Which came first? AMI Logo or TRIFORCE (r) symbol?

Which came first? AMI Logo or TRIFORCE (r) symbol?

If you've seen the AMI logo, it resembles three triangles. It's actually not three triangles. Instead it depicts a stylized letter A stacked on top of a stylized letter M.

However, some of our logos incorporate triple triangles along with words (See our MG9098 NVMe, SAS, SATA backplane controller logo). You see, in order for someone to trademark a logo, it must be distinctive or run the risk of being declined. In fact, the United States Patent Office (USPTO) has a spectrum of distinctiveness classification. Visit the USPTO for more information on this subject.

I've gone through the USPTO database looking for a registered trademark or service mark that depicts just three triangles. I couldn't find any. I guess that using three triangles alone as a logo isn't distinctive enough to be granted a trademark.

However, all that aside, this subject comes up from time to time in varying forms.
"Did AMI copy the TRIFORCE® symbol design?"

When I first heard about this, I was confused as I didn't know what the TRIFORCE® symbol was. In fact, I've never seen or played any of The Legend of Zelda™ video games.

So, which came first?

This is a difficult question to answer as I don't know exactly when Nintendo of America Inc. publicly released a game that used the TRIFORCE® symbol. I can only give you the AMI perspective. Perhaps someone from Nintendo of America Inc. could answer this. From what I can tell, The Legend of Zelda™ video game was released in 1986, but didn't use the triple triangle.

Even though AMI was founded in 1985, prior to the release of the game, the AMI logo wasn't created until a few years later. As mentioned earlier, the AMI logo is actually a stylized letter A stacked on top of a stylized letter M. At the time, many technology companies used striped logos. My predecessors decided to incorporate that feature so when someone looked at our logo, they would assume, "Oh, a technology company."

The AMI logo was first used on boot up splash screens in early 1990. It was basically created using our own ASCII character codes opposed to an image file. The first AMI logo was comprised of four individual characters in a two by two grid. The reason for doing it this way was because the initial boot screens didn't support graphics. In fact, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, most monitors were monochromatic. Think green or amber monitors. Even color monitors only supported a handful of colors. Most computers only supported text. Back then, computers were called clones... I am going off into a rabbit hole.

If you know when the TRIFORCE® symbol was first used, please let me know.

Nintendo® is a registered trademark of Nintendo of America Inc. The Legend of Zelda™ is a trademark of Nintendo of America Inc. TRIFORCE is a registered trademark of Nintendo of America Inc.
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Mr. Reynolds 08/23/2018

I teach 3rd-5th grade computer classes. I was updating the BIOS on a computer when one student asked me what I was doing. We talked about what a BIOS chip is and what the software does as we looked at pictures online. She said, "I have two questions about the BIOS". Her first question was, "Why does the BIOS logo look like the Triforce?" I didn't know what she meant so I scrolled back down to the picture of the BIOS screen. She was right, it did look like the Triforce, I can't believe I have never noticed that. So we Googled "American Megatrends" to see when the company was founded. One of the first things we see is this post from American Megatrends about their logo and the Triforce design! First, I thought it was super cool a 5th grader is wanting to learn about a system BIOS. Then I was shocked she spotted the Triforce design as I was talking about it. I was happy to see that not just anyone took the time to write about it... but American Megatrends themselves! I emailed her the link so she could read about it when she had more time. The Triforce in the original NES game (The Legend of Zelda) was a solid triangle when you defeated Ganon. The middle triangle piece wasn't knocked out of the middle of it until the Super Nintendo game (A Link to the Past) came out. The first Zelda is a classic but A Link to the Past is an amazing game! Thanks for posting this. Hi Kiera!

Terry 08/24/2018

Mr. Reynolds, Thank you for sending us your comment. We find it super cool too. I personally am glad to discover that grade-schoolers are still interested on the ins and outs of the computers that have now become routine in our daily lives. Many do not know that firmware is what makes their systems come alive. A good analogy is a simple street or road sign. If the metal that makes a sign is the hardware (computer hardware components) and the letters on the sign make up the operating system, the firmware would be the base coat of paint (primer) on the sign. So in a STOP sign, American Megatrends could be thought of as the red paint. Thanks again for your comment. Terry

Anonymous 10/08/2018

Excuse my google translation. Thank you for running my PC. Triforce was first used in "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link" released in 1987. However, this simple pattern is called "mitsu-uroko" (three scales) in Japan, one of the famous "kamon" (emblem) used by Hojo clan. Nintendo is likely to have been affected by this kamon.

Terry 10/09/2018

Yes, I agree. It is a ka-mon or family crest. I was not aware that it was from the Hojo family. There is also a more similar ka-mon to the AMI logo.