The Origins of the Name 'Safari'

Thursday December 20, 2012 12:04 PM PST by Jordan Golson
NewImageFormer Apple employee Don Melton has shared a unique look behind the scenes of the Safari development team. Melton was the team leader on both the Safari and WebKit products that are now used by millions of users on both iOS, the Mac, and Windows.

The name Safari, however, wasn't decided on until less than a month before the browser was originally launched. A number of different names were suggested, including 'Freedom', but none of them seemed right.

The name 'iBrowse' was used sarcastically within the team, though it was never used within the code. The development code name for Safari was 'Alexander'.
From that point on, we had a brief discussion about the product name at random HI design sessions every month. Again, I don’t remember any particular name we talked about. They all sounded so awful to me that I’ve purged from my mind the trauma of imagining the browser being labeled with any of them. And the candidate names seemed to get worse the closer we got to shipping.

I’m not sure if any of the names I heard came from Steve after that initial session. I think he doomed some group in Marketing to iterate on them for awhile. And the few names I proposed were stinkers too. No one was without sin here.

Finally I stopped thinking about it because of more important things to worry about — like actually getting the engineering done.
In the end, the name 'Safari' was chosen and the rest is history.

Top Rated Comments

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25 months ago
Wow... Pointless story. So you dont remember any of the names and then somehow Safari just appeared.
Rating: 12 Votes
25 months ago
I like “Alexander” actually. Safari seemed weird at the time, and now I’m just used to it. Too bad this origin story is missing, you know, the origin.

“Alexandria” (after the ancient library) would have been a good name. The iOS version could be called “Ale...ria”.
Rating: 11 Votes
25 months ago
I figured it was because Safaris are synonymous with exploration -- web browsing is like exploring the internet, but the word "explore" was already used by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Interesting story, though. Thanks for posting this.
Rating: 10 Votes
25 months ago
the original thought process of coming up with Safari:
internet -> porn -> mating -> we're animals -> jungle -> safari
Rating: 8 Votes
25 months ago
well this was a filler article....
Rating: 7 Votes
25 months ago

The Navigator asked the Explorer, where are the hot Foxes on this here Safari...?

Under the front Chrome bumper of the Jeep.


Going to make an Opera out of that story?
Rating: 6 Votes
25 months ago

Safari...what's that? Oh right, that annoying app that keeps opening whenever I click a web link in other apps even though I have the far more versatile Chrome on the homescreen dock of my iPhone.


let it go, bro
Rating: 6 Votes
25 months ago
"Snappier" had something to do with it.
Rating: 5 Votes
25 months ago
And it lived snappily ever after.
Rating: 5 Votes
25 months ago
I like the name Safari. Every time I surf the web, I feel like I'm going on an adventure!

And I very much like stories like this on the site. Little anecdotes about how things happen at Apple are great. Apple is by most measures the most successful technology company on the planet, and in fact one of the most successful companies on the planet in general. When Safari launched, the future of Apple was not even CLOSE to as bright as it is today. As a businessman, I enjoy getting some of the Apple backstory, as it's something anyone interested in business, marketing and technology would do well to research.
Rating: 4 Votes

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