I love designing logos for other people, but I usually hate doing it for myself. In the case of the Mimix logo, there were three immediate inspirations. I wanted the logo to have a sixties or historic feel because the ideas behind Mimix came from that era, and so did I.

The Apple /// logo was where my thoughts began for the Mimix symbol.

One was the Apple /// logo with three forward slashes. When I was growing up in Silicon Valley, the neighbor across the street had an early Apple ][¬†while the other neighbor next door had one of the first IBM PC’s¬†(and a gorgeous card punch machine the size of an executive desk!) I like the idea of “turning computing around” from what it has become today, so let’s turn Apple’s model name into three backslashes.

Math symbols were an inspiration, especially Greek ones. I wanted Mimix to fit in with any standard equation.

Secondly, I wanted the Mimix symbol to look like any other math symbol that might appear in an equation. This is a nod to Alonzo Church and his lambda calculus which in the 1930’s offered a new and more advanced way (over Turing) to represent computer operations. It was to become the basis of symbolic computation and the Lisp language that underlies Mimix. It has been said that any sufficiently powerful computer language is nothing more than a subset of Common Lisp, and the more you study that language, the more it appears to be true. The reason is that Church solved the basic problem of how to represent symbolic functions. Everything after that is just an abstraction over his work.

The Mimix logo should look like any other math symbol. See the three backslashes forming an M? Each slash leans on the previous one, as our reading and writing leans on others’ work.

Finally, for a color palette I turned to the PDP-11, one of the first machines to run Lisp. It was certainly gutsy and sexy as hell in its orange and purple colorways straight out of a PSA interior. PDP’s caused serious computer lust in the hallways of the universities that had them. While that DEC model was a bit too early for me to be involved, I did get to program one of their VAX machines while hanging out as a latchkey kid at my Mom’s office. The VAX’s printed manuals in their orange vinyl covers definitely had their design roots in the PDP color family.

The color scheme for Mimix comes from the PDP-11 front panel.

The Mimix logo is inspired by math symbols and classic computer design elements.

The final logo has a drop shadow, but not a soft, modern one. The shadow itself is almost mathematical, like something that would be produced by an old computer. Everything about Mimix is something that was envisioned for an old computer. Sadly, that computer has not yet come to be.

If the inspiration and ideas behind Mimix inspire you, I invite you to read the whitepaper and contact me with your thoughts.

Thank you in advance!
— D