Apple News & History

Clarus, The Dogcow

Clarus, The Dogcow
Clarus, The Dogcow

Clarus, The Dogcow

The dogcow is a hybrid animal, half-dog, half-cow, created by Apple’s designer Susan Kare and trademarked by Apple together with its signature noise MOOF! This mysthic creature named Clarus made many appearances in Apple applications between 1983 and the beginning of the 21th century. For example, the dogcow icon was used in Apple printer setup dialog boxes for many years to show the orientation of the paper.

Its name comes from the word Claris, an Apple’s office software at the time.

In Apple’s “Disk Copy” application Clarus wagged its tail and flipped over while the process of copying was developing.

In April 1989, Apple issued official Macintosh Technote #31, further explaining the animal’s origins, history and habits. Later, in the mid 1990s, the company included the dogcow in its real-world Icon Garden. Then the image was used in the Mac OS Page Setup print dialog box (slightly redrawn to fit the Page Setup dialog box, now it looked more «bovine»).

On Mac OS X, the dogcow was replaced on printer dialog boxes with a stick figure. The innovation inspired many users to start a worldwide petition Save our Dogcow, which was signed by over 8,000 people. One developer even invented ClarusX, a utility which allowed users to reinstate the dogcow in Apple’s printer dialog boxes.

Note than Apple Technote 31 includes the following description of the dogcow: There is a life-size picture of a dogcow conveniently located in the Finder. Look under “Page Setup…” Now look under “Options.” Voila, there is the dogcow in all its raging glory. Like any talented dog, it can do flips. Like any talented cow, it can do precision bitmap alignment. Somewhere along the line I baptized the dogcow “Clarus.” Of course she’s a female, as are all cows; males would be referred to as dogbulls, but none exist because there are already bulldogs, and God doesn’t like to have naming problems. (from History of the Dogcow, part II).

There is perhaps no clearer indication that Apple was keen to make a break from its roots than when it removed the giant, blown-up versions of some of the early icons, Clarus included, from what was called the Icon Garden at its campus in Cupertino. You can’t argue with the results: since then, Apple’s sales figures have rocketed and its appeal has become truly global. And sure, I’m not saying that killing Clarus led directly to this success, but it’s likely that it was this unsentimental mindset that helped propel the company to its current position as the world’s richest technology company. Mind you, Apple may never rid itself of a grass-roots proto-anarchy. Despite expunging Clarus, in its documentation for its brand-new programming language, Swift, one of the examples given for naming constants and variables uses the emoji for a dog and a cow (which it says could equal “dogcow”), as lovely a little nod to Clarus’s role as a mascot for Apple developers as you could hope to find (and we quote MacWorld here).

One final note: Of course Clarus is a female, as are all the talented dogcows.

Address of the Clarus, the mascotte, the Clarus museum: clarus.chez-alice.fr

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