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Apple Prototypes: 5 Products We Never Saw 169

Michael writes "For every Apple product we see on the shelves, there are dozens that never make it to production. Sometimes, these rare gems surface on the web for us to take a look at, and ponder what might have been. Scouring through the interweb, I've compiled this list of 5 Apple products that only the most hardcore of hardcore MacAddicts have ever stumbled across. Surprisingly, some of these products, over 10 years old, are still being speculated about in one form or another to this day. Will we see new products based on these old prototypes? It's far more likely that anything resembling the devices listed below have been rebuilt from the ground up, but still, it's fun to look back on the products that didn't make it to the mass market."
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Apple Prototypes: 5 Products We Never Saw

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  • PDA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:39AM (#17044946)
    Why the heck can't they just make a decent PDA and be done with it? They had a decent start with the newton then just chucked it out! If it could dock with a normal screen and keyboard easily, possibly with wireless, it could do double duty as some sort of internet appliance at home as well. We have all that is necessary today to pull this off tech-wise. Sure, there's a ton of smaller cellphone thingamajobbies out there, and all their various iPod gizmos, but I think there's still a market for a real PDA if it was built with apple's eye for function.
  • Apple PenLite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nightspirit ( 846159 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:41AM (#17044984)
    I wish apple would do something like that now, a convertible tablet mac. That is the only thing holding me back from buying a macbook pro, as I would miss the tablet features of my fujitsu.
  • by dgrisman ( 974104 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @01:01AM (#17045166) Journal
    Copland. From Macworld, July 1995: "A fundamental reworking of the Mac system software is in the works--Macworld reveals how this will make the Mac even better It will do more. It should crash less and use less RAM. It will automate more tasks and reduce desktop clutter. "It" is the next generation of the Macintosh Operating System, a major reworking of the Mac OS. Due in mid to late 1996, this as-yet-unnamed successor to System 7.5, code-named Copland, promises to boost productivity by making the Mac OS operate more efficiently, by building automation into common tasks, by incorporating many features that ..." (Any wonder why Win95 got a leg up on Macs when it launched?) MacUsers everywhere should bow their heads and thank Gil Amelio for killing Copeland and apologize profusely for allowing Steve Jobs for ignominously have him ousted after he cleaned up the excesses on Infinite Loop.
  • Swing for the fences (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dlenmn ( 145080 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @01:04AM (#17045182)
    This is the Apple I like. When most other computer companies were making clones, Apple was doing R&D and making some nifty stuff. Granted, they also almost went broke, but I still liked the attitude, even if there were management problems, turf wars, and whatnot. The balance has shifted somewhat away from R&D, which was obviously needed, but I don't think the balance is quite right yet... I'd like to see more things along these lines from Apple. They've got money now. It wouldn't kill them to swing for the fences a few times.
  • Pippin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cybercyph ( 221022 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @01:09AM (#17045228)
    What about the Apple Pippin, their video game console? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Pippin [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 30, 2006 @01:09AM (#17045236)
    I have been waiting 20 years for a Knowledge Navigator [wikipedia.org]!!

    Where and when did Apple go so wrong?

    CAPTCHA of the comment: reprieve
  • by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @01:12AM (#17045266) Homepage Journal
    Every, and I mean every company has products under development that never see the light of day.

    Case in point: mid-'90s, I did a lot of 3D animation and multimedia production. One of my clients was DEC, the Digital Equipment Corporation. Some of the presentations I created for them were for products like the DEC Dove, a tablet/laptop that could use wireless to connect to other DEC Doves in a conference room (this was 1994, before wireless was a standard and about when tablet computing first appeared).

    I was lent a prototype of the Dove (cost: $50,000, delivered by an armed guard) in order to digitize it and create a 3D model. The operating system was something akin to PalmOS, and the screen would automatically rotate from landscape to portrait mode when the screen was opened. I had only the one example, so I can't say how the wireless function worked, but it never crashed on me, which is a lot to say for a prototype.

    There were other DEC projects, none of which got past the stage of painted foamcore models, like a network-attached storage appliance that was about the size of an abridged dictionary. Again, this was 1994, and I didn't see an equivalent product in the marketplace for another 7 or 8 years. That one was ahead of its time, since most of the networks I worked with back then were 10Base2, chugging along at 10Mbps. NAS at that speed would be all but useless for anything but small Word docs.

    I could go on about what killed DEC, but I'd rather let DEC ex-employees tell that story.

