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Macintosh pirate flag reincarnated as art, for sale by original designer Susan Kare

Former Apple designer Susan Kare, who created famously distinct icons for the original Macintosh operating system, is selling through her online shop reproductions of the pirate flag that flew over the Mac team's building in 1983.


Pirate flag as seen in 1984 Fortune Magazine photo (left) with Kare's reproduction. | Source: Folklore.org


More of an homage than a direct copy, the hand-painted reproductions harken back to Kare's original design that flew over Bandley 3, a building which housed the original Macintosh Divison on Apple's Cupertino, Calif., campus.

According to Andy Hertzfeld, one of Apple's first developers, the flag was inspired by a slogan coined by late cofounder Steve Jobs to inspire the Macintosh team. Jobs introduced three "Sayings from Chairman Jobs" during an off-site retreat in 1983:

"Real artists ship. It's better to be a pirate than join the navy. Mac in a book by 1986."

Drawing from Jobs' sayings, and to stand apart from other nondescript buildings on Apple's growing campus, Macintosh programmer Steve Capps suggested flying a flag.

A few days before we moved into the new building, Capps bought some black cloth and sewed it into a flag. He asked Susan Kare to paint a big skull and crossbones in white at the center. The final touch was the requisite eye-patch, rendered by a large, rainbow-colored Apple logo decal.


Kare's flags are hand-painted and come in 3-by-5 foot or 4-by-6 foot sizes priced at $1,900 and $2,500, respectively. The pieces are considered art and not intended for outdoor use.