How the Safari browser started life as Alexander and hid itself from the world

Don Melton, who was originally tasked by Scott Forstall to create WebKit and the Safari browser for OS X, and later WebKit of iOS, has retired from his job as engineering director of internet technologies, and begun writing. One of his writing projects is a blog, and two of his recent posts shed some light on the people and events behind Safari.

In When I first heard the name “Safari”, Melton discusses the project name, Alexander, how they jokingly referred to it as iBrowse, and how it ultimately came to be named.

During the Summer of ‘02, Steve Jobs and the Apple management team realized that we were going to pull this off — we could actually ship a Web browser by the end of the year. And at one particularly good Human Interface design session, discussion turned to what we were going to call this — thing.

In keeping Safari a secret, Melton talks about how his team had to hide Safari's user agent string, so the project could remain a secret until Steve Jobs announced it at Macworld 2003.

For much of the time we spent developing Safari — long before it was called by that name — it pretended to be Microsoft Internet Explorer. Specifically, Internet Explorer for Mac, which Apple had provided with the OS since 1998. Less than six months before Safari debuted, it started pretending to be a Mozilla browser.

Both stories are delightful and add an enormous amount of color and humanity to a technology iPhone, iPad, and Mac users use every day. Give them a read.

Source:, thanks @SrikarDR

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How the Safari browser started life as Alexander and hid itself from the world

1 Comment

From the blog post:
'Of course, all I could think about was, “Please don’t let us name the browser after a feminine hygiene product!”'
Where was he when they named the iPad? :)