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  • Apple's First iPhone Prototype Circa 1983



    Apple had an iPhone way back in 1983. It might not have been all that portable, but it still had a touch screen, and reeked of early 1980’s computer design.

    The design in question was a prototype by designer Hartmut Esslinger who just so happened to be the same guy who designed the Apple IIc. The design looks like the marriage of a desktop phone and a simple touch screen tablet.

    Obviously as a prototype not much is known about the intentions behind the device other than Apple had Esslinger produce it. However, the prototype does appear to be running some sort of digital checkbook program. The hand in questions is about to write in an unknown amount to an unknown recipient.

    Gems from the early days of Apple like this prototype are always a fun find, and help flesh out Cupertino’s mysterious past. Apple’s insistence on keeping their research and design process an incredibly secretive matter means these periodic leaks are as close as the Mac loving public will likely get to the inner workings of the company.

    Source: Jay Mug [via Design You Trust]
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple's First iPhone Prototype Circa 1983 started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. coldbud's Avatar
      coldbud -
      I like it! Wonder what would have happened if they actually released it.
    1. KraXik's Avatar
      KraXik -
      I wonder if in 20 years time we will look back at the great design of the iPhone 4 and say "doesn't it look dated?"
    1. bigliquid530's Avatar
      bigliquid530 -
      I mean I'm not a fanboy but really who was thinking of SH*T like that back in the 80's, (besides the Star Trek movies they had some futuristic thoughts)
    1. fleurya's Avatar
      fleurya -
      That is retro-sweet!!

      I would definitely buy one of these if someone made it to put an iPad on, and make the headset work from your mobile via bluetooth or even Skype or some other chat form the iPad itself.

      That would look great on my office desk!!
    1. R.Mortera's Avatar
      R.Mortera -
      It's probably worth like millions of dollars.
    1. lkailburn's Avatar
      lkailburn -
      Wow for 1983 that is impressive! He's obviously a visionary man to have designed a prototype like that. Hell even today it would be sweet to see more office phones like that.

      -Luke
    1. TheOrioles33's Avatar
      TheOrioles33 -
      And Google cant say they had a phone like this in the works before Apple because they werent even around!
    1. MYPHONEI's Avatar
      MYPHONEI -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheOrioles33 View Post
      And Google cant say they had a phone like this in the works before Apple because they werent even around!
      1st touchscreen smart phone was an IBM Simon 1992

      IBM Simon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Attachment 559015
    1. metaserph's Avatar
      metaserph -
      Hartmut Esslinger is a world renowned industrial designer, founder of frogdesign. They've only won several hundred design awards. That's the kind of minds Jobs surrounded himself with and the passion for top-notch product design came from such associations. Mix this prototype with the Newton and you got your basic iPhone. Anyways...
    1. scroogelives's Avatar
      scroogelives -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigliquid530 View Post
      I mean I'm not a fanboy but really who was thinking of SH*T like that back in the 80's, (besides the Star Trek movies they had some futuristic thoughts)
      And in 20yrs time apple will make a special edition retro iPhone 4 and have people fighting in shops to get it!
    1. ssjbrolly's Avatar
      ssjbrolly -
      I got to say, for early 80's that's super impressive. Even today they have crappy office phones. Not to mention even back in 97 120GB hdd's were a dream :P shows how long we have come. Great minds for sure, not an Apple fan boy, but I'll take my hat off to that.

      Thanks for the share!
    1. djdraco's Avatar
      djdraco -
      Quote Originally Posted by fleurya View Post
      That is retro-sweet!!

      I would definitely buy one of these if someone made it to put an iPad on, and make the headset work from your mobile via bluetooth or even Skype or some other chat form the iPad itself.

      That would look great on my office desk!!
      Good call. That could make for one sweet retro looking dock.
    1. j4v3d's Avatar
      j4v3d -
      looks quite good considering.
    1. davshirley's Avatar
      davshirley -
      I like the obvious conflict between the futuristic touch screen on the device and the coiled phone cord on the headset....
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Oh... so this is why they feel they invented everything that has to do with touch screen telephony...

      Quote Originally Posted by KraXik View Post
      I wonder if in 20 years time we will look back at the great design of the iPhone 4 and say "doesn't it look dated?"
      Look at anything ANYONE made 20 years ago (including Apple). It looks dated. I am sure the iPhone won't be immune.
    1. da_bomb3's Avatar
      da_bomb3 -
      Looks a little fake