Backlit Apple Logo Could Make a Comeback on Future MacBooks
Apple could be considering a return of the iconic backlit Apple logo on future MacBook models, if a newly published patent is anything to go by.
Once a common sight in coffee shops everywhere, the glowing emblem of an Apple logo featured on the lids of many Mac laptops launched in the early 2000s, but its demise in 2015 could turn out to be relatively short-lived.
Filed by Apple in May 2022 and published last week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a new patent summarizes various implementations of "Electronic Devices With Backlit Partial Mirror Structures," but the illustrated example leaves readers in little doubt about the specific use case Apple has in mind.
"An electronic device such as a laptop computer or other device may have a housing. Components such as a display and keyboard may be mounted in the housing. The rear of the housing may be provided with a logo. The logo or other structures in the device may be provided with a backlit partially reflective mirror. The mirror may provide the logo or other structures with a shiny appearance while blocking interior components from view. At the same time, the partial transparency of the mirror allows backlight illumination from within the device to pass through the mirror."
"One or more thin-film layers may be configured to provide the partially reflective mirror with desired visible light reflection spectrum, a desired visible light transmission spectrum, and a desired visible light absorption spectrum. The reflectivity of the mirror may be configured so that the mirror serves as a one-way mirror for the logo or other structure. The mirror may have a neutral color such as light gray or may have a non-neutral color such as gold."
Patently Apple, which first highlighted the document, notes that three of the engineers listed on the patent only joined Apple in 2018, long after the backlit logo was dropped from Mac laptops, indicating that a different methodology is being described.
The first Mac laptop with a lit-up Apple logo was the third-generation PowerBook G3 launched in 1999, and the glowing symbol proved a mainstay through consecutive Apple notebooks for the next 16 years. The only change in that period was that the logo got flipped upright, so that it no longer appeared upside down to onlookers when someone was sat in public with the lid open.
In 2015, Apple began nixing the illuminated insignia from its laptops, starting with the ultra-thin 12-inch MacBook, which had a polished metal logo instead, like those seen on iPads. In 2016, a new generation of MacBook Pro models continued the unlit trend, and Apple hasn't launched a Mac laptop with a glowing logo since.