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…
5. Apple PowerBop
PowerBop was Apple’s first Powerbook with wireless Internet Access.
The device was tested briefly in 1993, but the GMS based service was extremely buggy, and moving from service area to service area caused an almost constant loss of signal.
The device was ahead of its time.
4. Apple Paladin
The Apple Paladin was an attempt at an All-In-One device that was a computer, fax machine, scanner, and phone all in one. Essentially this one device would have been the only thing a small business needed to get off the ground. The primary display on the machine was a monotone LCD, but it also included a port to hook up a full color monitor.
Occationally these devices show up on Ebay, or even at Swapmeets , but I was unable to find out how many of these actually made it out into the market (if anyone knows, please let me know, and I’ll update here with the info)
3. W.A.L.T. (Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone)
It is unclear why W.A.L.T. never made it into production. The device, which admittedly, has a terrible name, was a portable screen-based Telephone right out of the Jetsons. The device was developed with Bell South in the very early 90s, and, in addition the making phone calls, also held an address book, and could send and receive faxes (very much like email). W.A.L.T. also had some PDA functions, and featured buttons across the top of the system for accessing important features – and a stylus for navigation.
2. Apple Videophone PDA
John Sculley really wanted a videophone/PDA hybrid device, and the designers at Apple gave him one in the Apple Videophone/PDA prototype. This device was shown at MacWorld ’95, and would probably have cost $700,000 had it ever come out (I kid). The device was a moble Videophone that could also sync PDA functionality with the user on the other end, allowing for an exchange of data, or the ability to work interactively. Had this thing ever seen the light of day (and worked) it would have been cool as hell, but alas…it was not to be.
1. Apple PenLite
The Macintosh PowerBook Duo Tablet computer was code named “PenLite”, and was a combination of a PowerBook Duo and…um…a Tablet PC. The device was developed at the same time as the Newton, and Apple chose to cease development of this device to avoid market confusion by having too many Tablet-styled devices out at the same time. Unlike the Newton Messagepad 100, which was a PDA, the PenLite was a full blown Mac with all the bells and whistles. The tablet also connected with all of the Powerbook Duo accessories and docks.
For further exploration of Apple Prototypes and Design Concepts, visit The Apple Museum and The Apple Collection , both sites are great resources with more prototypes and concept designs than you can shake a stick at.