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Top Ten Apple T-Shirts

In his 1990 book, "The Macintosh Way," Guy Kawasaki draws a flowchart depicting Apple's process for creating great products. The first step in the order of operations? "Order t-shirt."

And so, as long as Apple has been around, there has been Apple apparel to clothe its fans. To see what I mean, look no further than Gordon Thygeson's "Apple T-Shirts: A Yearbook of History at Apple Computer" ($40). The book is chock full of photos of over 1,000 memorable and rare Apple t-shirts from over the years. But the days of great Apple tees are not gone, and there are still great Apple shirts out there today! Here's a top ten list of my favorite Apple t-shirts you can still add to your wardrobe.

1984 Mac Ad Homage -- If you're of a certain age, you might remember watching the iconic 1984 Super Bowl ad for the first Macintosh in real time. For the rest of us, there's always YouTube. This shirt, from FastMac, is a subtle homage to that advertisement. With its boldly colored Anya Major silhouette, the design is a nod to the Mac's emergence to those in the know, and an intriguingly ambiguous image to those who aren't. ($9.99)


The Spinner -- Imagine, every time you put on this shirt displaying the famous Apple spinning gear, it's like you're powering up! The simple abstract design from Bird Doctor will be instantly recognized by Mac users, but should you want to hide your geek credentials, this symbol will go undetected by those out of the (Infinite) loop. ($22)

da Vinci iPhone, Exploded -- Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, designed an ornithopter flying machine, and, according to this shirt, created the iPhone. (Well, actually, the artist is Kevin Tong, but let's pretend.) You can also find an exploded Mac shirt as well, designed by Gary Booth, at Dion Briggs's site. ($20)


I'm a PC, Dying a Slow Blue Death -- Take the Mac versus PC debate into your own hands, in a subversive sorta way with this shirt from Indie Tech. ($7.50)

Keyboard Skull -- This shirt, designed by Rubyred and available at RedBubble, features a skull assembled from Apple keyboard keys. Yet, it's only after close inspection that the Command key indicates the keyboard's allegiance. How should one interpret the design's meaning? It's your call, but at the very least, it's a good conversation starter. ($26.13)

Apple Retro Rainbow -- What is there to say? This classic throwback design from Geek/Science can even be printed on a faded yellow shirt to nail that early 1980s look. ($11.99)


The Apple Timeline -- A brief history of Apple from Insanely Great Tees: educate those around you, or simply remind yourself of where the time has gone! ($19)

Crazy Light-Up Apple Logo Shirt -- Winning the award for wackiest concept, this shirt's Apple logo responds to audio input by lighting up. Sure, you have to wear a battery pack, but the guaranteed attention it garners for you will be worth it! Unfortunately, likely for legal reasons, the shirt is no longer available at its original online store. Luckily, you can still nab one on eBay! (Buy It Now price: $31.99)

The Bomb -- Experiencing an unrecoverable system error of a day? Put on your Bomb shirt from Insanely Great Tees and keep your chin up! Mac OS X's spinning pizza of death has nothing on the original bomb symbol designed by Susan Kare. ($19)


T-Shirt App -- It seems like there's an app for everything, including getting dressed. Beware, though, since you might get a few unwanted icon taps on this shirt from Zazzle. ($33.75)


Have I missed your favorite t-shirt? While all lists must come to a close, there are certainly many more Apple t-shirts out there, hiding in dresser drawers around the world. If you've come across any cool Apple-related shirts that weren't touched on here, I'd love to hear about them. Happy shirt hunting!


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Comments about Top Ten Apple T-Shirts
(Comments are closed.)

Mike Davis  2009-07-21 18:49
One of my favorite Apple t-shirts (and sweatshirts) was sold at Macworld in SF during the late '90s. It was black and had the mock Apple logo (the multicolored Apple with the bite on the wrong side) on it with the following saying underneath the logo: "Macintosh, The power to crush the other kids". This of course was in reference to old Saturday Night Live mock commercial which showed a kindergarten student showing off the work he did at home on his Macintosh to his friends who were all amazed at what he could do, as well as being depressed by the fact that they could not do these things on their PCs at home. In fact one kid even remarked that they must be stupid because they did not have a Mac. The mock commercial then ended with a black screen, the mock Apple logo and the saying underneath it. The narrator then says "Macintosh, the power to crush the other kids".
Matt Kelley  2009-07-22 05:07
My favorite says it all: "Cupertino Smiles"

;-) Cupertino
:-( Redmond

See the artwork at http://www.cafepress.com/cupertinosmiles
Victor Aldridge  2009-07-22 08:22
I miss Mac Surf Shop.
Hypercard4Ever  2009-08-17 19:12
Totally Dogcow.

Gene Dunnam  2009-08-17 14:29
My favorite Mac Tee was ordered by my wife from 'Computer Gear'.
It's gray, with the statement:
"A Bad Day Using a Mac
is better than a good day using Windows"
john Springer  2009-08-17 19:13
I've still got a "Moof" t-shirt. Long live the old print dialog (I think that's where the cowdog was.)
Steve Sims  2009-08-18 04:44
Must say I'm a little disappointed. These aren't real Apple t-shirts, they're unofficial ones made by third parties cashing in on the Apple brand.

Real Apple t-shirts are the ones that Guy Kawasaki spoke about. Ones that Apple gave away to employees, and other associates. They cannot be bought. I don't know if Apple still do this, since it's been a while since I worked with them, but back in the mists of time I had several Newton t-shirts and sweatshirts from them.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2009-08-18 05:09
We figured for this article that it would be more fun if people had a chance to buy the ones they liked.

Writing about all those short-run shirts for specific groups would be a very tricky proposition. I have a ton of industry t-shirts from a wide variety of companies, but short of doing a massive photo shoot, I'm not sure how to share them in any real way.

Now what we really need is a t-shirt swapping site, so I could ditch some XXLs for defunct companies I never liked in return for something I might wear. (Of course, I could just donate those shirts to the Salvation Army or the like too.)
Derek Currie  2009-08-18 05:35
[Yes, this qualifies! Power Computing were running Mac OS!]

Rare and wonderful is the Power Computing t-shirt entitled "Let's Kick Intel's Ass!" It was withdrawn from the market in two phases. The first was to address the then bad word 'ass' and the second was due to the character on the t-shirt being remarkably like the copyrighted character Sluggo from the Nancy cartoons. I managed to grab the t-shirt and accompanying poster at MacWorld in 1997.

Scott Boveia  2009-08-19 00:11
I didn't think I would ever leave a comment here but to forget the Clarus T-Shirt is unforgivable.

PoppaMike  2012-01-04 19:08

I'm wondering if there are any "Reality Distortion Field...It's in the juice." shirts out there for sale. SO cool!

-PoppaMike •-{)>>>
APPLE II & onwards...