The Puzzle of 10:43am

If you look at the box for one of the new iMacs, you'll see that the time displayed in the title bar is 10:43am. It's the same for the MacBook Pro boxes.

The new Mac flip book ad in Wired also has the time as 10:43am in the iMac screenshots, though the MacBook screenshots are 10:44am. Some early Tiger screenshots on Apple's site show 10:40. The screen grabs on the monitors in the Genius Bar at Apple Stores are at 10:43am.

So it may just be that this is some number they chose because it has to be there, but I also wonder if there's a reason for it (maybe Pixar movies have conditioned me to think this way). In particular, why go to the trouble of changing the time between the iMac and MacBook screenshots in the Wired ad?

Here's a theory: the time in the title bar indicates which version of Mac OS X is depicted in the screenshot. This clearly isn't the case for "live" screenshots, but there are plenty that Apple mocks up for high-resolution advertisements.
Design Element
The Puzzle of 10:43am
Posted Oct 5, 2006 — 18 comments below


ssp — Oct 05, 06 1935

Interesting idea.

The MacBook shipped with X.4.6 though.

But still that could mean anything, I suppose. Strangely it's just 10:48 now...

Scott Stevenson — Oct 05, 06 1936 Scotty the Leopard

The MacBook shipped with X.4.6 though

Doesn't mean the screenshot is from 10.4.6, though.

Dan Price — Oct 05, 06 1937

10am? Obviously not a developer's desktop...

Zeno — Oct 05, 06 1938

Really interesting idea...but if you're right about the time matching the OS version, I think it should be something they adopted only recently...
...'cause I checked among the past official Apple PR images (I collect every single one of them since 1998) and the time displayed in the Mac OS X official screenshots doesn't match the OS version...althought we can say they all have something in common: "10.0 Cheetah"(March 2001), "10.1 Puma"(Sept 2001) and "10.2 Jaguar"(Aug 2002) screenshots share all the same time in the menubar: 11:23AM

Ravi Khalsa — Oct 05, 06 1939

Possible explanation; a version number for the ad?

Robert — Oct 05, 06 1940

What does it say if you play it backwards ???

ange — Oct 05, 06 1941

If you are right what will they do when they will hit 10.5.9 ?

Alastair Tse — Oct 05, 06 1942

Great find! I bet it's the engineers/marketing people having a bit of fun. You know how all watches show the time 10 past 10, I used to notice that some screenshots had that time too, but I can't remember when I've seen them.

Julian Bennett Holmes — Oct 05, 06 1943


Austin — Oct 05, 06 1944

Apple doesn't actually use Grab to make those screenshots; instead, screenshot designers make them from scratch. This is because in order to display in high quality in print ads and posters (say, in Apple Stores), they have to be at considerably high resolution, which you can't get from just pressing Cmd+Shift+3. Apple's graphic designers probably keep large versions of the icons and Aqua elements, then pass them off to the screenshot designers for them to make in different resolutions (1440x900 and 1680x1050 for the iMacs, MBPs and the 20-incher, 2560x1600 for the 30-incher, 1280x800 for the MBs, and 1920x1200 for the 23-incher and 23-inch iMac). After that, they take the photos of the computers, add the fake screens over the computer's actual screen, then send it off to whoever is in charge of putting it on the box. I almost took a job at Apple as a screenshot designer (I don't live in Cupertino, which kinda sucks), which gives it away for me personally.

There are also a few indications that these are faked, since many of the screens on the actual Macs never look that bright or rich when you actually use them for real (Talking specifically about my iBook G4), and looking at the box REALLY closly reveals subtle differences in the font rendering and color of some of the Aqua elements.

Austin — Oct 05, 06 1945

Oh yeah: and I think you're right: the time thing is probably a joke from the screenshot designers.

Austin — Oct 05, 06 1946

...oh, and my apologies about posting the screenshot process : I'm kind of a freak that way (and my Panther iBook box reads 10:35, for the record).

gdw — Oct 05, 06 1947

My computer shipped with 10.4.0. The time reads 10:40.

And another good point from the comments thread: What happens at 10.6? 11:00?

Colin — Oct 07, 06 1973

Jeez, I had to go and root through my storage locker just to find my iBook box. It shipped with 10.4.2, but the time on the box is 10:40. :-(

However, the system specs on the top of the box are actually printed on a sticker, and stuck overtop of the ones printed directly on the lid…perhaps they printed too many boxes! The conspiracy continues….

Robert — Oct 08, 06 1977

OH NO, IT CAN'T BE, when we get to OS 10.6 we all have to go out and buy new clocks because they will MAKE HOURS LAST LONGER !?!?!?!?!!?!?

I had heard time is accelerating and that is why all points in the universe have red shift !!!

How COME !?!?!?!!???? The chicken did not cross the road ...

... ???


PGM — Oct 11, 06 2031

Actually the 10.5 screenshots at Apple's website says 10:40, which is obviously not an indication of the system. My guess is that the screenshot designers simply have a menu-bar-clock-image in their Illustrator file for the screenshots, and they do not bother to change it in between screenshots. The mystery is then maybe not why it does not change, but why it actually does change every now and then.

Mayo — Oct 11, 06 2040

PGM: They probably change when there are changed in the OS'design. For example when they changed opacity of the stripes, changed from stripes to plastic, etc...

For the record, my MacBook Pro has 10:43 on the box, but shipped with 10.4.7. The box doesn't have OSX version on it, just says OSX, but I doubt 10.4.3 was ever shipped on MacBook Pros.

And just to feed the conspiracy, maybe the time is when the OS was announced :) Most of the events start at 10am and by the time they go through all the small stuf and get to "One More Thing" (tm) ... maybe they pick the time that way :)

Oli Young — Oct 28, 06 2198

I read somewhere once (my google fu escapes me) that almost every catalogue shot you'll see where time is displayed (ie models are wearing watches, or there's a clock in the background) it'll either show ~10.30am or ~2.30pm.

It's a psychological thing, those times being "optimal" being the mid-morning and mid-afternoon respectively.


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