How Steve Jobs and Apple turned technology into a religion


DECADES after Apple’s founding, we’ve grown used to referring to lovers of the company’s products as a “cult.” The devotion of customers to Apple products has long been the envy of competitors for its fanatical fervor, according to the LA Times.

It turns out that the religious intensity with which people follow the company is not entirely by accident. In a new book, “Appletopia,” author Brett Robinson examines the way that Steve Jobs drew on religious metaphors and iconography to elevate his products specifically, and technology more generally, into a kind of religion.

“The creative rhetoric around Apple’s technology has favored religious metaphors,” Robinson said in an interview. “Some of it is conscious on Apple’s part. Some of it is unconscious.”

Jobs, of course, was a well-known devotee of Eastern spiritualism, including Zen Buddhism. He was a seeker of knowledge and transformative experiences who traveled widely and took LSD to expand his own consciousness.

From the very beginning of Apple, Robinson said, that spirituality was a part of the company’s philosophy and the way it marketed itself to people who had before only seen computers and soulless boxes used by big corporations to perform cold calculations.

Some of the iconography Apple borrowed is less than subtle. Its logo, for instance. The apple with a bite taken out of it suggests the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge.

But knowledge, in the Apple gospel, doesn’t bring about a downfall, but instead provides a moment of liberation, a path to enlightenment.

The enlightenment was an element, Robinson says, of Apple’s famous “1984” Super Bowl commercial, in which a female runner throws a hammer that smashes an Orwellian figurehead on a giant screen. Instead of a fiery explosion, the drones looking on are bathed in bright light as they seem to awaken and stir.



5 thoughts on “How Steve Jobs and Apple turned technology into a religion

  1. how do you know it was an apple that eve took a bite out of? The Torah does not mention an apple and the Christian Bible merely calls it the fruit of knowledge of good and evil… it could have been anything! The suggestion that it was an apple came from a latin mistranslation of some of the Biblical manuscripts during dark ages.This still doesn’t prove anything. Steve Jobs comes from a Middle Eastern culture heavily influenced by Islam. Before the fall of Constantinople in 1453 it was often called the Red Apple by the Turks. Maybe Steve Jobs is secretely calling his computer an apple due to his islamic roots.


    • davinci and all,

      In preparation for my lecture on the Garden of Eden, I was fascinated to learn that there are a whole load of fruits that have been identified as the ‘forbidden’ fruit of Genesis.

      Two favourites from an early time were the Fig and the Banana. they were picked on because of their similar formation to the genital organs of female and male respectively. Also, since it is described that Fig leaves were the material with which A and E first clothed themselves, it became fairly logical that the same tree should provide the forbidden fruit. Then there was the Apricot, and the Banyan, – oh and most peculiar of all was Wheat of all things. The Grape was another popular contender, presumably because under its influence one might get drunk and commit all sorts of forbidden deeds.

      The Apple was actually picked on first by a guy named Aquila of Pontus in Asia Minor in the 2nd century. He did a very curious translation from the Song of Solomon in one passage, that he twisted into the statement that it was under the Apple tree that man had been corrupted. Also the Apple was targeted too because that fruit was sacred to more than one pagan god or goddess.

      Cheers, Rian.


  2. Or maybe (“The apple with a bite taken out of it suggests the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge. “) the single bite just means multi-core CPUs hadn’t been invented yet? 🙂


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