 1/4-inch hard drive

The RFP ended with an image of the Wicked Queen and the quote with the question: "Who is the prettiest of them all?" That is a reluctant thing to set up a document that starts a competition between design firms & # 39; s. And I suspect it might say something about how Apple and Steve Jobs saw themselves.

We waved through Frog's studio in San Francisco this week to take a look at a small exhibition for which it was put together San Francisco Design Week. In addition to some original wood prototypes for classic Apple devices, the company also shows other designs it has worked on in its history – from the everyday to the very weird. The company is holding on a reception tonight at his offices, but because it is sold out, you can browse through one virtual gallery through a website that created it.

Here is a selection of what we saw in the Frog offices. (Click to enlarge a photo.)

The original RFP to create the design language that would eventually become Snow White, used on the original Macintosh. Frog Design won the proposal and helped the Apple design product from 1983 to 1989.


Macintosh SE (left, 1984), Macintosh Classic II (right, 1987). The horizontal lines on the SE were intended to recall lines of computer code. They were phased out for the Classic II. These designs contain a "casing with zero pull, "They had narrower tolerances than other housings and were harder to produce – and therefore harder to copy.

A model for the Lisa prototype made of wood and foam. It is designed to have a screen the size of a sheet of paper for WYSIWYG work. The slot at the bottom was intended to accommodate two floppy drives.

Snow White also included peripherals such as monitors and printers. This monitor model from 1982 is made of wood and foam. It would eventually sell alongside the Mac IIc. The prototype of the "line" printer is from the same year. Frog says that this wooden prototype was part of Esslinger's original pitch for Steve Jobs, who won the RFP.

Jobs was famously dismissed from Apple and formed NeXT computers. Frog was purchased to design the NeXt cube with "smart station", aimed at the education market.

Frog designed the digital answering machine from AT & T in 1990, the model 1337.

These days Frog does more than just design enclosures. It also does interactive software design and business advice. Polk commissioned Frog to research its product lines in three different brands to see how it could handle Beats headphones better (before it was purchased by Apple). Frog's conclusion: most consumers care less about audio quality than when they look at what their headphones look like.


The IQ / MAX tower, a "multi-line telephone system with multiple speakers" designed for IPC in 2010. It was intended as an aid for stock traders aged just before the automated trade took over.

The Meta AR headset, 2015. Designed to adopt the HoloLens, it distinguished itself with a wider field of vision, but had to be attached to a computer. Meta stopped in January 2019 and the assets have been sold, but the company that bought it remains cautious about what it intends to do.

Frog has also designed the Mobvoi TicWatch, but with Android Wear there is not much flexibility in which form factors are possible. Frog & # 39; s original design included a capacitive strip on the side instead of a dial.

Photograph by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

Frog & # 39; s San Francisco design studio and some of Frog & # 39; s logos & # 39; s over the years. Note the four-color logo in the middle, which, according to Frog, is before the multicolor logo from Google. The two have a striking similarity with each other.

Photography by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge