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Early Apple Designs Revealed, Courtesy of Hartmut Esslinger 115

Posted by timothy
from the sainted-before-ives dept.
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt as carried by CNET of former Apple design chief Hartmut Esslinger's upcoming book, titled Design Forward: Creative Strategies for Sustainable Change. Writing of Steve Job's integration of design as an essential element across the company as a whole, Esslinger says: "The company's [then] CEO, Michael Scott, had created different business divisions for each product line, including accessories such as monitors and memory drives. Each division had its own head of design and developed its products the way it wanted to. As a result, Apple's products shared little in the way of a common design language or overall synthesis In essence, bad design was both the symptom and a contributing cause of Apple's corporate disease. Steve's desire to end the disjoined approach gave birth to a strategic design project that would revolutionize Apple's brand and product lines, change the trajectory of the company's future, and eventually redefine the way the world thinks about and uses consumer electronics and communication technologies." CNET shows off a few of those old designs (many of them appearing unsurprisingly fresh), but for much more of them see these images at designboom.
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Early Apple Designs Revealed, Courtesy of Hartmut Esslinger

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  • I don't understand this - how are ventilation stripes a design language?

    Can someone explain what the hell is snow white design language created by this guy.

    • It's all in the implementation. There is function, concept, and execution. How the three combine become part of a design language. Good design is often unnoticed and simply aids in the functionality of a product. That is often the goal. Unfortunately, too many "designers" copy design elements without understanding the language. Good design goes beyond aesthetics, and shapes the user's attitude about the product before they even use it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      From Wikipedia

      The distinguishing characteristics originated by the Snow White design language, in contrast to the original Apple industrial design style, include the following:

      minimal surface texturing
      colored a light off-white (Fog) or light gray (Platinum)
      inlaid three-dimensional Apple logo, diamond cut to the exact shape
      zero-draft enclosures, with no variances in case thickness and perpendicular walls
      recessed international port identification icons
      silk-screened pro
      • by Frankie70 (803801)

        All this is fine - but why is it called a design 'language' - rather than design.

        • For the same reason as a family of related design patterns in Software Engineering is called a 'pattern language'.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattern_language [wikipedia.org]

          • by dfghjk (711126)

            "For the same reason..."

            Yes, true, and that reason is hubris, but why use "pattern language" as an example when the term "pattern" itself was created for that reason?

            Groups create their own languages to differentiate themselves and feed their professional egos. Now, time to do some "refactoring"...

            • A pattern is not a pattern language.

              A pattern is one single thing. Combined they might form a language, or not.

              This are btw not my definitions, or do you think i highjacked wikipedia?

              Groups create their own languages to differentiate themselves and feed their professional egos.
              Thats why layers and medicals have their own language?

              Now, time to do some "refactoring"...
              Perhaps you should refactor your Gedankenwelt a little bit first. I doubt you come far with your attitude.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      I don't understand this - how are ventilation stripes a design language?

      Can someone explain what the hell is snow white design language created by this guy.

      Designs by the seven dwarfs?

    • I don't understand this - how are ventilation stripes a design language?

      Can someone explain what the hell is snow white design language created by this guy.

      Yeah, who would ever recognize, say, a car buy its kidney shaped grilles.

  • if you don't believe me, look it up yourself: Wikipedia Link [wikipedia.org]
  • of Mac Mini, NEC monitor, Logitech bluetooth mouse, Kensington USB keyboard, and Tivoli Audio sound system has absolutely no "design language or overall synthesis in essence" and yet works just fine.
    • by Internal Modem (1281796) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @11:54AM (#42426211)
      Good for you, but no one is writing articles about your setup, giving you awards for design innovation, or buying anything you make -- at least I hope not.
    • You're hardly unique in having a system made up of parts bought at various times, from various manufacturers. Indeed that's more or less the idea with the Mac Mini.

      But if a store set your system up in store and tried to sell it. How many people do you imagine would buy it?

      It's pretty obvious that companies do better if they make their products which are intended to work together look harmonious in design. So WTF is your point?

    • by Kenshin (43036)

      Some people appreciate industrial design. Some people don't. It's like how the ugly "beige box" ruled the industry for decades, and some people still have them and say "it works just fine."

      This is not a put-down, just a statement of fact.

      In any case, it's not putting form over function, it's a matter of form complementing function.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is not design, it is fashion - fad if you will !! Design has purpose !! Fashion does not !!

    • Good design is functional. It can also be fashion. Whoever told you it couldn't be fashion was wrong.
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        If good design is functional then that eliminates recent Apple products immediately. We still have this cult of personality running amok despite the fact that the relevant tyrant is dead.

        I agree with the assesment that this is yet another free advertisement for Apple Corporation masquerading as news.

        • Really?? Please site a single example of non-functional Apple design. They make documentaries about Apple design and the focus on simple, functional design.
        • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:42PM (#42426479)
          Yeah. Lot's of money in pushing that new Apple laptop, the "Bashful"! And that corded iMac phone will sell millions of units.

          It's an article about an interesting (for some of us) history of the genesis of a pretty damned successful tech company. Now if you would pull your head out of your "I hate anything Apple" ass for just a short time you might learn something about how business works. Or carry on with your ranting. (in 3, 2, 1...)

