Sure, Apple wears many hats. Its a consumer electronics company, a music store, a mobile phone manufacturer, a retail store operator, etc. But, first and foremost it is a design company. Find below 15 Apple prototypes that you may have never seen.
The Knowledge Navigator was a dream of Apple’s then-CEO John Scully in the ’80s. It’s not clear if the technology for the navigator even exists today, as it would have had a touch screen, superb text-to-speech translation, and a super cool ‘butler’ that users could speak to and order around (think “Computer” on Star Trek’s USS Enterprise).
The weighted LCD screen on this svelte computer makes it look like an art piece Gordon Gekko would have in his office just to show off. It’s said to be designed by well-known German industrial designer Richard Sapper. This was actually featured in MoMa.
The TimeBand looked to be in the concept phase in the early ’90s. It’s not very clear what the piece would have done other than play the radio and give users a more manly alternative to the cuff bracelet. Found it interesting to post saying how an Apple board of director member wanted to use the new iPod shuffle as a wrist watch.
WALT, which stands for Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone, was a predecessor to the iPhone, though incomparably clunkier. It had a touch screen and digital address book and could be used as a fax machine.
Pippin made it to the marketplace, but if you’ve heard of it, you’re among the minority. When the gaming console (and network computer) was released in the US in 1996, Sony and Nintendo already had a firm grip on the digits of gamers. Japanese toymakers Bandai made the console and reportedly sold a measly 42,000 before it was discontinued
The Penlite, or Macintosh PowerBook Duo Tablet, was a combination of a Mac computer and tablet PC. Apple canceled development on this potentially-cool system in the mid-’90s to focus on the failed Newton pads.
Above, a Newton prototype. Newton’s were Apple’s personal digital assistant, or PDA, which were known in the ’90s for futuristic handwriting recognition software. Development ended in 1998, but some die hard Mac fans are still hoping for a revival.
It’s no wonder a boxy-looking flatscreen like this one never took off. Even with the wireless keyboard, the screen frame is overpowering and leaves no room for adjustments.
The Apple Texas Ranger is said to have been the result of a joint effort between RKS and Alan Kay (one of the developers of Macintosh interface) to build a kid-friendly computer with CD-ROM and pen-to-screen touch capabilities.
Above, an Apple combination of a PDA and GPS for cyclists. The idea is pretty neat, but do people really need a flashy distraction when they’re on the road?
The Apple IIp, or 2p, was an early portable concept said to have been in development in 1989.
This keyboard-free system, which looks like it was is development in the early ’90s, was likely aimed at artists and MacPaint users.
The Apple Paladin is a rare prototype all-in-one device. It combines a Duo 230, 160mb HD, OS 7.1, a Stylewriter 1200, and an Apple Scanner.
Modularity seems like a winning solution to design problems. Trouble is, people become bewildered by too many configuration options. Case in point you could configure this system as a pen-based tablet computer, a notebook with keyboard and touchpad, a full desktop computer, and more. The display module is a self-contained tablet computer. At your main work site you could dock the tablet with a desk module and use the keyboard cordlessly. The desk module would provide more storage, enhanced networking and video, and expansion slots.
The main unit of this dynamic prototype is curved just like today’s desktop Macs. but there the resemblance ends. This main unit swivels on the four-footed pedestal so you can get at the floppy disk, drive on one side and the CD-ROM drive on the other side. You can swing the main unit without dragging cables because the ports are in the pedestal. The flat display swivels and tilts independently. The display frame contains a microphone, speakers, and an infrared transceiver that connects cordlessly with the keyboard and its built-in trackpad. The emphasis of this radical approach is how you interact with the Mac, not on the Mac itself.