  • On Video Phones (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doomstalk ( 629173 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @01:50AM (#17045556)
    Video phones failed because people have come to realize that they DON'T WANT to be seen. In his novel Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace puts it very nicely: "It turned out that there was something terribly stressful about visual telephone interfaces that hadn't been stressful about voice-only interfaces. Videophone consumers seemed suddenly to realized they've been subject to an insidious buy wholly marvelous delusion about conventional voice-only telephony. They'd never noticed it before, the delusion --- it's like it was so emotionally complex that it could be countenanced only in the context of its loss. Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you to not have to pay anything close to complete attention to her."
  • by Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @02:28AM (#17045794) Homepage Journal
    Funny, I still have a Newton modem lying around, no nearby Macintosh needed. Actually, in this clip http://www.netscape.com/viewstory/2006/10/15/steve n-segal-saving-the-world-with-a-newton/?url=http%3 A%2F%2Fwww.tuaw.com%2F2006%2F10%2F15%2Ffound-foota ge-steven-segal-saving-the-world-with-a-newton%2F& frame=true [netscape.com] you can see Stephen Segal save the world with a Newton. "Dialling Mile High Cafe", a classic line!
  • Re:PenLite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by able1234au ( 995975 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @03:42AM (#17046144)
    I had access to a Penlite for a while when i was at Apple. At the time it seemed to be a solution looking for a problem. A fun prototype but a bit buggy from memory. There were times when you wanted the keyboard to reset it. The newton felt much cooler to me. I once used a newton to take notes in a developer conference with full handwriting recognition and then went back to the hotel and uploaded the notes to my colleagues. No big deal now but was pretty cool at the time. I still have some of the beta newtons floating around. My kids used them for a while but there was nothing much they could do with them. The Penlite i had to give back when they killed the project. It was verrrrryyyy tempting to keep it as it was pretty unique but i guess they didnt want us showing it to customers.
  • Re:PenLite (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 30, 2006 @04:54AM (#17046450)
    PenLite wasn't the codename, but it was pretty cool. We had one around for a while, as well as a Paladin - (which was based on an '030 PowerBook Duo and worked quite well and was featured in USA Today once upon a time). Like a PowerBook Duo 230 with the display flipped around, facing out.

    PenLite used a MacOS 7.1.x version of the Newton OS recog engine. "Rosetta" was on Mac OS long before any of the breathless assholes in the Mac Rumor community ever thought of it.

    There was a flip-swivel screen idea for a PowerBook G3 Series companion to Wall Street named Hollywood, but beyond that, I can't go into specifics (even as AC). It never got prototyped.

    In fact, there are more projects Apple's kept secret and cancelled than these Mac Rumors jerks have ever guessed at correctly. I wish those folks would just pass silently into the night, because their annoying guesses and speculation on upcoming Apple products are the main reason working there can be such a pain in the ass. Apple used to be pretty fun place to work, but everything in and out is monitored these days - precisely because a few attention-seekers like Jason O'Grady and "Nick DePlume" chose to go into the leak-amplifying business.
  • iPhone? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @05:36AM (#17046626) Homepage
    Apple pushed on the Newton for quite some time. It did OK, but they were a little too expensive for the time, and a little too bulky for a normal pants pocket.

    Unfortunately, things really took off with the Palm Pilot... which dumped functionality for a form that was actually convenient and fit in a pocket. Sound familiar? I say unfortunately, because 3Com / Palm clearly hasn't had the legs to keep running with it. Now the pure PDA are has the Palm Pilot on the low end, MS's Pocket PC on the high end, and a gamut of random stuff like Psions in the middle. And it looks like the market is shrinking.

    Personally, I've had many PDA's, and liked them all. They were replaced by a Treo, until the shoddy build quality dragged that phone into nothingness. Since the Treo, I've used a standard phone with a unlimited use network plan. Now when I need to make an appointment, I just go to calendar.yahoo.com. Text input with the phone pad is worse than with the Treo's excellent keyboard, but typing in appointments at my normal computer works perfectly.

    I suspect that apple is working on something WRT the iPhone. It would make perfect sense for an iPhone to sync automatically with iCal. It could be more of an Apple Communicator or something like that, with phone functionality relegated the same status as text messaging, calendar functions, and purchasing music from iTunes.

    There isn't a lot of room left in the space between a dedicated PDA [yahoo.com] and an ultralight computer [sonystyle.com]. Apple would need to go a different direction.
  • by muttoj ( 572791 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @08:51AM (#17047512)
    Found a website which explains it better then me. :) http://www.engr-sci.org/dbis/stories/2004/14112.ht ml [engr-sci.org]
  • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <[yoda] [at] [etoyoc.com]> on Thursday November 30, 2006 @10:03AM (#17048246) Homepage Journal
    I still consider Apple to be the gold standard for a company that continually pump innovation into its product line, while keeping old users happy. My first Mac was back in '94. I bowed out in the late 90's to do the Linux thing for a while, but after a few years of scratch building computers and rebuilding operating systems once a week because Gentoo decided "Hey lets roll out a new version of GLIBC!" I'm back on mac.

    I just love opening the lid, doing my work, and slamming it shut. When they drop in a new widget, it's solid. Sure you have to take it in for an occasional blown logic board... but you CAN take it in for a blown logic board. My Sony's would drop a component and it would be "oh well, sucks to be you." The only reason I had to replace my previous iBook was that I had marinated the thing in coffee. It was 3 years old and running like the day I, or rather work, bought it.

    How many of you kill a three year old laptop and say "GOSHDAMNIT!!!!" It was that good to me.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.