        • by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @01:28PM (#42426743) Journal
          apple design is stylish and easy for the layman to use.

          my mother has an ipad and the only "problem" she has with it is frequently forgetting which of about half a dozen very similar passwords she has set for her itunes account.

          personally i prefer the freedom of an android tablet and the raw power of my linux laptop.

          apple does not put out much that is truely unique and unheard of, but they manage to make state of the art easy to use and have a serious talent for UI. look at the ipod, and compare it to the interface of other devices of the time (and even quite a few now) which would have 5-7 buttons with unintuitive glyphs sloppily imprinted and difficult to see even in favorable conditions.
        • If good design is functional then that eliminates recent Apple products immediately.

          You're claiming Apple's recent products aren't functional. Without a single word of justification. Do you thing everyone is as stupid as you?

          • by pigiron (104729)

            You're claiming Apple's recent products aren't functional. Without a single word of justification. Do you thing everyone is as stupid as you?

            Read my critique of the iPhone in the above thread; not to mention certain iPods whose tracks could only be accessed sequentially.

        • by dfghjk (711126)

          Yes, I don't get how anyone accepts the notion that removing a power button is an example of good functional design on a portable product with inadequate battery life. Apple so full of it with that stuff. Apple is good at fashion, emphasis on function is a myth.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      Dieter Rams, not Braun. Also, this is about Frog Designs, not Jony Ive. You are a complete moron.
    • If you actually bothered to RTFA, you'd see that the only ones copied, in some of the designs, is Sony.

      Jony Ive, who DOES credit Dieter Rams, was only a teenager when these designs were made. Before he went to University, let alone joined Apple.

    • Jobs is well known to have loved Braun products, it's not a secret.
  • I wonder if they noticed that the pictures of the Macphone [designboom.com] they show were taken with the product upside down.

  • > "The company's [then] CEO, Michael Scott"

    Creative Strategies for Sustainable Change
    That's what she said!

    Steve's desire to end the disjoined approach
    That's what she said!

    bad design was both the symptom and a contributing cause of Apple's corporate disease
    That's what she said!

  • Hartmut needs to design a line of products for shaving.

  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @01:42PM (#42426835) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me how quickly technology changes the mean of communication. For instance, the Pony Express only operated for a year or two, ultimately made irrelevant by the telegraph.

    I recall these internet appliances that would allow us to cheaply access email and the WWW. Since so many were still using dial up, a land line phone was a common sense addition. Few imagined that cell phone rates would fall so quickly that phone calls would almost be given away, and what you pay for was data. This lead to the internet appliance that was not imagined, the smart phone, and the larger table on which we use Skype, which with we call anywhere for negligible costs, at least by developed world standards.

    This is funny because so many said the internet appliance would never be viable. Maybe that was true in a very restricted sense, but not in a broad sense. In the same sense that there was no market for microcomputers.

    Which is why I get so annoyed when people dismiss a concept because they do not like a design. Sure the Tandy 100, 200, PC-6 might not have been many peoples idea of a programmable portable device, but they had many of the ideas that people want today. A keyboard, programing on device, removable storage. It is interesting to note that many successful mobile devices do not include such features. But that is who progress works. We start by mimicking existing technology, then move to novel ideas.

  • by gozar (39392) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @01:47PM (#42426871) Homepage

    No matter how you feel toward Apple, those designs show how forward thinking they were. Keep in mind that most of those designs are from 1982. Two years before the Mac's debut, and at a time when we were all beating on our Atari 8-bits, Apple IIs, and Commodore 64s.

    I'm especially intrigued with the split screen monitor designs. Dual monitors in 1982? Dual flat screen monitors? Pretty amazing.

    And the baby mac resurfaces 14 years later as the iMac.

    • I'd say that flat screens were simply wishful thinking, and some of these designs are from 1985 rather than 82. Also, the plastic is tasteless by modern standards.
    • I'm sure lots of companies had interesting designs and prototypes and based on this article, I'd say Atari had more interesting and forward thinking projects at that time. I'm just reading the new book on Atari's early history and there were some amazing things being worked on. Alas, almost none saw the light of day.
    • by dfghjk (711126)

      The original IBM PC was designed to support multiple monitors and did so from day one. Dual head was a great way to develop software in the early days and CodeView supported it (that's the debugger in Visual Studio for those experts who weren't born yet). Apple was the slowest company to embrace color and multiple displays. Apple was technologically retarded, not forward thinking. They were concerned with fashion and marketing, not superior function. Wozniak was the master of inferior function on the c

      • by Scoth (879800)

        I've always felt that Apple's problem is they hit on a successful, good formula, and then ride it into the ground and well past its sell-by date. Original Macintosh was something new and interesting, but they were still making the Mac Classic into the early 90s which was fundamentally similar and did poorly outside education (trying to sell a non-color 8mhz computer when PCs were at 33 and 66mhz? Really?). The early color Macs were interesting, but they got bogged down in the confusing product lines and cor

      • The original IBM PC was designed to support multiple monitors and did so from day one.

        That both worked at the same time was never intended, merely an side product of the cheap design.

  • Much early personal computer design was dominated by the "where do we put the back part of the CRT" problem. You see that in the article's pictures. Once screens became flat, and electronics became small, there was more design flexibility. Not much is done with it, though.

    Organic designs have been tried over the years. Olivetti did some beautiful designs in the 1960s and 1970s, and most good museums of modern art will have a few Olivetti objects [moma.org] on display. Bang and Olufsen designs [bang-olufsen.com] are much admired by

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