Stacy Suzy Sally Siri: Steve Jobs Wanted Apple's Voice-Recognition Software to Go by Another Name

"Siri, why don't you have a better name?"

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

In Norwegian, Siri means "beautiful woman who leads you to victory."

While, for Americans making use of the iPhone-dwelling robot, "victory" may be less about spiritual/martial/financial fulfillment, and more about finding the closest 7-Eleven ... the rather epic name still seems appropriate. We have questions; Siri -- most of the time -- has answers.

But the name that's now synonymous with voice-recognition came thisclose, it turns out, to being replaced. In a talk in Chicago last night, Dag Kittlaus, one of the co-founders of Siri (the company that developed the Siri software and that was bought by Apple in 2010), discussed the origins of Apple's captivating-and-occasionally-frustrating voice-recognition feature. In the process, he shared a little piece of Siri gossip: Apparently, Steve Jobs, at first, was not a fan of the ladybot's name. And he tried to come up with a name that would, in his estimation, be a little better at leading Apple to victory. 

Kittlaus, however -- who, had his first child not been a son, would have named her Siri -- persevered. "It's a great name," he insisted. When Jobs and his team, ultimately, were unable to find anything Jobs liked better, Kittlaus won. Siri stuck.

This whole what's-in-a-name process, Network World's Yoni Heisler points out, was a common phenomenon during the Jobs era at Apple. Jobs wasn't, at first, a fan of "iMac" as a name. He didn't like "iPod," either. But deadlines came and passed, and with no better alternatives in the running, the CEO acquiesced. The names stayed on. Which is why, today, if you're talking to her at all, you're talking to a robot named Stacy Suzy Sally Siri.

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In