When I went to my first World Wide Developer Conference, I was advised to leave a lot of extra room in my suitcase for t-shirts. Having been an intern at Apple in the Netherlands a few years earlier, I didn’t laugh at that advice, but I still came home with one more suitcase than anticipated. Since then, my collection has grown considerably, and my current co-workers know that behind every shirt I wear, there’s a story. Apparently, I’m not the only one collecting shirts with the Apple logo, because Gordon Thygeson <[email protected]> managed to publish more than a thousand pictures of them in his new book Apple T-shirts, now available via the Web for $39.95.
History of Apple — If there’s one thing the book makes clear, it’s that writing the history of Apple is impossible without mentioning t-shirts – or, rather, a lot of them. (For a good companion book, check out the Mac Bathroom Reader, by Owen W. Linzmayer.) Browsing through Apple T-shirts, you see a lot of long-forgotten codenames, discontinued products, and an occasional sting to an individual, probably long gone. More recent t-shirts are there as well, of course – the recent bad press about Apple doesn’t seem to have had an influence on the creativity of the folks who wear project t-shirts as badges of honor.
Why the T-shirts? — The author mentions a number of reasons for the popularity and proliferation of t-shirts, ranging from "bumper stickers you can wear all day" to pride over an achievement, and the fact that at Apple, t-shirts are a form of identification: they tell co-workers what project you are working on, or what you’ve worked on in the past. If you can look past the "Dilbertese," as the author says, the following business plan statement sounds remarkably like a t-shirt development plan: "Agree and execute on a communication plan for the division aimed at building a team identity, rewarding/reinforcing critical behaviors/accomplishments, and building team spirit and passion."
Even if you don’t much care about Apple’s corporate mentality or history, this is an excellent book. Although the book could use more anecdotes about some shirts, it’s a great addition to my collection. My favorite shirt? The one I’m most proud of features four stumps, but my favorite is featured on the inside flap: Bill Gates, looking like a chicken, laying eggs and wearing lipstick. You’ll find the reasons for my choices in the book.
[John Sinteur is a Dutch developer specializing in advanced multimedia and online commerce, with more Apple in his blood than he cares to admit.]