What’s in a Name: Snow Leopard Examined

by Meiera Stern Aug 28, 2009

Now 7 wild cats have been unleashed on the Apple public and still, no one knows for sure where these once internal code names originated: Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and now Snow Leopard. Sure they all denote a fierce, fast, and sleek animal, but is there more to Apple's famous branding of its OS X versions?

Years ago, TUAW suggested that when Apple blocked British Mac-clone company Shaye from licensing Mac OS 8, it did more than just drive Shaye into another line of business—Apple may have scalped the fur right off Shaye's back by copying the feline litany of its computer models, also called: Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Lion and Lynx. 

However, when Mac OS X was released on March 24, 2001, 4.25 years after Apple put an end to Mac clones, the public was unaware of its codename, Cheetah. In fact, the big cat marketing effort didn't gather speed until Jaguar was released a year later. So it seems unlikely that Apple outright stole the cat names from Shaye.

No one else on the web seems to have made a similar statement, and even TUAW notes that the German army names its tanks after wild cats as well. Since that doesn't sound like an image Apple would cultivate, I wonder, where do these names really come from?

For those out there who believe that names are powerful symbols, it is interesting to note that 5 of the OS X codenames: Cheetah, Jaguar, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard are officially endangered species. Is Apple trying to tell us something about the way of the Macintosh? 





  • Big cats are much less tacky than “Mac OS X version 10.blah.di.blah. I never did hear about Shaye and its purported product code-names. Apple stealing them? How rude! Shame on Stevie… wink

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 29, 2009 Posts: 846
  • And Vista appropriately stood for viruses, intrusions, spyware, trojans, and ad-ware.

    Neil Anderson had this to say on Aug 29, 2009 Posts: 23
  • This is a widespread practice when some devices or machines are carrying the names of animals, famous people or another nicknames. recently I’ve read custom dissertation where some airlines were described. A few of them gives to their aircrafts names of well-known people in order to promote history and culture of whole nation.

    Lampard had this to say on Mar 28, 2011 Posts: 1
  • I think that the Apple O/S may be overtaken by Android or Google O/S. Dissertations | Essays

    dissertations had this to say on Jun 12, 2011 Posts: 1
  • When talking about the name, I was reminded of a sentence in the catapult by a famous poet. He said something like this, what’s the meaning of a name.
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    angelique had this to say on Jun 15, 2011 Posts: 7
  • The naming is usually associated with the image. And the image I get when seeing the name of this laptop is something very great. Hopefully this is indeed so.  Business tax returns

    roxycross had this to say on Jul 05, 2011 Posts: 8
  • In my country more and more people are using computers outside the Mac. So the Mac does not have too many fans here. Making it difficult to get it.  Electronic Medical Records Benefits

    nickyrave had this to say on Jul 06, 2011 Posts: 9
  • Then I had also occurred to me to buy an iPhone, because he can play many games there. Just as I thought. Apparently I did not buy it.  Fragrance Oil

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  • I use IPhone 4g 1 year and I enjoy it! write my essay

    write my essay had this to say on Jul 08, 2011 Posts: 1
  • I like leopard pattern. It’s interesting and cute.
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    helix.sampson had this to say on Jul 14, 2011 Posts: 15
  • For me as long as the name was actually able to represent the ability of the laptop, of course, already will be very interesting.  Personalised Gifts

    Rylai had this to say on Jul 15, 2011 Posts: 2
  • They released a Apple Os X Lion and as I read people are not satisfyed with it.Maybe,when good names are ended,Apple will lose it’s ongoing wins?People could began to read research paper writers and think when they are buying apple products.

    James Flournoy had this to say on Jul 21, 2011 Posts: 2
  • I think Leopard is a good name. I even plan to gave the name to my son, if I already have children later.  Free online games

    samosbourne had this to say on Jul 24, 2011 Posts: 2
  • Naming is very appropriate to the capabilities of this laptop. Frankly I am very happy with the naming that you provide in this article. Of course this is a good name.  patio designs

    mixricky had this to say on Jul 31, 2011 Posts: 4
  • What would be a good thing for us is to find a good thing in a product. And to name the problem, as long as that name is not silly, I think there will be no significant problems.  logbook loans

    fredyaabdul had this to say on Aug 01, 2011 Posts: 3
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