A tiny stopwatch urged users to have patience while an application loaded, while Kare’s “Happy Mac” greeted users with a reassuring smile as they booted up their computers.
In the years since the Mac’s debut, Kare has brought her warm, clever style to a number of other tech giants, designing everything from the playing cards for Microsoft’s famously addictive game of Solitaire to Facebook’s virtual gifts, which the platform offered from 2007 to 2010. Today, she works as Pinterest’s creative designer, where she’s made her mark by designing, among other things, the brand’s signature red pushpin.
Among Kare’s enduring legacies is the way her icons have integrated a wide range of cultures into our everyday computer culture. Kare based the Macintosh “command” symbol (⌘), for example, on a sign used on Swedish campgrounds to denote interesting locations… She also drew inspiration from pirates, ancient hieroglyphs, books on craft and folklore, and from the Symbol Sourcebook, a 1972 guide to graphic symbols that includes everything from astrological signs to the markings that hobos left behind on buildings to help guide one another on their travels.
Her fonts for the Mac included Chicago (the Mac’s default san-serif typeface through system 7.6 in 1997, as well as on early versions of iPods), New York, Monaco, the wacky San Francisco (originally named Ransom, because its collage of letters looked like a ransom note), and Cairo—a dingbat font that was particularly useful in the pre-emoji era, which allowed people to insert images of palm trees, mittens, and treble clefs with a stroke of the keyboard.